October 5th & 6th – Days Eleven and Twelve
These two days are together because we spent most of both of them driving, our travel taking us from Tanzania to Malawi. The highlight of the first days travel, other than the Farm House campsite at the end, was travelling through the Makumi Game Park. The highway goes straight through the park so we were all looking forward to seeing animals from the lofty viewpoint of the truck. The first few miles were full of trees and not a lot else, maybe the odd bird in the distance minding it’s business from the top of a tree. Then we started seeing animals, a few elephants in the distance, the off herd of gazelle and then we came across some elephants eating by the side of the road. There were three elephants, a mother and calf and another a bit further off. Charles stopped and we all took photos as the elephants mostly ignored us. They did move off eventually so we were once more on our way, the only other highlight being a baboon that appeared out of nowhere to chase us down the road; it didn’t catch us but I can report that a baboon at full stretch is a frighteningly fast animal.
Elephants in the Makumi game park
So we drove, stopped for lunch and drove some more. The light started fading and it was well after dark when we finally arrived at the camp site, the Kisolanza Farm House. It may have been dark but it was obvious that this site was a cut above the usual camp ground. Beautiful grounds with bungalows popping up out of the dark, a small bar in a far corner and it has to be said attractive composting long drops with showers warmed by brick stove fires. Keryn and I shared a bungalow with Kathy and Sharon (check out their site here for more information on this trip and their other travels: http://www.ksrtw.com) and after another good meal it wasn’t long before we were off to bed, tired after the long day driving and needing sleep for the early start tomorrow.
Early morning at the Farm House camp site
Sunrise from the camp site
Waking with the dawn it was a quick breakfast followed by photographs of the rising sun and then back into the truck and on the road again. I wish we had more time here, the highlands of Tanzania are stunning and with the golden post dawn light flooding the landscape everything looking all the more beautiful. The trees, hills and small villages soon gave way to frontier style towns of sandy coloured brick almost like something out of the wild west. The landscape became somewhat drier but we were still surrounded by trees and a mostly green view. After lunch the next stop was the border where we had an hour or so wait while we got the required stamps and some of us changed money. By now everyone is used to locals, especially children, asking for money/pens etc so we begin to have a bit of fun with them, not exactly leading them on but certainly not acceding to their demands (because they are demands, rarely are the requests polite). Once everyone was done and the truck was cleared it was a further few hours of driving through the hills of Malawi and then the landscape became flatter as we descended to the northern shore of Lake Malawi. The days destination was Chitimba camp site of the shore of Lake Malawi and we arrived with light still in the sky.
We parked up next to a Sausage Tree which has large, heavy fruit hanging from its branches. Jacques pointed out that if any of the fruit fell on a person that person would likely end up severely injured, so we all avoided sitting or standing in the strike zone. The bar (there’s always a bar) was situated on the beach edge, the shores here having fantastically soft white sand. Most of us set up tents along the beach as far from the bar as we could get. While we did this more trucks arrived and by the evening there were seven trucks on site and a lot of people. Over dinner we discussed the following days activities; a walk up to Livingstonia which is a mission set up by a Scottish group of missionaries or a visit to the local school. People mulled over the choices, those choosing to walk preparing for another early start (leaving at 6am) and as that included Keryn and I we went off for an early night.