Distance: 185km (Cumulative: 20 496km)
Moving time: 3:30
Average speed: 53km/h
Road surface: 95% Tar
Fat Monkeys - R80 p.p
Right on the lake, strong hot showers
Caro said we should stop typing that we wanted to get an early start and then that it didn’t happen, but we really do discuss it in the evening. Today we again wanted to get away early as we wanted to go to the Mua Mission station and perhaps stay there if the internet is good, otherwise, we wanted to continue to Cape Maclear.
As usual we, however, only got away at 10:00. We got to the Mua Mission by 11:40. Unfortunately only the showroom was open and not the museum.
The detail in the wooden carvings on display was simply mind-blowing and we would love to have one of the carvings in our home one day, but for now it was too expensive.
Hugo took over the photography for a few minutes and went to take pictures of all the buildings and even sneaked into the church. The internet situation was atrocious so we decided to continue to Cape Maclear.
Just after one of the checkpoints we started seeing soldiers in full dress facing away from the road looking into the village. Soldiers were positioned like this every 20m, with every second soldier holding very old looking rifles. This continued for more than 2km until we reached a group of soldiers still jogging and taking up their positions, there were thus hundreds of armed soldiers. We didn’t dare to take any pictures after what happened in Rwanda.
The road from Senga Bay to Monkey Bay is all tarred, but very narrow and crumbling at the sides like most of the roads in Malawi so far. Just before Monkey Bay, we turned off towards Cape Maclear where the first section of the road is still gravel, but then from halfway the tar randomly starts again.
We set the GPS for Fat Monkeys campsite with the idea of just exploring all the options from there. Once we got there we, however, decided to stay. The only other campers were the British couple in their Landcruiser who have been there since last night.
We set up camp facing the lake with the entrance of our tent. The campsite is on the sand and the toilets are quite far away, but the showers have very good water pressure and temperature.
The lake in front of the campsite was again used for bathing and washing so we didn’t fancy swimming here, but we were determined to hire a kayak and visit an island here.
After setting up camp we heard a familiar Afrikaans voice. The couple from Oudtshoorn, Gerrie and Lisa, who we met at Bunyonyi had caught up with us again after doing Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania while we just went from Rwanda through Tanzania to Malawi. They just came to look at Cape Maclear but decided that it was going to be too noisy for them so they set off again.
That night it was quite as a mouse.
The next morning Hugo had time sensitive work to do so we couldn’t afford to be on a Kayak and not reachable. We thus took the cellphone and walked along the beach to the other end. There are countless lodges and campsites along the lake. The last few seemed to have the best position as there were no villagers washing things on the beach in front of them. It even seemed like there were some private muzungu homes with large lawns. Perhaps it is just holiday homes for rent.
We thought of moving camp to the Eco lodge as it was in the ‘quiet’ part of Cape Maclear, but we had no proof of this. We walked back on the road as our feet were close to bleeding from the small stones on the beach – we didn’t bring flipflops.
We bought chipsi (potato fries cooked fried in oil on a specially made iron sheet). These stalls are found all over Malawi next to the road and the going rate for a small blue bag of chips is 300 MWK. This time we even got a little salad with it.
Back at Fat Monkeys we took out our sauces and turned our chips lunch into a delicious affair. We weighed up the pros and cons of moving and decided to stay at Fat Monkeys.
We worked for most of the remainder of the day. After dinner, we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets of our trip so far. That night there was some more noise from the village, but we survived it.
The next morning we woke up to perfect kayak weather and promptly rented one. We set off towards a few rocks sticking out close to the island. Once we got close we could already see the bright blue lines in the water. We ‘docked’ and put on our snorkels and got the best surprise ever. We couldn’t believe the amount of fish and their bright colors. Most of the fish were different shades of blue, but there were also white fish and orange and all kind of combinations.
We got a bit cold and went to sit in the sun on one of the rocks for a while. A boat with Rangers then approached us and informed us that we are in the national park and needed to pay $10 each. We didn’t protest as the fish were so beautiful, but since we didn’t have any money with us they said they will come and fetch it later in the afternoon at Fat Monkeys – which they did.
Since we had to pay in any way we kayaked to the island and did some more snorkeling there between even more fish. On the island there were also lot’s of soldiers facing outward, some fishing and others just standing still. One soldier approached us and asked if we had any food.
Later when we asked the rangers what the soldiers were doing on the island he said they are training as they will be sent to DRC for peacekeeping sometime soon. That’s what the soldiers next to the road were also doing – training…
From the island, we paddled back to shore which took some time and energy. We wanted to snorkel at Otter Point as well, but time was running out so we paddled the 2.5km back to Fat Monkeys along the shore. In total we paddle more than 6km, so we were rather tired by the end.
Hugo went to buy chipsi again for lunch while Caro took a shower. We decided to stay one more night and were rewarded with one last amazing sunset before leaving the last of the great lakes of Africa for the foreseeable future.