October 7th – Day Thirteen
Breakfast was early for the walking group and we walked out of the camp gates at ten past six to find our guide. We had three guides in the end led by Wisdom, the others being Patrick and Godfrey. They led us slowly up through a local village towards the road that would take us to Livingstonia. It may have been early but is was hot and humid, the sun rising to our backs. It quickly became to much for Tina so she and Roger turned back before things got out of hand. With regular stops we walked upwards and after an hour or so pushed out of the farms and low scrub to have our path meet the road up the mountain. In the Lonely Planet the road is described as terrible for vehicles with 21 switchbacks climbing the hill. Our journey would be around 16kms to Livingstonia, after 11kms we would arrive at a waterfall and it was decided that this would be our goal for the day. The sun rose higher but for another hour we had mostly cloudy skies and a nice breeze blowing through. Dave decided at one point that it was all to hot for him but after a short rest and giving his bag to Patrick he got a second wind and continued. He may not have continued if one of the guides had agreed to walk down the hill with him but none of them did, we think they didn’t want to lose the opportunity to sell us things once we reached the top. Anyway, after this Dave was reborn and powered ahead of the group. We passed the last switchback and found ourselves on a red and dusty road leading around a ridge towards Livingstonia which we could see in the distance.
First stop on the walk towards Livingstonia
Dave and Patrick lead the way
We passed a sign for a place called the Mushroom Farm which advertised food and cold drinks. When speaking to one of the Chitimba bar staff yesterday she had mentioned this place as a good stop for lunch so we agreed to return after seeing the waterfall. Another thirty minutes along the road we turned off and after a short dirt track traverse we came to a clearing with a couple of small buildings and a view of the waterfall across the valley. Our goal attained we relaxed for a while, the girls buying/being sold bracelets while the rest took photos or sat having a cold soft drink. Once we all had our energy back and had drunk our drinks we got ready to trek back to the Mushroom Farm. The walk seemed easier this time and the guides showed us a short cut so it wasn’t long before we came out of the trees to find the oasis of the Mushroom Farm before us.
Posing at the waterfall viewpoint
We sat in a small room which had views over the mountain and down to the shore of Lake Malawi, it was a spectacular setting. We ordered drinks and food and then sat relaxing, talking and even juggling with the juggling balls and batons in the room. Jacques also gave us a lesson on using fill flash to enable photos of people in high contrast situations, like when you’re sitting in a dim room and want the bright background to come out with detail rather than a mass of white. We spent a couple of hours at the Mushroom Farm and had a very relaxing time. Before we left we took photos of the owner and her staff up in the open air kitchen and also a few shots of the toilet which also had a view over the vista below. And then we were off again on what seemed like a never ending trip down the mountain, Patrick and Godfrey were very playful and kept finding large rocks to push down slopes and also singing a lot. The road did seem to just keep going and I think we went down the easier but longer route which had us arriving back at camp shortly before sunset. The evening was the usual cooking, eating, dishes and further drinking and talking before bed. This time it was complicated by the number of people on site and the lack of decent facilities. The music from the bar kept us awake but eventually the days exertions took their toll and we fell to a deep sleep.
Dave and Patrick
The Mushroom Farm staff