Malawi

On a different note, I want to bore you what we did over Christmas 98. The idea is to show you that there is a world out there easily accessible by 4*4 (a well built 2*4 will do). Also I gave a lot of prices and so on that you can see that your Bank manager is not going to be too offended. In total the 2 of us spent about 8000 N$ in total. Of course this excludes the necessary funds to prepare the vehicle and its wear and tear. I will follow up this story with an Article on how to setup your serious Off Road Adventure wheels. So read on and enjoy!

13 December 1998 we left from Windhoek to visit our Friends Joerg & Maria in Otjiwarongo. After relaxing for a few days we left on the 16’th for Rundu were we proceeded to fix an Exhaust Leak and enjoyed a Merry evening in the Bar. Please be cautioned on using the Honor system anywhere, you can be surprised later at what certain Drinks might cost you- in this case Vodka Passion Fruit Lemonade. The Mayani Lodge 10 k’s out towards Katima can really be recommended for its Jovial Atmosphere.

On the 17’Th we overnighted in the West Caprivi Nature park- by a Tip given us by our Friend Frankie- this was most peaceful. Sadly this is all spoilt now due to our governments intervention.

On the next day we traveled towards the Border, being amazed at Namibians generally throwing their empty Beer Bottles out of their vehicles. At the Botswana side we were told that our Vacuum packed frozen Meat would be confiscated although we had a Bill of health from the Atlanta Meat Market. By the corpulent Figure of the Official, we were certain on what his means of "Destroying" the meat were. After much pleading and being told he had no reason to give receipts for confiscated Articles- we were allowed to proceed with said meat. That night we spent at a deserted camping Lot at Kasane were we spent an outrageous 60 Pula to pitch our Tent.

The crossing into Zimbabwe was Uneventful except for Urda being allowed to cough up on a recently introduced Visa system. Apparently this and the cheaper life in Zambia is causing a lot of operators to switch from Vic falls to Livingstone. Mugabe’s antics are really helping too. After seeing the falls for USD 10, we proceeded to travel towards Bulawayo taking a short cut from Lupane to Kwekwe. This was not such a good idea as the roads consisted of heavy washboard and had already been attacked by Rains, though were scenic nevertheless. This left us finding a Communal Rest House at Nkayi were we spent 120 Zim $ the night and had a great Supper and Breakfast for next to nothing. This should set an example for others. The next Morning left us cruising towards Harare and plenty of Roadblocks. All these blocks were manned by pleasant Officers and will remain so for the rest of the trips and other Countries. Typically you were greeted with a friendly " How are you?" and after exchanging pleasantries, we were normally asked if we were married and upon a Blushing denial were asked "why not?" Beats the Namibian "Where are you from? Where are you going ? You may proceed!" After driving through Harare and Thunderstorms, we arrived in Mutoko, our trusty Michelin Map advised accommodation. Well the guy at the Roadblock told us "Due to it being just before Christmas, I would not advise you to stay at the ruins but rather at the Police Station." So that is what we did spending a night cooking in the Witnesses kitchen being nearly blinded by the Smoke from the moist wood. Next Morning after we watched a Goat being lead out of the Prisoners cells, we fled. The Mozambique Border was Chaos and this remained at all official Institutions for the rest of our trip- rest assured it is not only Windhoek Home Affairs. Travelling towards Tete surprised us with an A1 Road and a beautiful countryside. Tete now wrecked by the Civil war, must once have been a most beautiful resort. As we were told later, should you stay at the 4 Story gutted hotel, your car will be guarded by an Armory that would make Comrade Dr. Nujoma’s Bodyguards blush. Petrol is available by the roadside from Dirty fuel canisters. Coming into Malawi had the Ignorant Immigration official declare we were unable to speak English and there was no Town on Mozambique’s coast called Mocambique- this was originally planned as our "Ziel". Late that Afternoon we decided to Camp over at Wilderness Safari’s camp Mvuu in the Liwonde national park. This proved to be a Luxury Lodge charging USD 3.00 per person to camp and USD 7 for Eggs, Bacon and sausage for Breakfast. We were definitely not worthy of this establishment. Yep the view is Beautiful etc. but more for the Fly in Crew. Also to be told that we should not touch the Hippos wandering through the camp at night, but otherwise they were all right made me shudder (and Urda reach for my hand after having one stand between her and the Bathrooms). On the 22’nd we drove up to the Lake after refueling on the Dirtiest Fuel ever (I thought I had burned Valves)- but we met 2 South Africans who excitedly told us about these great Campsites costing only USD 1. Then we experienced Malawi shopping- this is similar to the former east block were you bought whatever was available. 2 Small goats later (no not for food but badly tended and thereafter gracing my diff.) we decided to book in at the Club Makokola Protea hotel campsite which cost 351 Kwatcha had a club Med ambience and shielded you from the Locals but not from the Vaalies. This is where I stripped my moer and Urda agreed " no Mozambique, lets find something decent". Only 20 Minutes up the Road was Nanchengwa, which provided you a tree house for 2 people for USD 6. This was perfect, a farm style setting, romantic and owned by a local family that had been forced out of Tobacco Farming. The Grandfather OB (Old bastard) to the youngest were most informative from History to local Culture and proved great Entertainers.

