Distance: 396km (Cumulative: 20 187km)
Moving time: 6:40
Average speed: 60km/h
Road surface: 92% Tar, 8% Gravel
Mabuya Camp - R90 p.p
Lively backpackers between two busy roads, but nice enough.
We wanted to get an early start, but as usual, we only got away by 09:35. We emptied the Jerry cans and took the water container off the roof and refilled it with drinking water from Sunga Moyo’s borehole.
Our destination for today is Lilongwe where we hope to stock up on supplies and from where Hugo will potentially fly to Johannesburg for a day for ‘urgent’ business.
The road to Nkotakota was very narrow and with the side of the road crumbling creating high drop offs. At parts, the half-moon potholes coming from the side appear just as a truck passes and then you hit the deep sharp edges at speed.
Instead of driving all the way to Salima we turned off at Nkhotakota towards Kasungu. The road goes through the Nkhotakota wildlife reserve, which turned out to be a gravel road, but at least there was no traffic. We didn’t see any game. Only a few monkeys.
The shortcut we thought of taking towards Lilongwe from Mbobo turned out to be a very small gravel road (at least the part we could see), so we drove all the way to Kasungu before joining the M1 again. This probably made the road longer than just using the coast road.
At least we saw a different ecosystem of Malawi. For most of the road, we discussed whether Hugo should fly to Johannesburg or not. The other option was a 36-hour bus ride with Intercape which is 10 times cheaper. We decided to turn in at the airport to see if it is possible to buy a last minute ticket there. The airport is super small and Malawian Airlines informed us that it will be cheaper to book online even for the next day.
We thus continued to Lilongwe and stopped at the Shoprite. It was like walking into an expensive heaven. All the products that we’ve been missing for months were there, but at twice the price compared to SA. Something like Hug in a Mug costs R100 instead of R50. Or more than R20 for a slab of chocolate instead of R14.
Caro bought steak, boerewors and chicken and lots of sauces and spices that we couldn’t find earlier.
Hugo finds a Malawian airlines flight on Ethiopian Airlines website for tomorrow morning so we decided to go to the busier and more crowded Mabuya Camp Backpackers, where Caro would feel safe for the night she has to stay alone.
While Hugo finalised the booking Caro made steak and couscous -unfortunately in the pan as they didn’t have firewood available.
When Hugo wanted to surprise his parents that he will be flying to Johannesburg for a day, they surprised him even more. His mother is also flying to Johannesburg tomorrow for a conference and will land just an hour before him. They thus arranged to meet and share the rental car and stay and the same guest house.
We went to bed after 22:00 after Caro packed a bag for Hugo.
The next morning Hugo got up at 05:00, took a shower and then met the taxi driver at 05:25.
Checkin technically opened at 05:20 already, but even at 06:00 when he arrived the airport was almost still locked. There weren’t even security to scan his bag.
The online booking required payment at the airport so Hugo was a bit stressed that the office won’t open in time. By 07:00 the office opened and Hugo could pay the online quoted price. The flight via Blantyre left on time at 08:20.
The vice president of Malawi was also on the flight so every announcement started with: “His excellency the vice president Saulos Klaus Chilima, ladies and gentleman we are now…”
We arrived in Johannesburg ahead of schedule and Hugo went through immigration first. He met his mother at Woolworths and together they got the car and drove to the University of Pretoria where the conference was that Hugo’s mother attended.
Hugo could then attend to his business and also bought lots of things that were too expensive in Malawi, like Pringles and rusks, shampoo, multi-vitamins, etc.
After the conference, Hugo and his mother went for dinner before retiring to the Guesthouse.
Back in Lilongwe in the morning, Caro took a Tuk-tuk to the Shoprite complex where she bought a sim card and data. She ate chicken gizzards and coleslaw for brunch (something Hugo would never eat) and then went back to the backpackers where she worked for most of the day.
The next morning after breakfast at the guesthouse Hugo went to buy a UNISA textbook for Caro and then took an Uber back to the airport. His flight left at 13:00.
Hugo arrived back at Lilongwe airport at 16:40 at the same taxi driver picked him up again. Since it was peak traffic our they went through the vast residential areas of Lilongwe and only got to the backpackers by 18:00.
Finally after a long 36 hours apart the Two Monkeys were reunited again. Caro had already started to make food and soon afterwards we ate the boerewors and rice with chakalaka spice.
We still had urgent work to do and worked until midnight before going to bed.