Thumper…

October 14, 2013

Likoma Island – Day 1

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 12:03 am
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Mango Drift

Mango Drift

I awoke to a beautiful morning – the first of many (not enough) on the Island. Breakfast was banana pancakes and honey, under the mango tree, overlooking the lovely lake. Wandered along the beach out the front of Mango Drift, taking in the view – water as far as you can see, flat as a tack all the way. Some of the locals were out washing and bathing while it was still cool in the morning and others had already done their day’s work – been and gone (fishing) long before others made it up.

Oarsome!

Oarsome!

Before it go too hot, we headed off to the south for a bit of a walk along the beach before it became a scramble over the rocks. The sparse shade around this part of the island from the gum and mango trees already provided welcome relief from the heat, even this early in the morning. It was great just wandering along the shore, checking out the rocks, the scenery, with the sound of waves lapping in the background, taking time to take some photos – nothing to do and all day to do it in! Lunch was pizza and the cooks do a great pizza!

Rocks in the lake

Rocks in the lake

When the heat of the day came, like the locals we took refuge from the heat – not in airconditioned comfort like we would at home, but lazing around Mango Drift, doing a bit of reading and sleeping. As it cooled down, I took the kayak for a bit of a paddle and enjoyed a swim in the lovely warm crystal clear water of Lake Malawi. I tried the dug out canoe as well, that wasn’t so successful… And before you laugh too hard, let me just say those things are really really difficult to use – in fact even some of the locals said that one there was a bit dodgy! Still, I dunno how they stay in those things, let alone stand up in them.

Gone!

Gone!

Before dusk we headed the opposite direction to this morning, taking a wander along the shore line up that way. Before long the sun was sinking again, another excellent sunset over the lake. The sun sinks so quickly here, you can almost see it drop. After that it was time for the communal tea, the table is set for everyone staying at Mango Drift and the cook comes up with a great meal and everyone gets to socialise with everyone else. Staying with us at Mango Drift tonight was a couple of the locals who work at Kaya Mawa and a couple of the pilots who had some interesting stories to tell.

A home among the gum trees

A home among the gum trees

Then back to the luxury of my little room, a great hot shower and off to sleep with the gentle noise of the waves.

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October 13, 2013

To Likoma

We awoke this morning to a beautiful day and decided to wander back into the main town area in Nhkata Bay for breakfast. Our task today was to soak up some sun, along with a bit of swimming and relaxing, all while enjoying the view – that was, after finding out when the boats departed for Likoma Island. It was a nice walk back from our accommodation to the main town area, kids were everywhere as they headed to school and the roadside shop owners seemed to have had advance notice that we were coming and were waiting for us like lions for prey. We were headed to the port area though, so much to the disappointment of the shop owners, we didn’t stop to browse their wares.

View of Nhkata Bay

View of Nhkata Bay

At the port area we managed to find one nice young man who made it his mission to make sure we had an answer before he left us. He was a rep for a sales and marketing company and had pretty good english skills. After he’d got all the details for us on when the next boat would be leaving (tomorrow), we shouted him breakfast at one of the restaurants near the port area. You can’t plan these moments and while at breakfast, he just happened to hear that there was another (private) boat possibly leaving that day. He gave our details to those people and they were going to call us in about 30mins or so.

Our boat

Our eventual boat

With a possibility of heading off to Likoma later that day, we wandered through the local markets, checked out the post office, banks and supermarkets along the main road while we could. Nhkata Bay is definitely a picturesque town with great views to be had of Lake Malawi from the surrounding hills. Deciding that our contacts were never going to call, we wandered back to our accommodation past the over zealous shop owners trying to sell us their paintings. We weren’t that interested in buying anything – who wants to buy paintings or local crafts at the start of a trip and then cart them around for the rest of the trip? These young guys were always thinking though and asked (well guessed really) where we were staying and said they’d be up with their wares in a few minutes. I honestly thought they were joking, but turns out they weren’t. Never before have I been hassled to buy stuff (from outside store holders) from within the place I’ve been staying. It was definitely odd – where you’re staying is normally a place of refuge from the hassle of over zealous salesmen, but these guys just came right up to where we were sitting and relaxing beside the lake. (And no, I didn’t buy anything, but the others did – their persistence paid off!)

Lake Malawi, Nhkata Bay

Lake Malawi, Nhkata Bay (View from Butterfly Space)

Having given up on this lead for a trip to Likoma today, and after finally getting rid of the salesmen, I started doing some washing, swimming and relaxing on the shores of the crystal clear Lake Malawi at Butterfly Space. Of course as soon as I started doing the washing, we get the call. We’re leaving NOW, are you in or out. Errr… we’re in, but it’s about a 20min walk to the dock, so can you make it 30mins… Surprisingly they agreed so we did the quick pack, checked out and hot footed it to the port as soon as we could. It was all a little mysterious: we had no idea who we were going to meet, no idea where the boat was leaving from – except the port “area” and truthfully – still no idea whether it would actually happen or not.

Washing

Washing

We found the boat and with nobody anywhere near it, (so we’d hurried for nothing) sat down to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the port area (aka waiting patiently while nothing much was going on). You may wonder, why would we bother with a boat we knew nothing about – well this was a speed boat: the journey was reported to take 3-4 hours instead of 8 hours.

To cut a long story short – we didn’t leave til about 1pm, the journey took about 4.5 hours, with 2 85hp outboard engines and 1 stop at Chizumulu Island. We followed the golden rule in Africa: sometimes it’s better not to ask questions. After our stop at Chizumulu though, we did ask a few – the boat was hired by USAID and it was a trip this boat did regularly (once or twice a month) to deliver USAID medications to remote and underprivileged areas and they often took extra passengers. Good thing nobody was smoking or playing with matches on board, as all the fuel spilt from refueling while moving would surely have exploded at the first spark.

Refilling on the go

Refilling on the go

With the sun now sinking fast, we got to Likoma just on dusk and then had to hike cross country to our accommodation while at Likoma: Mango Drift. It was dark, but even in the dark I was impressed. Malee and I were walking a bit slower, managed to get a little lost and took the long way. But, on arrival a lovely meal of chicken pie and vegies was waiting for us – we were made to feel right at home from the moment we got there.

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