From Ruaha we headed back down to the flats, and across the border to Malawi which lived up to its reputation as the “friendly heart of Africa”. As we travelled along, marvelling at the good quality of the roads, countless children and adults smiled and waved at us – the closest we will get to celebrity status!
Malawi is a great spot to take some time and relax. The lake is huge, over 75 kilometres wide in parts, and 560 kilometres long. It is home to hippos and crocodiles, but we found some places along the way where the most dangerous part was the bar tab! The water is crystal clear and home to amazing fish varieties, and we parked off for a couple of days enjoying the sunloungers and warm water and watching the local children rowing their traditional canoes and messing about in the water.
We found some great places to add to the itinerary for our trans-Africa expeditions, away from the traditional overland truck haunts which are great for the occasional party night, but otherwise not the types of places that we want to stay, and we are really looking forward to going back. Malawi really seems to have come along in leaps and bounds in recent years, with vastly improved roads and infrastructure, although the country is suffering (as so many countries in Africa are) with the AIDS epidemic which is destroying families and almost wiping out a whole generation.
So much of the experience of travelling in the way that we do is about chatting to the local people, wandering through the markets experiencing the sights and smells and enjoying the scenery – from magnificent mountains, valleys of Baobab Trees or coconut trees, stacks of firewood and charcoal for sale by the side of the road, beautiful villages with elegant women carrying huge loads on their heads and babies on their backs, to convents high on the hill serving as reminders of the impact of the missionaries.