Our plan is to head north and to do this we take a taxi in the morning inland to Mzuzu, and take a flatbed truck for the 4 hour journey through stunning hillsides and valleys to the lakeside town of Usisya. Here we stay at a newly taken over lodge run by Dani, a German woman. Nick from Chizzi island told us about the place, and knows Dani well. We have a bedded tent on the beach. It's another glorious place to stay. At the outdoor seating area we chat with Phil, an Englishman who has lived in Africa for 40 years. He has long white hair in a pony tail and has done all manner of jobs, from spear fishing to bus driving on the hippie trails in the 60s and 70s. Joining us at the table is the local chief and politician who are discussing the position of the newly found oil reserves beneath Lake Malawi, and the impact that this discovery may have on the local population. Several bottles of whisky and gin appear on the table. E & C have a delicious thai meal cooked by Dani, and then take an early night. At 6am we are up for sunrise and the chief and co are still at the table drinking...
Dani's lodge is still under construction, and as yet there are no showers, so washing takes place in the lake. We take a walk up to the high point of the hill that overlooks the lodge.
We depart next day on the afternoon boat north. It is called Jack's boat, and we say a fond farewell to Dani and Phil. The boat ride is enjoyable, and we chat with our fellow passengers. Stops are made for the usual unloading of goods and passengers and we are able to get right into shore. We arrive about 5pm into Ruware and one more stop to the Zulunkhuni River Lodge. We disembark at a tiny beach with a large smooth rock going up stone steps to a grassed area and into a candle lit bar with views down through the folliage to the lake. We rent a bedded tent and set it up before dinner. The moon is up and shimmering on the lake.
We meet Johannes and Lisa from Koln. Johannes is an expert juggler, and is more than happy to give lessons to E who is trying to improve. Decent juggling balls makes all the difference. There are also quite a few Brits volunteering on a project in the village of Ruware staying at the lodge, so it's not as chilled out a place as others we have seen and although we find it a very tranquil surroundings, we are good to leave after 4 days. We share a private boat back to Nkarta Bay and it's beautiful to be leaving before sunrise. The stars are still out, and as we head south, the sun comes up. There is a head wind, and gradually this gets stronger so that the swell increases. It's a bumpy ride then until we reach Nkarta Bay. We then get a lift with one of our fellow passengers who is driving south to Salima, and jump out at Nkotakota some 2 hours later. We then walk the 4kms from the roadside to the Stima Inn. The inn is an interesting building made from parts of old boats. Here we meet Pilar from Spain, who we met on Chizzi island, and we enjoy a delicious chambo fillet.
Next day we visit the Nkotakota pottery workshop that is owned by Chris who ran the lodge where we staying in at Likoma island. We take bicycle taxis from the main road to the workshop. We spend some time selecting some things to be made and shipped back to Europe. From here we hitch a ride south to Salima, before next day making our way to the Zomba plateau.
At the plateau we stay in a log cabin at the Trout Farm lodge. Pilar has travelled with us and we have a full day hiking on the plateau with a local guide we meet called Crispin. The plateau has diverse vegetation with pine forests and dense ferns and vines. The outlook is hazy so we are not able to see too far from the lookouts on the top of the plateau. We cook a spaghetti dinner in the cabin, and need our jackets on at this elevated height.
Returning to Zomba town, we have lunch, try and buy some US dollars for our pending border crossings, but are politely told at all the banks that it is only customers who may buy USD. The Forex also will not sell dollars if you do not have a work permit. And the black market has run out.
Taking a minivan to Liwonde we arrive after sundown and make our way to the Shire Camp, on the river. It is run by Billy, a local Malawian and he regails us with stories about Malawi's history and the surroundings. In the river are plenty of hippos.