Today we drove from the capital of Malawi (Lilongwe) to Kande Beach on Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi was beautiful – much nicer than I expected. It’s the 2nd largest lake in Africa and the lake with the highest number of fish species in the world.
It took us a bit longer than expected to get out of Lilongwe and make it to Kande Beach because of two things:
1. One girl, unfortunately, had to go to the government office to get a Malawian visa. She thought she could get a visa at the border, but it’s not possible to get them at driving borders. After some reluctancy, the border guard was kind enough to let her into the country, but she had to go to the main government office the first thing in the morning.
2. One guy had to go back to the campsite because he didn’t bring his things with him in the morning. He thought we were going back to the campsite in the afternoon. Communication has, at times, been a bit unclear even for Rich and me. I can imagine it’s even more difficult when everything is in your second language.
Everyone was patient (our group gets along really well), and as the two people sorted out their issues we spent an hour at a Wildlife Centre and a few hours at a grocery store / small shopping center in central Lilongwe.
The Wildlife Centre takes in animals that have been injured, with hopes to re-release them to the wild. The guide was very knowledgable, but unfortunately the only animals we saw that had any plans to be released were the tortoises and the porcupines. Most of the animals were obtained from zoos abroad (a lionness from Romania that had really short back legs due to malnutrition, monkeys from Holland, several animals from Malawian zoos) or were injured and could not survive in the wild. Malawi has closed all of their zoos because they felt the animals weren’t being treated properly.
Having some fun at the Wildlife Centre:
A few hours at the grocery store was a lot for a group of people who don’t have to cook their own food, so we decided to sweep out the inside of the truck (it was desperately needed!) and try to organize our things a bit more. Honestly, I think we could re-organize our things every day – we’re getting better – but it’s surprisingly tiring to unpack and pack your things for a new location almost every day.
Once we got to Lake Malawi, Rich and I decided to upgrade from our tent to a cottage on the beach. In hindsight it probably wasn’t worth the extra cost ($20 / day) because we didn’t spend much time in our room and the room didn’t have a fan or an en suite bathroom, but we got sucked in by the view and the relatively inexpensive cost.
We spent the evening sitting on the beach, having a few drinks, looking at the stars, and getting hassled by teenage boys trying to sell their crafts. Rich and I hesitantly commissioned a unique hand carved magnet which we were to pick up the next afternoon. Actually, we really like it 🙂