By Matt Hampson
We are currently 57kms into our journey, just north of the fishing town Kombedza. Upon our arrival on the beach, we were immediately welcomed by the village chief who said that we could stay the night for free. I now know why they call this beautiful country ‘The warm heart of Africa’. The hospitality of the people thus far has definitely laid testament to it. I am sure that a lot of them have not seen an ‘Azungu’ (white person) before.
When travelling through Africa, one should always expect to run across a few setbacks. One such setback was when we were roped into the Harare night-life where we had a couple cold ones at the local watering hole Tin Roof. We left a bit later than expected the next day so were caught in Tete, Mozambique late into the night, which isn’t the most kosher of spots. Lucky our spirits were still high from the drive through the Tete corridor, which is the road from the Mutare border post through to Tete. Vast expanses of natural bush are littered with massive granite domes, ignited by the ethereal light of the setting sun, the quintessential African Sunset.
We have a good friend of ours, Samantha Luddick, joining us for the stretch from Senga Bay to Nkhata Bay. She runs a backpackers in Senga Bay called Cool Runnings. She has been such fun to have on board and has helped us so much with local relations.
Our departure from Senga bay was special as some of the kids we will be raising funds for came down to the lakeside to see us off. We have decided to donate the excess of our fundraising efforts to All Angels Primary School in Senga Bay in order to build some interest among the Malawian people.
Things haven’t run as smoothly as we had hoped since we have been on the lake. Day three saw the arrival of a colony of ants which ate their way through the bottom of our tent and then through Marc’s blow up mattress. Not ideal! The double ‘Yak’ has been taking in quite a bit of water, we suspect through the rudder shaft which is not actually sealed onto the boat. We were assured that this wouldn’t be a problem but we think it might be. Other than that the muscles are all very tired as can be expected and we are quite drained due to the hot weather.
The food we have been eating isn’t exactly your gourmet fare. Today we ventured into the nearby village where we got stuck into a traditional chow of ‘ncsima’ (mielie pap) and ‘usipa’ (local fish). Other than our one venture into a local restaurant, we have been eating mainly rice with stock cubes for flavouring.
Today marked the crossing of the 100km mark. I think a celebration may be in order as a small milestone of the trip was achieved.
Last night the weather picked up out of nowhere and we were left running around in the dark packing things into the boats and putting up tents. At one point I thought my tent was going to blow away when it started hugging the ground, almost as flat as a pancake. Then the rain started coming down in buckets. We had really been blessed with perfect weather up until then, but I think the lake was giving us a taste of what we should expect as winter is around the corner.
We woke up this morning and the winds hadn’t died down, however the rain had stopped. The water was very choppy and ‘white horses’ could be seen in the distance. Sam and Marc came across some guys doing repairs on their dugout canoe just down the beach who said that the wind would die down between 3pm and 4pm. It is amazing how helpful the local people have been to us. Often we have asked them for directions to the local market and they have guided and helped us without expecting anything in return.
By lunchtime the wind hadn’t really died down so we decided to brave the rough waters knowing that a decent night’s accommodation was about 15kms away. The paddle was tough and Marc currently holds the record for falling out the most. After three hours of rough water with swells coming at us from all directions we landed at our destination, Nkhotakota Pottery Lodge. A nice warm shower and a good meal are in need after five days of ‘rustic’ camping.