Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Magical Malawi

The final day's cycle in Tanzania was a 158km ride, but one of the most beautiful scenic roues on tour so far. It's always a little sad leaving a magnificent place like Tanzania, but at the same time the feeling of excitement of a new country, new challenges and one more country closer to home quickly takes over that sadness.

This day of endless rolling green forested hills seemed the most appropriate way to say farewell to the green lush landscapes of Tanzania. With a mighty descent, we rode through the humid environment and reached the Malawi border at 115km in no time. After the border crossing we immediately stopped to enjoy a relatively cold coke and meet some Malawi locals.

On a sugar high from the coke stop, we decided to push hard and get to camp fast because the amazing Lake Malawi was waiting for us. Luckily, the road was paved and had a relatively flat gradient, so working together against the wind got us into camp quickly. I set up my tent and went for a long walk on the beach of Lake Malawi and enjoyed the feeling of being close to the water again.

The following day we had a short distance of only 92km to cycle into Karanga where, at the Chitimba campsite, we would spend our rest day on the water's edge.

This rest day truly made us feel like we were on a luxury holiday. Even the view from my tent was very pleasant.

View from my tent

We spent much time playing in the water, tanning on the beach and, of course, tasting plenty of the local foods.

Having dinner at a local's house around the corner from camp.
On the actual rest day, a few friends and I wandered into the small fishing village to find food and drink. The camp where we were staying was obviously overwhelmed by the large number of hungry cyclists, so to get food and get food fast it's always best to head away from the crowded camp and explore the local village. We stumbled across a very warm, cheap, cheerful and welcoming restaurant that provided us hungry TdA riders with all the local foods we wanted and each one of us was perfectly satisfied. We even took take aways and were welcomed into the kitchen to meet the chef. To follow was some innocent food art with the left overs.

The Kitchen

TdA 2013

Lizzy and Freek's TdA 2013 food art...
The following morning we awoke to the down pour of Malawi's greatest rainfall. Basically, the campsite was completely flooded by the time breakfast was being served.

Everything we owned was soaking wet and we had a serious mountain to climb first thing in the morning. This is never fun in miserable weather, however the view from the top over Lake Malawi made one forget the cold and the wet and that there lay about another 100km ahead to cycle that day.

The next few days in Malawi were much of the same wet, rainy weather. At this point, due to sleeping in a wet tent and waking up to wet weather, my cold and flu was getting worse and worse. With a rundown, exhausted system, I hit a low point, feeling ill and homesick. Our campsites were very basic, the usual soccer fields and no warm showers waiting after a long day on the bike.

But socializing around the camp fire at night did help lift people's spirits and in the afternoon the sun did appear just long enough to dry our tents, before the night time rains showers came down.

It was not long before we had our rest day in the Malawi capital, Lilongwe. There was not much to do, which is the best kind of rest day, because you actually recover better. I wasn't feeling very well during this time, so my rest day was spent doing my blog, sleeping and maybe going out for pizza, but besides that my aim was to get better and have no cold for the day's cycle to come. The campsite in Lilongwe had many youngster traveling through Africa, mostly overlanders, but each of whom had fantastic and interesting stories to share, yet another reason why I possibly didn't leave camp. So many interesting people to enjoy. There were also a few solo travelers who were trekking through Africa by motorbike. One in particular was very interesting. He had been on the road for more than seven years and had seen it all. This made me think, I might want to do more after this Cairo to Cape Town experience is over... The travel bug has bitten and it has bitten me bad!!!!

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