From Zanzibar to Malawi

On our last day in Zanzibar, we go for another snorkeling excursion.

The good ship ‘Henya’

It’s raining on this side of the island, but more gently than before. Besides, we’re going to be in the bath-temperature water all morning anyway.

Maria schmoozes with the crew

There is a fantastic reef just a few kilometres away. Besides lots of fish – sorry, no underwater photos – we can see the wreck of the cable-laying ship Great Northern lying on the bottom.

View of Stone Town from the sea

Back near our hotel, Maria purchases a dashiki-like blouse in an act of solidarity with our friendly hotel staff.

Looks like a girl group

In a remarkably normal flight next morning, we arrive in Blantyre, Malawi.

Hills surrounding Blantyre

Our accommodation in Blantyre is an oasis of calm surrounded by a lively bus station.

The garden at Doogle’s

We also eat here. One night we have pizza from a wood oven. It doesn’t hold a candle to our brother-in-law Chris’s wood oven pizza. People have been known to drive a hundred kilometres for Chris’s pizza. (Well, those ‘people’ are US, but no matter…)

It’s time for some more intensive near-term planning.

Garden view

In our quest to find a competent SIM card supplier, we visit a shopping mall. Like many urban places in Africa, there are shops that specialize in supplies for small farmers; seeds, fertilizer, hoes, etc.

In the window, we see something you don’t see everyday: snake repellant.

We wonder if they make ‘Monkey Repel’

Malawi reminds us of Mozambique in several ways. For one thing, people walk everywhere. For another, the women here wear wrap-around skirts called ‘chitenges‘ (ChiTENjay). Like the Mozambique equivalent ‘capulana‘, they come in thousands of bright colours and lively patterns.

Chitenge parade

Our first destination is the Zomba Plateau. The quaint town of Zomba at the foot of the plateau was the capital of Malawi until 1974.

(Maria likes the sound of the name ‘Zomba’. We give this name to our new rented wheels, a sort of mini 4WD vehicle made by Suzuki.)

We plan to spend the night here, but a combination of rainy weather and the non-existence of our targeted campsite convince us to move on.

From atop the plateau

On our drive back down the plateau, we pass many bicycles overladen with firewood.

Wooda, shoulda, coulda…

We end up spending the night in Liwonde. There is a national park near Liwonde, but we are reserving our game viewing for larger parks.

Zomba stationed outside our bungalow

Our bungalows have carvings identifying the cabins. Ours is the Buffalo cabin. In the morning, we find a tiny tree frog sleeping in the eye socket of our carving.

Jeepers peepers

This is Damiano. He’s preparing our dinner of grilled chicken and vegetables with rice.

There are mango trees everywhere in Malawi. So of course there are mangos for sale all over the place.


We catch our first glimpse of Lake Malawi. This is the prominent feature of the country.

The eponymous Lake Malawi

The lake is a source of fish. These ladies are drying fish on top and getting shelter from the sun below.

Sprat on a hot tin roof

The countryside is embellished by flame trees.

Delonix Regia

More overladen bicycles. These men are carrying great sacks of charcoal.

Coal runnings

Our goal today is Cape Maclear, on a scenic peninsula that juts out into the southern end of the lake.

We arrive in Chembe village. In addition to the usual small motorized fishing boats, there are a lot of these craft, carved out of a single log.

Old-school dugout construction

We stay at the Chembe Eagle’s Nest Resort. It’s at the quiet end of the beach.

When we arrive, we are the only guests, besides a pair of Finnish women camping in their snazzy Land Rover.

A blogger’s work is never done

This gentleman is delivering the fish for our dinner. They’re kampango, which we later learn are under threat from overfishing.

The fish man cometh

We’re thinking of spending three nights here. It’s tranquil and uncrowded at this time of the year.

Time for a sundowner

Sight or Insight of the Day

One thing we forgot to mention about Zanzibar. We are shocked – shocked, I tell you – to discover that it’s a hotbed of sex tourism for European women looking to hook up with Masai men.

Once you go Masai, you never go back – photo pillaged off the Web

At first we thought these Masai come from the mainland to flog trinkets on the beach and charge to have their photo taken with visitors. Like in Kenya. Then we noticed there were a suspicious amount of single women treating their Masai ‘companions’ to drinks and giggly conversations. Finally our hotel manager removed the scales from our eyes.

What can be the attraction? The mind boggles.