After leaving Livingstonia and The Mushroom Farm, we headed back down the lake towards Cape Maclear, but not before stopping in at Makuzi Beach one last time to break up the trip. We were intending to spend four or five days in Cape Maclear, but we only ended up staying for two. After the relative tranquility of the north, it felt a bit intense down there. Still, the scenery is magnificent, and the fact that the whole area is a national park means the snorkeling is as good – if not better – than anywhere else on the lake.
We would have loved to get out to Mumbo or Domwe Island as both are supposed to be spectacular however we aren’t sure how much further we can stretch our fast diminishing funds, so we erred on the side of responsibility and stayed at the far cheaper Fat Monkeys campsite. We did eventually part with some of our money. We rented one of Kayak Africa’s boats on the second afternoon and paddled around Thombi Island out in the bay and then to Otter Point, just to the north. It would be our last afternoon on a lake that had held us spellbound from the moment we laid eyes on it. We’re already planning a trip back.
From Cape Maclear, we continued south towards the town of Zomba, which lies in the shadow of the misty Zomba Plateau. Up on the plateau, we camped for two nights in the grounds of an old trout farm, which, at R20 a night, was the cheapest accommodation of the entire trip. It’s a great place to go hiking, but unfortunately we both got really sick up there, so we didn’t do too much of that. I was feeling so shoddy that I took one of the Malaria tests we had brought along. It came out negative, but I took a course of Coartem just in case. In between the waves of nausea, we did manage to add some interesting forest birds to our list. We also met a very cool family from Cape Town who were doing a similar trip to us. Eventually we couldn’t handle being cold and sick in a tent anymore, and freewheeled down the hill into the first B&B we could find. We spent another two nights down there, before heading off to Blantyre.
Our last two days in Malawi were kind of non-events. We spent the first in Blantyre, which was a default stop as we needed to replace some broken things and replenish food supplies. The next was about 60 kms down the road at the foot of Malawi’s highest mountain, Mount Mulanje, where Kerryn’s knee played-up and again we couldn’t do much walking. I also still had a full course of Coartem pumping through my veins, which had the effect of turning me into a middle-aged, menopausal wench. With its luminous-green tea plantations and imposing granite domes, however, Mulanje is certainly a very pretty mountain. Hopefully we can go back some day and try climb it.
Despite the little wobble towards the end, as we trundled down the road towards the Mozambique border, we both reflected on what has undoubtedly been the coolest country we’ve been privileged enough to visit. We will be back!