We spent a great Christmas there and left on the 26’th to go up North. Note everywhere but Namibia, the Locals work Sundays and Christmas as well as keeping their Hut spic ‘n span and the country tidy. Also Boozing is minimal. Of course Government officials as everywhere else don’t work those days. We finally hit Kande Beach that was run by Australians. For being in existence for 7 years, it was disgusting as you had to bath in the "Big Bath"- which is Lake Malawi (which I resent out of esthetic and Conservation reasons- note I am no Nature Nazi) and use an outhouse Dunny- Urda said on the Girls side you had a chance to see the Worms do their Job. But still the beauty and the Locals more then made up for it, with Messiah trying to force Greens, Boattrips and Dinner at his hut upon us. Well we took a Canoe and paddled to the Island were snorkeling really made you see the great aquarium. A great idea, which we did not take advantage of, is that the Camp owner had organized with the Locals that tourists could walk through their Villages and have a dinner with a Local Family at their Hut.

On the 28’Th we left for Senga and then stayed at The Steps, which seemed part of the Livingstonian Hotel (Similar to the Mount Nelson). The 21-Km stretch of Road separating us from Salima was the worst encountered, with Potholes ready to swallow a big screen TV separated by 2 meters of cracked Tar. Little Children were beleaguering said Potholes and attempted to fill them with Dirt, upon seeing a Tourist approach they would drop their Hoe and hold out their hand shouting "give me US Dollar". Urda did not have the presence of mind to ask whether they wanted it in Travelers cheque, bank draught or Cashiers Cheque. On the 29’th we proceeded to Lilongwe to get some Customs papers renewed- the officer was most helpful, except to send us across Town to pay 70 Kwatsch as the cashier was absent that day. Well we decided to return to Nanchengwa for New Years, as this place was so great. On the same day though we took a shortcut through the most scenic Mountain pass ever, which started just after Dedza. At first we thought we had driven on Virgin soil, though the amount of kids offering us exact replica’s of 4*4’s carved out of Wood soon made us forget that notion. The night was spent at Fat Monkey’s at Cape Maclear that had just opened and also wanted to cater for the Overlanders- this seems good revenue. The next Morning found Urda staggering out of the tent clutching a white Roll of Paper and immediately being accosted by the locals with " You want to come with me snorkeling. Beautiful key Rings madam. I take you to Island. Etc." Urda thereupon told them to" go forth and reproduce", in a most Unladylike manner. Point is for these Camps to go into an agreement with the Local Chiefs, so that these guys will stop harassing the tourist and in turn actually sell something. Mr. Fantastic first wanted to take us out to the Island on a Mokorro, but when a storm started the next day, we went with him by Motorboat, snorkeled and had a very tasteful Lunch prepared by him. Though when it came to paying there was a "Misunderstanding"- again if these guys go into co-operation with the local camps, it would benefit us all. Nanchengwa and New Years was Bombastic, fantastic, well words Leave me- aehem so did my mind and the next day my Bowels. Yep I drank the Local water- while snorkeling and from the Tap. Urda came down 2 days later and we were literally suffering for months.

Originally we wanted to Leave on the 2’nd after the babalaas, but our Bowels made us change this to the 3’rd. We then decided to drive back through Tete, Gantzi, Maun and spend the Last Weekend on Urda’s dad farm to get back into Civilization. Well coming to the Mozambique border found us with a single Entry Visa that by now had been used up. We had applied for a Multiple entry Visa, but the Mozambique Embassy had been as inefficient in action as it had been on the Phone. So we returned where the Malawi Immigration Official decided that we had been in the country illegally and had now go to court. Our Stomachs made us ignore the Pompous ignoramus and he finally told us to "Put your passports away" so we went back through to Lilongwe with unstamped Passports. Originally we had gotten Urda a Visa for Zambia but decided to skip it due to horror stories of bad roads and worse Policemen- the attitude of the Mozambican and Malawi border people decided to make us change our Minds. On the way to Lilongwe with Gut Cramps and a thunderstorm approaching my Alternator Bolt Broke of. But as a team we got going within 20 Minutes with the Locals watching us: unpack the car to get the tools, removing the alternator with bracket to remove the broken bolt from the head and storing all again- Schumachers Pit crew would have blushed with Embarrassment. That night we stayed at a nice place called Kiboko with Hans advising us of Campsites in Zambia on the way to Lusaka. Next Morning we set of to Zambia without a Hitch (I marveled at the Locals welding said Alternator bracket with a homemade Stick welder). In Chipata, Shoprite and other South African based consumer shops greeted us. After paying over R 4 per liter we left on a trip that took 11 Hours for 580 KM. The Police were friendly and the Road approached with sense was definitely Driveable- which again shows "Don’t believe what others tell you- find out for yourself". Late that Afternoon we got to a place just before the Massive River Luangwa that promised "Camping overlander Welcome", a steep road led down the hill with a Construction site on the Right and a peaceful Campsite greeted us at the Bank of the River- Perfect ! Well a Gentleman came out to greet us and then advised us that it was an Officers camp and the Campsite was just up the Road and where did we come from ? When we replied "Malawi" a fat smile spread across his face and he exclaimed "Did you bring us anything good along?" After showing him our 2 Rugs, we left a rather disappointed Officer behind. At the Building Campsite we were told "Maybe 6 Dollars" and left. The Projected campsite would have been beautiful with a view over the River and all, I’d gladly stay there a few days, but not in a Rubble heap.

