Where to even begin with Malawi, “the warm heart of Africa” is certainly an accurate description for this country. Arriving in Lilongwe we were now in Tuk Tuk country, with hundreds of little blue and red Tuk Tuk’s buzzing around. We saluted all with a few hoots of the horn, whom happily replied with a few of their own hooots and big smiles. We even got to drive one of these 200cc petrol Tuk Tuk which was incredibly nippy and would smoke us in a drag race, yet none of them would be able to make it through some of the terrain our beast has passed through so in that sense it reiterated how much of a beast our Tuk Tuk is. We arrived at Mabuya Backpackers which is an awesome and welcoming place situated in Lilongwe where we stayed for a couple of nights. Thanks to Tom and the team we had a great stay and met some awesome people. Bjorn and his mate Ben run personally tailored adventure safaris through their company; ‘Untamed Africa’ and are absolute legends who blend seriousness and professionalism with fun, whom we would personally recommend if ever looking to do a proper safari in Africa without jumping on one of these large modern over-landers which are deterring from exploring Africa the proper way.
Street food from the markets in Lilongwe is an awesome experience. Walking through narrow little streets between makeshift buildings, the smell of fried beef, chicken and deep-fried chips pleasantly smothers the air. Prices are very reasonable and meals are served in large portions. Markets in Africa are a great way to source local supplies and experience more of how locals in the area are living and eating, but one would be wise to avoid purchasing some of the second-hand underwear and bra’s piled up in big heaps on the sidewalks.
We now left Lilongwe making our way towards Senga Bay some 120km away. We cruised over a beautiful pass and made good time to Senga Bay thanks to the epic downhills following our ascent. Arriving quite late we met up with our contact Steve, an old German Rhodesian that knows Southern Africa like the back of his hand. He operates Kokopelli Adventures and is in the process of building up his backpackers some 50m from the lake side. He welcomed us well as we shared plenty of beers and stories from his adventures throughout Africa. News spread quickly through Senga Bay about the Tuk Tuk and the second night at Steve`s place was fully packed where we were humbly given a goat for diner. We spent several days here where we took strolls on the beach and gazed upon the lake which lights up at night due to all the Mokoro (dug out boat) fishermen catching Kapenta. Lights are used to attract the Kapenta to the surface to catch them and because of this occurrence it was called the ‘Lake of Stars’ by David Livingstone when he travelled through this beautiful country.
Leaving Senga Bay, we made our way to Kande Beach some 270km away, however unable to cover this distance in one day we , planned to do it in two parts. Half way we were looking for a place to stay and ended up at this seriously run-down lodge which looked more like a ghost town with a terrible vibe. It took us awhile to find the manager who turned out to be a horrible old man from Holland who at first initially denied us pitching a tent. Within five minutes we went to the beach to have a look around and we were summoned to the gate where this grumpy old man was waiting for us. Although finally allowing us to stay he made it very clear that we were not allowed to walk around his property without the risk of him personally shooting us with his gun, and because of this we remained around our camp but not before leaving him a cheeky gift in the toilet before we left the following morning. This was the only occasion on our whole trip where we didn’t meet a warm heart, instead a cold and bitter man who looked just as run down as his lodge.
We now arrived in Kande where we stayed at Kande Beach Lodge an epic location right on the lake with some awesome mangers. Lodge manager Skank used to do overlanding when it was still rough and now operated this sweet location where he Let us pitch our tents and gave us a cold one to really welcome us. We ended up staying here for 5 nights, alternating between Kande Beach and neighbouring horse lodge, Kande Horse. Spending most of our time swimming in the clear and warm waters of Lake Malawi, we were really soaking it all up. While at Kande Horse we helped build a scarecrow and a target for the bow and arrow and Corban took a ride on horse which almost killed him. Whilst on the out ride, Corban and lodge manager Tiwanee came across a girl having an epileptic fit so they raced back to the lodge to get the car and take her to hospital. Because Tiwanee’s horse was motoring it was instinct for Corbans to follow as he yanked on the reins to slow this beast down he came haring around the corner hanging on for dear life. We manged to get the girl to hospital in time and she turned out alright.
We now cruised up the road to Nkata bay where we stayed at Butterfly Space, an awesome backpacker built on the rocks right next to the lake. A beautiful location but a dangerous one. One reason for the good times and people and the other for the large number of steep steps which Cal fell victim to many times, literally. We managed to escape with limited bruises and concussions and made our way north to enter Tanzania. Staying Mzuzu for one night we then proceeded to the border to Tanzania, which after many stories we thought was going to be a ball ache, yet it was rather efficient and proved to be no problem at all. Malawi defiantly treated us with a warm heart and we loved every experience along the way, so thank you to everyone we met who are now friends for life and thank you to Malawi for all your beauty, we shall return.