Malawi – the Northern region

Bought diesel, EXPENSIVE at R22 per litre, and arrived Senga Bay at Stepps Campsite, part of Sunbird Hotel. 

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Sunrise at Stepps

Another beautiful campsite and beach but no people.  Only one other couple there and the beach was private. Strong southeaster wind blowing – you see not only GB has southeaster. Had to move to the other side of the car for shelter and to cook on the gas stove.
Left quite early and stopped at a Pottery shop and campsite for coffee and cake. Decided to push on and do 2 days travelling in one. We met 2 British folk who were importing Southern African crafted products to England.  Gave him a business card and told him to check our website – maybe they would like to sell Solveig jackets???
We arrived in Nkhata Bay after experiencing lots of rain and severe flooding. There were mud slides and trees had fallen down slopes. Quite cliffy and rocky area. Found Njaya Lodge which could accommodate us and tortoise.
That night it rained again but we were OK – early to bed after great steak with pepper sauce. We are creating such amazing healthy meals.  Brinjal, tomato, onion, green pepper, baby marrows and couscous.  Yumm divine!!.  Hardly eating any potatoes and not much bread. Ian is definitely losing weight – but I still have a damn tummy!! The situation of the Lodge is amazing- quite high up and mega steps down to the beach. Beautiful green and treed location with lovely quirky buildings. We climbed stairs – good exercise.

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Njaya lodge

We moved on again in the morning through the streets that were being cleared of the debris left from the storm.

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The route took us inland to Mzuzu, where Mzuzu coffee is grown, onto the escarpment up a steep pass to the largest town in the Northern region. We needed to stock up our food supplies and there’s a Shoprite. Bought Yoghurt, Mzuzu coffee and Mzuzu honey too, and bottled water which is essential!
Although Mzuzu is a large town its impossible to find a suitable – or any campsite at all. T4A, our GPS  maps program, is wonderful at finding very good campsites, lists the closest one to us where we’ve just come from! There were many expensive hotels and lodges listed as its a business centre and not a tourist resort. The rain was so heavy that the GPS lost its satellite bearings. In desperation we headed for a  coffee shop on the Main street, Mzuzu Coffee Den, and asked them if they could help us with information. 
They directed us to a backpackers called Mazoozoozoo not far from the restaurant. It was threatening rain again and we didn’t waste any time getting there. We could see why it wasn’t listed, as you can imagine it was dreadful!
A very run down place with a few permanent residents, mostly dropouts from society. We met a St. George’s Grammar school oldboy of 67. He looked much older and dilapidated and told us his bad luck story. Also chatted to a Rasta who worked there. And a regular tourist who was travelling by public transport.
Fortunately we are self sufficient and retired to the comfort of our “home” early and had a simple supper. It rained heavily that night but we were cosy under our awning with sides fixed.
The following day we were off to an early start and dropped in at the Coffee Den for a few plungers and topped up our cellular data again.

As and we left Mzuzu for the lake we came across bicycle taxis! We thought Zambia had lots of bicycles, but in Malawi everything is transported by the bicycle. Solveig just had to be transported on one too!

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The countryside glowed an irridesent green in the morning light after a good wash down by the previous days rain.

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Wooden bridge

We dropped down off the Nyika plateaux through the Rumphi river valley with its numerous waterfalls and terraced farmlands. Avacodos, papayas, tobacco and rice were grown along with the usual vegetables of tomatoes, onions and potatoes by the small scale local rural farmers,  while large plantations grew sugar cane on a big scale. Every now and again we came across an Illovo sugar mill.

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Fishermen with nets on the Rumphi river

We eventually got down to the Lake again at its altitude of 570m  above sea level. We carried on until we came to Chitimba and booked in at Hakuna Matata owned and run by Willie assisted by Magie.

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Solveig and George at Hakuna Matata

Willie, a South African from Pretoria has been here for years. He couldn’t manage this without Magie

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She is a gem, born in Malawi, educated in Zimbabwe, and employed by a security company in Pretoria that guarded Willies place of employment. She accompanied Willie and his wife when they started the business.

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Storm lighting at Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata is a lovely campsite on the beach. 

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We stayed there for three nights and met with some marvellous people again.

We were made so welcome by Magie. Couldn’t do enough for us.  Brought a long extension cable for electricity so we could camp with a view of the Lake.

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Mokoros at Hakuna Matata


 Lake quite busy with Macros and fishermen. We spent a lot of time in the thatched pub closer to the lake, downloading photos to the computer and transfering them to the Tab.
Willie came over to us early in the morning. A real Afrikaner, so full of interesting knowledge. His African history is superb.
The next morning we spent more time in the pub due to rain and met a Frenchman, Bruno, and a Canadian, Brittany. Such an interesting couple, Bruno’s been on the road for 16 years. He lives on his investments in business and property. They suggested lots of wonderful places to stay at in Tanzania and Kenya. We decided to stay another night and joined everybody after supper for chat in the Lapa.
Then next day we were on our way to Karonga. 

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Political supporters

The town was buzzing with  political rallies and in fact,  the whole way was alive with people. Waving flags and chitengas in orange. 
Supporters of president Joyce Banda – no relative to Hastings. Lots of official cars, blue light brigades and police road blocks.
Went to check recommended place to camp, but full of officials and no electricity points.  Decided to leave and on way out Gerrit de Vries, travelling alone in his Landy, was coming in. We’ve met before and we stopped to chat. We decided to go Beach Chamber Lodge instead, just out of town. So we all landed up there. 

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A very nice place on the lake, also full of officials.  We camped on the  beach alongside each other. Had a really great evening and chatted till late.  The ablutions were appalling and we skipped the showers in the morning.
Then off to the border once again. This time Tanzania…..

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About Ian & Solveig's Overland Adventures

Although we never achieved our original goal of reaching Norway overland, our experience was so unexpectedly rewarding that we've not been able to settled down again! So we added new destinations to our lust for adventure. We hope that you will join us in sharing new exciting places and encounters with the amazing people we meet along the way.
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