Early that night we asked at Rufunsa were the campsite was- general confusion reigned at that point which got compounded by Urda asking for the Mosque (I am sure the direction for the Campsite with the mosque were for Livingstone). Also the older the people are the better their English- this I attribute to the degradation of Education.

We struggled on through the night with yours truly being reminded of not practicing what he preaches- in blinding Rain and forests you use Foglights not 330 Watts of Daylighters set for Namibian Deserts (no need to tie me to the whipping Post the strong Pain in my Left shoulder reminded me of my folly for 3 weeks). Annycase finally we get to a signpost just before Lusaka stating "Pioneer Campsite 8 km Right", well then we get same sign stating "3 Km left" then "2Km Right" and so forth. Finally "200 M Right Clean Ablutions". By that time our Guts were feeling as if we were to give Birth to triplets, so Joy spread in the Hilux until we hit a Closed Gate and no Hooting etc. would get it to open. So we did what anybody else would do- pitch the Tent in their Driveway ! On the 5’Th January we got hold of the Gatekeeper who profoundly expressed his Apology and telling us he "was wrecked last night" and camping cost "maybe 5 Dollah". So we shot through Lusaka in early Morning Traffic and it reminded me of Gotha just after the wall fell.

On the way down to Livingstone I noticed a Rear shock mount that was cracking and we got that welded next to the road for +- R 10. This is great about Africa, no Complications and Cheap.

Arriving at Grubby’s in Livingstone, we sadly found out that it was for Overlander Trucks only (this is actually a good idea as quite often lone tourists like us to get overlooked in the Hubbub of a whole truck- where is our Promised Boat trip at Nanchenwa ?) We checked out Fawlty Towers that had no Camping facilities as yet and ended up at "Jolly Boys" which was run by an Ou Top who had been living in Overland Trucks for the past 30 Years. Tuesday was spent in an excellent Museum, then seeing the falls for USD 5 and going for a Booze Cruise that evening. Here we met Frank who was an American Teacher from a Peace Corps school in the Usambara and after serving 3 Years there was on his way to … you guessed it – GOBABIS. Also a Schotish Barman who enthused about the help he got from Honda in Namibia and the incredulous looks he got from others when he wanted to travel Damaraland/Kaokoveld on his own on a XL 600. The next Morning we left for Katima. On the way there we traveled a badly potholed road that had later on been Re-graveled and forced to a speed of 40-60 KPH. Ah yes we were then stopped by a Roadblock with a Policeman that must have been Drugged, and the only time we felt uneasy the whole trip. After being Interrogated, what we would do without our Map and being asked why we had nothing to smoke "seeds or so". We were finally let go after he stumbled to the back of my Hilux, saw the Bumper sticker and Confiscating our Tabard stick when we told him we had no food for his Munchies.

Taking the boat to Katima we were finally confronted again by our Unfriendly Border guards and a City smothered in Filth but Oh Joy: a Bottle store and a Sentra. "Kaufrausch" best described our feelings- but the remaining R 500 in our pockets and the prospect of the nearest Standard Bank being in Grooties curbed our Shopping spree. People jumping Queues etc. all made the "homecoming" seem bitter. After again getting our shockmount welded for N$ 20 we shot through to our "Secret" campsite, where we also started the trip. Sadly though a police Contingent was camped at a prohibited place, which was only to be used for Game Viewing and a CA Land Rover was also Camping Illegally a bit further on. On Saturday 9’th we traveled on trying to phone Joerg and Maria to ask if they were free for us that night- well we were desperate for finding an Audience to Narrate our Story to. After fending of Thieves in Grootfontein and getting Rammed in the rear by a Government Land Cruiser- we decided to take our chance with J&M (who we could not reach Telephonically) and travel through. I was all Edgy because I saw the Alternator bracket being Cracked through again- who wants to be stranded next to the Road in Namibia- the land of thieves. Early that evening we arrived and saw the Homestead surrounded in darkness- "Swakopmund for a week" we were told by their friendly Foreman. We slept in the Garage, welded the bracket the next Morning and left for Windhoek with Grumpy Urda who was longing for home.

We arrived that afternoon having traveled 7050 k’s using 1308 Liters of Fuel (with the Zambian stuff being the poorest grade) with 24 Fuel stops and 3.5 L of Oil used and none of our friends except for Parents and Eddy there to welcome us back.