Onward to Lake Malawi

We are on our way to our first excursion in Malawi, Monkey Bay on Lake Malawi.

We just made a stop right before Salima for people to do their grocery shopping on the side of the road. Just to give you an idea of the diversity of crops sold, the entire market only sold six items: potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, bananas, soybean, and onions. They also sold chips (French fries) with cabbage for a nutritious lunch.

Sugarcane donuts, cookies, sodas, lollipops, water, yogurt drink, apples, and another strange fruit, and woven basket products.

At the next stop they diversified their products a bit more, adding pumpkin, squash, eggs, and groundnuts.

We finally reached Monkey Bay around 3:00pm in the afternoon, nearly 3.5 hours later than the expected arrival, but hey we expected that. From all my travel research and a few personal recommendations, we decided to stay at Mufasa’s Backpackers lodge at the very end of the village. We walked through the village by foot and arrived at Mufasa’s after just a few minutes of walking. I was amazed by how beautiful it was. The little backpacker joint has its own secluded beach surrounded by several swamplands or marshes filled with hippos and crocodiles. At first it is a bit intimidating to be in such close vicinity of large dangerous animals, but you get over it quick. The animals never leave the swampland because they prefer grass and reeds over wide open water areas.

To give you an idea of what it costs to stay at such a resort in Africa, Andrew and I will pay $16 per night for a bungalow on the beach (with the bathrooms unattached). We have a private beach and can rent all the snorkel gear we need for $1 per day. Meals of rice, fish, beans, and vegetables cost $1 per person and all-inclusive boat trips for an entire day out to the islands cost about $10 per person (for 6-8 hours on the lake). The bus to and from Lilongwe to Monkey Bat costs less than $5 either way. So you are looking at a 3 day trip for two people for less than $100 including souvenirs. We love Africa.

Since we got in a bit late today we spent our time walking around the camp, exploring the village, and tasting the menu at a local fisherman’s restaurant near the far end of the village. Rice, fish, tomato soup, and beans for Andrew and I cost only $1 — and it was delicious. 

We spent our evening lounging in the hammocks outside our little bungalow while snacking on tangerines, bananas, and popcorn that we had picked up in the village.  

We had a good chat with a lady from South Africa and a lady from Namibia (the owners of the lodge) about future trips we should pursue during our time in Africa. I think the Namibian lady convinced us to visit the Caprivi Strip (Namibia) while we are touring Zambia.  

 (Below: Andrew’s post)

 Kylie and I finally got to ride the buses in Malawi! We had to make an early run into old town to catch our bus to monkey bay (a little vacation spot on the edge of Malawi lake). Catching the bus was no problem… I just stopped a couple of people and asked them in broken English/Chichewa ‘old town busi?’ Guess the combination was effective since we made it to the main bus depot by 6:30, nearly an hour to spare before our bus’s scheduled departure. We got our tickets and boarded the bus. 

You think being in Africa would teach us a lesson… But apparently not. Maybe we got comfortable with the good roads and on-time departures, but we did not leave on time today. 

We sat for about 1.5 hours before the engine fired up… And it was another thirty minutes before we left. In that thirty minutes we had a local pastor climb on board, clutching his Chichewa bible in hand. 

My first thought was ‘this is such a nice country, and it’s nice that people are so religious here!’ The gentleman was left standing since there weren’t any available seats… But that didn’t stop him. He opened his bible to a particular scripture and started reading in a booming voice. Several babies onboard began crying at his loud disruption. 

At first I thought, maybe he’ll just do this briefly… 30 minutes later I wasn’t sure if he’d stop at all. His voice boomed out verse after verse and ‘hallelujah’ after ‘hallelujah’. One of the mothers shouted back at him after his sermon woke her sleeping baby and made him cry. The pastor responded with more booming versus of scripture. Both Kylie and I prayed he would stop or get off the bus.

Our prayers were answered and he got off at the next bus stop. As a result, the babies stopped crying and everyone on the bus relaxed a bit more. 

What followed was a relaxing 4 hour drive to monkey bay where Kylie and I chatted, snacked and just enjoyed the scenery along the way. 

We arrived at monkey bay to find a beautiful location. Situated about 5 minutes from the main village area, we decided to stay at Mufasa Lodge, a small, but beautiful budget accommodation. The lodge is located in a little bay where you can see the sun rise and set each morning and evening. It really is a beautiful place here on the edge of lake Malawi. Kylie and I rented a little room on the beach for $8 per person… Not bad for an island getaway! To top it off, snorkel rentals cost a dollar per person so I expect we’ll be jumping in the water soon!

One of the most memorable parts of our day was walking into monkey bay via the main road. We saw a little wooden craft shop owned by a nice man named Henry. The amazing trying about Henry’s shop was the little helicopters he had made from grass. They had a turning mechanism that caused the helicopter blades to turn. It was a pretty ingenious design!

For dinner we walked into town and got impunga wa nyuma which translates to rice and meat. It was delicious (I specifically asked for chambo, or tilapia fish since I’d seen a lot of goat meat around. Delicious meal at a fraction of what Mufasa lodge was charging.

As the sun set this evening the host guides who work at Mufasa gathered around the campfire with their African drums and began beating out several traditional songs. The scene for it was perfect. The moon was high overhead with sparse clouds drifting around the stars. You could hear in the background the sound of lake Malawi as it beat on the sandy beach. Everyone was illuminated by the light of the campfire, and to top it all off, the sound of 4 drums beating in rhythm. It was incredible. 

  

Village life in Southern Malawi…

  

City life in Southern Malawi…

    

Market shots from inside the bus…

  

Boabob trees with monkey fruit (think Rafiki in the Lion King).

  

Another beautiful day in Malawi.

    

Fishing for Chambo (Tilapia) in croc and hippo infested water.  This man is brave.

  

    

Inside snaps of Mufasa camp in Lake Malawi.

      

Dinner at Bwenzi, yum!

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