Seeing Malawi

So here I am on the first public computer fast enough to resize photos and make skype calls! What a great opportunity to post an update on what I’ve been up to.

So I left Lilongwe on a big bus that was supposed to take 4 hours but ended up taking ten. That bus got me to Zomba, the former capitol city that is smaller and situated up in the mountains.


There I stayed with a VSO volunteer named Florent. Every night he would cook veggies

Flo cooking

and his guard would cook nsima (a maize flower paste, pronounced see-ma)

Cooking nsima

and we would eat it together on the porch.

Nsima dinner

After spending a few days in the mountains I wanted to see Lake Malawi (the third largest lake in Africa!). I took what ended up being three minibuses and a taxi and ended up in Cape Maclear, a little beach town at the south end of the lake.

Cape Maclear

I get rather frustrated just laying around on the beach, so I kept my one day in Cape Maclear busy by going on a little boat tour where I got to snorkel with tropical fish

Cape Maclear boat tour

and watch these eagles eat fish thrown from the boat.

Eagle fishing

The next day me and some folks who were staying at the same lodge hopped on the back of a pickup and were taken to the ferry at Monkey Bay.

The Ilala

The boat was called the Ilala and it’s route went from the southern end of Lake Malawi almost all the way to the north, with multiple stops along the way. Here I am ready to go!

Getting on the Ilala

Accommodations were a bit rough, with first class passengers (me) sleeping on the uncovered deck. Here you can see what my bed looked like the morning after my first night on the boat. All of my clothing was spread out for padding, with my legs covered by a garbage bag my torso covered by my rain jacket to block the wind. I definitely feel like my search and rescue training helped me out with this one!

Bed on the boat

While I was originally planning to ride the Ilala all the way north and cross into Tanzania, I had run out of cash (no ATMs on board) and was not looking forward to spending another night on the deck, so I got off early at a popular backpacker’s town called Nkhata Bay, which is where I am now.

Nkhata Bay

Until next time!

8 Comments on “Seeing Malawi

  1. You are in Nkhatabay! Argghh! I thought you will come back to Lilongwe! Anyway! Safe trip my lil bro! Miss you here! Miss the spy game alot! Til we meet again! You promise to visit me in Indonesia, right? so you better keep that promise! 🙂 Big hug!

    • Yeah, I was hoping to make it back too. But the idea of avoiding a bunch of long bus rides to get north was too tempting. And I will be sure to visit you wherever you end up!

  2. Gah! So great to hear about it and see pictures! How was snorkeling? how many nights did you spend on the boat? and how much longer until Tanzania?

    • Thanks for the photos and the phone call! The eagle looks impressive and very different variety than we have here.

      One question: Why does Florent need a guard?

    • Snorkeling was fun! Not a whole lot of non-fish marine life, but I did get to see a ton of colorful little fish. I had planned to spend two nights on the boat, but after the first cold night the idea of a bed was too tempting so I got off. I am in Dar es Salaam now! I spent the past two days solidly on buses so I didn’t have a chance to write.

  3. I love the high-res pics. Can really pick out details. Looks like some serious backpacking there at the ferry. Cool dugout canoes at the lake. Hope you get to ride in one. Do all foreigners have guards? That food looked good – especially the hot sauce. Did you all eat from the one plate on the clay floor? I would like to see more of Nkhata Bay – the real thing. Are the hills treeless because of climate or logging? Best to you.

    • Thanks for the comments! I did get to ride in a dugout canoe! They are pretty tippy, no keel, just a somewhat flat bottom.
      All of the foreigners I have stayed with have had guards. It seems to be the norm for anyone with above average income. Over at Freddy’s place which is near the prison they have both a day guard and a night guard, though the day guard does a lot of other things to take care of the compound, so I thought of him as more of a groundskeeper.
      Eating nsima at Flo’s was done on the front porch and all from one plate.
      Deforestation is a huge problem in Malawi and across the continent. Most all cooking is done over wood (like in the picture) or charcoal, and the tree planting projects that do exist just cannot keep up.