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The Solo Scooterist

Documenting my travels on a Vespa

Category: Malawi

Soft White sands , Azure waters , peace and Hardship

My border crossing was a dream , changed my last few Zambian notes at the border , 20 minutes later I was getting my insurance  and within 30 I was on my way to Lilongwe having had my smoothest crossing yet. From here I had two choices one to cut across and up to Kande in so doing you miss out on Lilongwe , or head down to Senga Bay letting you start your exploration of the lake further down. I chose the later and so our 240 km  and 14 roadblock trip started.

The road conditions are surprisingly good , even though President Zuma would not agree , so much so that I managed to collect my first speeding fine by travelling at 63 km per hour  in a 50 km zone ,  Malawians  have radar to enforce the law which they do with great stealth and impeccable  manners . The continuous  licence and insurance stops are a slight bother , but the roads do feel safe with such a strong police presence.

As  one travels further into Malawi from the border one  is struck by the dramatic change between Zambian and Malawian life . Zambia feels energised , active and colourful , by contrast Malawi has a warm heart but breaks yours as you ride by hard labour , meagre pickings , dust covered  , threadbare individuals , etching out an existence , literally .  Never have I seen from the youngest to the oldest labour so hard for so little and carry such a difficult life with such dignity . I found pain in so many eyes that after a while I just looked ahead and focused on getting to the lake.

Seeing the lake for the first time is more impressive than you can imagine , so vast that your eyes  say ocean and your mind stumbles over itself trying to say lake as the vast blueness takes over . The calendar lake as it is known because it is 365 km long 52 km wide is something to see.

 

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Island style

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I ended up staying on the lake at a place called cool running’s , just follow the yellow smiling faces which lead you into camp . I had one of two choices to pitch my tent of settle for a tent with three beds in it , which after 14 road blocks made sense  , so off for a swim and  the rest of my time was just relaxing and chatting to a couple of South Africans Jana and Cloe , who are currently working in Tanzania and Malawi and it was great fun to have home grown company abroad .

 

Feet up

Feet up

I woke up to a fairly windy and choppy lake so I decided to ride up to Fish eagle bay lodge about 140 km from Senga bay and about 15 km before Nkhotakota . I had heard about  the unspoilt beauty of this place and after a little off road scootering arrived at my own camp and almost own beach.

 

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I spent the afternoon swimming in the lake and dozing off on the beach to the sounds of lapping water and the laughter and sounds of children playing in and around  the lake . As I relaxed in this really beautiful part of the world , I wondered if  beauty can only be enjoyed by those who have the luxury to find it , and  do those who labour here daily just to survive see any of it?

 

Billions of flies amassing across the lake.

Billions of flies amassing across the lake.

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Paradise found

Paradise found

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Tomorrow another day to explore the lake as I head up her shores.

Until we meet again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tanzanite , Emeralds and Finding Kawiya

The ride North from Nkhotakota took me into the Malawian Highlands , with the deep , deep blue lake on my right and to my left these tropical lands with mountains , valleys and forests , the road mimicking the shoreline . The road sweeping me along leaning left then right with this lush land cocooning me , the light between the trees winking at Vic and I as we popped  in and out of tunnels of trees.

It reminded me so of the garden route back home , just a great road for scootering . On the way up I wanted to go and meet Vincent’s family who live on the lake in a very unspoilt rural part of  Northern Malawi just past Chintheche.

Off road trying to track down Kawiya , Vincent's mom

Off road trying to track down Kawiya , Vincent’s mom

Still finding Kawiya

Still finding Kawiya

After about an hour and a bit with arms pointing left and  right passing the same tree and church for the third time , I thought I would never find Kawiya .

 

Kawiya , Kawiya please answer my call.

Kawiya , Kawiya please answer my call.

By this time I had met half of rural Chintheche and was the sole attraction ,  I came across a family working the land and somebody who was fluent in english  so I asked again  if anyone knew Vincent’s mother Oh came the chorus Mrs Kawiya , apparently there is a place called Kawiya , a man called Kawiya but only one Mrs Kawiya , next thing a random chap jumped on the scooter with the skill of a seasoned hurdler pointing me straight ahead and so down foot path after foot path we rode to finally finding Kawiya.

 

Kawiya found

Kawiya found

I spent a couple of hours exploring the lake and chatting to a couple of fisherman , enjoying the surroundings before taking the road up to Nkhata Bay .

 

Simon prepping his nets

Simon prepping his nets

 

Bike gear not very fashionable along the lake.

Bike gear not very fashionable along the lake.

The road I spoke about is best described through the eye of the Nikon , enjoy the road with Vic and I.

 

Vast deep blue

Vast deep blue

 

Mountains to the left

Mountains to the left

Beautiful rubber plantations

Beautiful rubber plantations

The winking forest

The winking forest

Mayoka's swimming pool

Mayoka’s swimming pool

I think I might spend a bit of time here before I take on the road up to Tanzania and another border crossing to a new and different African story .  A true beauty lies in the North .

Mayoka Village for my over night . I found it with the accomodation hanging on to the cliffs  for dear life , I am staying in a wonderful chalet with views of the lake from every window , door and the shower , perched high up on the rocks.

 

Don't drink and walk.

Don’t drink and walk.

 

Until we meet again

 

 

 

 

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Street life Nkhata Bay

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Farewell to a trusted companion

My day started early  leaving  Nkata Bay at first light so I could cross the border into Tanzania by midday  and then get to Mbeya for my over night stop .  The ride out of the  bay was a little sad , I really had enjoyed my time on the lake , but felt the need to experience something new.

The countryside as you go north is really beautiful and becomes less populated as you ride towards the border , the mountain passes dramatic in beauty , exciting riding , with the lake  my  trusted companion on my right . Sometimes at my side , other times in the distance just flirting with her deep blue waters.

 

Mountains of the moon

Mountains of the moon

The countryside got greener , the lake a deeper blue as I rode up to Mzuzu to re fuel and have some breakfast , winding roads up and up we went , stopping now and again to admire the beauty.

 

Mzuzu , coffee house , a must if you are in the area.

Mzuzu , coffee house , a must if you are in the area.

The Mzuzu coffee  is local to the area , rich and smooth it delights your palate , I wish we had it back home . Mzuzu is uniquely Malawi both in flavour and the décor. The service is slick , the samosas light , crispy and dense with filling . Made my day this stop did.

 

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Back on the road heading for Tanzania the mountains and the lake continue , children wave and the people of Malawi look up from their labour stained shirts to smile and champion me on , with me forever looking right to catch a glimpse of the lake . We have ridden hundreds of kilometres together enjoying each others company , her reassurance I was on the right path , her refreshing waters cleansing my weary body at every stop ,  she would wash the days sweat , tension and challenges  away with her fresh  deep waters leaving me feeling new . I knew it would be hard to say our farewells , she seems to hold the spirit of Malawi in her waters and leaving her was leaving the wonderful people of Malawi behind ,  but with each passing hour our end was getting closer.

In the mountains looking over the lake.

In the mountains looking over the lake.

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Down out of the mountains we rode back to lake shore and so then she started her graceful departure , as I looked right she ebbed and flowed from sight and by the time I got to my last fuel stop , she had gone , left me with the beauty of her and her people in my minds eye and my heart.

Thank you Malawi for welcoming this stranger , for asking his name , for being so warm and kind ,  for letting your waters  renew me , showing me all your world  , life and labour , your beauty and hardship from behind my visor and while I walked your streets , Until we meet again .

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Farewell my trusted companion.

Farewell my trusted companion.

 

 

 

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