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LIVINGSTONIA, SPIDER BITES + STAR TRAILS

 

HELLO + WELCOME as always.

It’s G here today carrying on from my last post on North Malawi.

 

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We left Chitimba Camp and headed up into the Nyika foothills  to a scenic place called Livingstonia. A town founded by Scottish missionaries in the 19th century. A steep drive up a mountain through a series of tight hairpins got us there. It is a small town located on top of the Rift Valley Escarpment.  The road was dry when we headed up rocky and very steep. On the last hair pin we needed to do a two point turn so the Troopy could rumble up the steep incline. Low range all the way. No problems at all and a lot of fun.

 

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 :: A few hairpins to contend with :-)

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:: Livingstonia

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:: The church in Livingstonia

 

Once we were satisfied with our history lesson we rolled back down to our camp. Low and behold we find our old mates Scotty and Helene parked up in the pitch next to us. “We thought you guys would have been outta here by now”,  but after a quick look at Scotty’s ankle and an explanation on a little problem with his rig, we knew why they were still there.

He had been bitten by ‘something’. Either a tick or spider the local Doctor said. She advised him to stay put until he had finished a course of antibiotics. Then report back to her.

   

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:: The wound left by the bite after about a week I think

 

Onto the car problem now, Scott showed me the engine bay and it was covered in oil. He said once they had arrived at camp he noticed oil leaking from the car and on closer inspection and some advice from his trusty mechanic back home, found out that the vacuum pump was screwed. We racked each others brains and came up with a solution. A pair of vice grips clamped onto the pump sealed it for the time being and would hopefully get him into Tanzania, where a proper mechanic could fix it.

 

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:: The silver thing is our clamp! It got the Defender 300kms+ to Tanzania and a Landrover garage

We have chatted since, and it worked although his bite had deteriorarted into a festering lump of puss. He sent us some pics on WhatsApp from the hospital… check them out below but be warned.

 

 WARNING!!!

 

IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH OR EATING, THEN SCROLL DOWN REALLY FAST

 

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:: Scott’s festered spider bite. Anyone for ANKLE PARMIGIANA?

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:: Scotty having the cheese removed from his leg in a Tanzanian community hospital…. pooh, so gross!  {Image via wearthefoxhat.us}

 

We were camped at a place called Lukwe Eco Lodge. It was a proper ‘Eco Lodge’. Solar powered, composting toilets and almost everything has been built using local materials by the owner, Auke. He was born in the Congo to Belgian parents and after he and his family were evacuated from the Congo after 18 years he decided to do an ovlanded trip through most of Africa. He then settled in Malawi. This rated as one of our favourite places to stay of the whole trip so far. So peaceful and relaxing.

He and his wife run the lodge and have also started an amazing permiculture garden where they grown their own produce. Most of it ends up on the table at their restaurant and it has been by far some of the best food we have eaten in Malawi. It has inspired Kirst and I a lot.

 

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:: The view from the restaurant area. The deck, tables, chairs, lights, bar and everything you see has been built by hand. Auke has some serious talent. The view takes in Lake Malawi and Tanzania.

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:: I LOVE this! Auke made this light completely out of wood

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:: Auke also grows, roasts and grinds his own coffee. As a coffee lover I can say that it is was a fine drop!

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 :: Christina was happy doing her thing in the Lukwe garden. Building a toilet and rendering the walls with mud.

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:: We absolutely loved our time in the garden with Alex. He was a passionate, empowered man who loved his garden. He was so grateful for his job and the chance he was given to manage the Lukwe garden. We were just popping past the garden for a look and ended up chatting for an hour because of his passion.

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:: Lovers Nest Restaurant – we didn’t eat here but the view was fantastic overlooking the water falls

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:: Manchewe Waterfalls

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:: Lukwe Camp, it rained every night and the air was crisp

A few more days were spent chatting with Auke and enjoying his lodge, but by now we were ready to leave. On the last day we met two young Israeli doctors who we had a nice chat with at the bar. Kirst has been missing chatting with smart chicks her own age, so they were a brief breath of fresh air.

They headed off back to the camp next door and we later saw them walking on the road. We asked if they wanted a lift. With no seats in the back we told them to do what we tell the African’s to do when we occasionally drop someone, somewhere. “Stand on the side steps and hold on”. They loved the ride and thanked us before saying “Hopefully we see you in Israel one day”. Yeah we hope so too!

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 :: Avital + Anna from Israel hitching a ride

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:: My first foray into star trails

We left the mountain and headed back down to Chitimba Camp where we spent another couple of nights taking some pics and chatting with Ed the Viking.

The next biggest town was Mzuzu where we needed to renew our 30 day visas for Malawi and sort a few other things out. We stayed at Joy’s Place just down the road from the new Shoprite supermarket. Free Wi-Fi four young puppies running around and unable to camp we opted for a comfy bed.

A week or so before we visited one of Malawi’s larger towns Mzuzu and run some overlander errands. Topping up our gas bottle, car maintenance, renew our visas and car insurance. It was here we met Abi. A young 18 year old volunteer who was teaching at local schools in Northern Malawi. She was in town recuperating from a tummy bug and we felt particularly sorry for her being all alone and so sick. We tried our best to cheer her up with an easter egg but she was far beyond eating at that stage.

When we left Abi we said we would come past the school she was working at on our way up North. Pretty inspiring, that as an 18 year old (mature beyond her age) she has the courage to live and work by herself in a place where she has no running water or electricity.

 

 

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:: Kirst + Abi at her school in Ngara

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:: A UNICEF funded pit toilet being dug out by some human African excavators. I said “Hard work ay?” and one of them retorted with “We don’t have Mzungu brain. We have man power”  through hard shale and solid rock

 

While we were in Mzuzu I wanted to get the front axle seal replaced again. This is the fourth one in a year – due to the roads we have been driving and it’s also a common complaint in an old Troopy we’ve been told. So we headed to Mzuzu Toyota, booked it in and a day later it was done. I also requested some new wiper blades which they happily installed for us. The bill arrived from behind the big desk and we calculated the cost of it back to AUD. I started pissing myself laughing! They wanted to charge us AUD$62 for the wipers. They double checked the bill and said “Yes this is correct” and I said “Well if it is, could you please remove them and put the old ones back on”. “Yes of course. No problem sir”. If we were driving a BMW I could handle paying 62 bucks for some wiper blades but not an old 1989 Landcruiser. To make it funnier each blade was a different length and was being charged at a different price, because one is for a Landcruiser and “One is for a Hilux Sir”

 

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:: Out of the car and into a bed at Joy’s Place in Mzuzu

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:: Puppy love at Joy’s Place. Two of the puppies – Tank the small Jack Russell + Suni the14 week old Rottweiler x Ridgeback. She is going to be massive when older

Our time spent in Malawi has been real rewarding. We both feel as if we have seen the happy side of country locked in poverty. Malawian’s do not have much money but they all seem to have hope. Friendly, kind, generous, people living in what they call ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’. It is pretty cliche but I have to agree. If you are ever after an easy relaxing holiday in Africa, then head straight to Malawi. We loved every minute of it.

 

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:: The roads in Malawi were very good. Poverty and the high cost of fuel makes it hard for local people to afford so when you can grab a lift off someone. You do.

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:: The usual mode of transport for most Malawian’s. They carry all types of things on their bikes, including goats on stretchers.

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From the northern part of Malawi we headed to the border town of Songwe. Next stop Tanzania.

Thanks for stopping by our little corner of the web.

Onwards we roll.

Cheers,

GK Signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

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