Enjoying some family time at Senga Bay, Lake Malawi

The past few days have been spent relaxing, meeting up with some family, eating lots of delicious local fish and enjoying spending time at the beautiful Lake Malawi.

boat-trip-malawi-2-800x600On our first rest day at Senga Bay, Lake Malawi, we arranged an afternoon boat cruise to the nearby island called Lizard Island. Once at the island we snorkeled, Derrick went fishing, Cam and Bobby read their books and Warrick, Bryan and Gareth decided to swim to some nearby rocks where they wanted to rock jump into the lake. Our boat guide, Michael and his colleague prepared a Butterfish braai for us all which included a very generous serving of rice, tomato/onion mix and spinach. We then left the island in the early evening allowing us to view the sunset as we headed back to the shore which was really spectacular. That evening, Derrick’s father and step-mom arrived at the Sunbird Livingstonia Hotel where we met up with them for a wonderful dinner spent catching up on the past week’s adventures.

The next day, Derick and his parents headed back to the island in the late morning for some family time. Bryan kindly volunteered to donate blood as Sam, the owner of Cool Runnings Campsite, volunteers at the local clinic and cancer centre and had a patient that desperately needed a blood transfusion and luckily he was a match. Cam decided to get her hair re-braided as a lot of the braids were coming out from them blowing around in the wind whilst riding. One of the staff at Cool Runnings arranged for one of the ladies from Senga Bay to come through to the campsite to do her hair which was great – nothing beats getting your hair braided with a beautiful view of the lake.

Dinner on the beach in front of Cool Runnings Campsite with Derrick and Cam’s family

That afternoon, we all headed back to the Sunbird Livingstonia Hotel as Cam’s parents, the Armstrongs, were due to arrive. We all then had some afternoon drinks together with both Derrick and Cam’s parents before heading back to Cool Runnings where Warrick had arranged with them to prepare a dinner for us all on the beach. Electricity certainly is a luxury here by the lake and it seems to be the norm to not have power for at least 6-8 hours a day. Unfortunately, Cool Runnings did not have any power that evening for our dinner; however, they made a plan and we had an absolutely delicious meal on the beach.

The next day, Derrick’s parents had to return to Blantyre for business so Derrick, Gareth and Bobby went through to say goodbye to them after having some breakfast at the hotel.

We had heard that Monkey Bay and Cape Maclear are two tourist destinations worth visiting along the lake so we decided to make a day outing to visit these spots along with the Armstrong’s. It is meant to be about a two-hour trip but it took us nearly 3.5 hours to get there. Warrick’s mapping app suggested we take this dirt road as a short cut which ended up being very slow as it was filled with potholes; however, it was an eye-opening journey for us all as we really got to see how poor this country is and how most Malawian people live and spend their days. It is also very evident how desperate they are for rain in the area as the land is just bone dry. The dirt road eventually took us back onto the main tar road we should have taken from the start and we made our way to Monkey Bay.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that Monkey Bay is actually not touristy at all. We drove into the Monkey Bay Lodge and hoped to find a suitable restaurant for lunch but unfortunately they had no food or drinks to offer us. The lodge has a great view of the Monkey Bay port but that was about it so we asked them where they recommended we go instead which was Cape Maclear. To get to Cape Maclear you drive through the Lake Malawi National Park, which is set in a beautiful mountainous, rocky terrain and ends at the Lake.

Cape Maclear – Drying out little fish like biltong

At Cape Maclear we headed to Mgozo Lodge which was recommended to us by two Scottish girls who said it had the best food. After a delicious lunch, we all decided to take a stroll down the beachfront. It is amazing to just see how the lake is so important to the locals and how full of life it is; there are tables of tiny fish being dried out like biltong, hundreds of Malawians cleaning fishing nets, washing clothes, pots and pans and children swimming and playing in the water. After the boys had a swim in the lake we decided to start making our way back to Senga bay.

Lunch at Mgozo Lodge at Cape Maclear

We drove back along the tar road avoiding the dirt road “short cut” but we hit traffic hour on our way into the town of Salima; however, this is not your normal car traffic we are used to but rather bicycle traffic.It is incredible to see how many bicycles there are in Malawi and it really is the main form of transport in the country. You see people using their bicycles for transporting everything from wood, charcoal, goats, pigs, petrol and additional passengers. We finally made it back to Cool Runnings after negotiating the bicycle traffic along the way. Cam & Warrick went for dinner with the Armstrong’s at the Livingstonia Hotel and the rest of the team went to the next door restaurant along the beach.