Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Malawi

Lake Malawi has an area about equivalent to the area of Wales! There is, however, more to the country than just the Lake. The walls of the Great African Rift Valley rise, in places, from the shores of the Lake [about 1500 feet] to a quite mountainous terrain with streams, small farms, rocky hillsides and cold, cold morning temperatures! Some mornings have almost been frosty. The views are spectacular when you get up high and you can see for miles…even to the other side of the lake.

Large numbers of fishermen get their living from the lake using various methods to catch the fish. Most entail going out in a mokoro, paddling it across the water, sometimes they dangle a line other times they use a net…they row out from the beach in a semi-circle towing a net behind them, when they reach the shore they rest for a while then they start pulling the net in. It takes 5 men on each end of the net, and about 20 minutes of hard rhythmical tugging and on the occasion we watched, all for a bucket full of fish. Apparently this is the windy season….there is always a breeze….so the fish swim lower in the water, and the catches are not so good. We had a delicious meal of Chambo, which is only found in Lake Malawi, one of the nicest fish we have ever eaten. There are environmental issues here too, as the fishermen are catching smaller fish which are the breeding stock for the future….what a dilemma!

                                             
On our way inland we came across a rubber plantation…tall rubber trees with a slanting groove in them and a small pot hanging under the slit. The liquid rubber trickles down the slot into the pot!! In addition to the industrial rubber collected by the factory staff there appeared to be a local trade in rubber balls made from the dried strips of rubber when the tree stopped dripping. These strips were wound into balls of varying sizes and sold at the roadside…no delivery miles for those balls!!

 

Apart from following the edge of the lake we went to a wildlife reserve along 30ks of rough road. There were signs of tobacco growing and we met a loaded lorry that was off to the auction floors in Mzuzu. There were small houses all along the road…Malawi has more people per square kilometre than any other African country we have been in…making it hard to find a lunch-time picnic spot!! We spent 2 days sitting close to the lake…and wandering about a bit…hippos slept on the shore all morning sunbathing, then waddled off into the water. Baboons and monkeys clambered about in the trees…the little ones were really cute…and various antelope came to the water to drink, impala, bushbuck and kudu. It is really good when the wildlife comes to you!! We had campfires each night which we shared with some other Brits…all good fun and lots of chats about experiences in Africa.

 Justlook at the mouth on that hippo!

After a quick flit back to Mzuzu to stock up on a few essentials, we headed north to Chitimbe where we were greeted in the campsite by 4 large Overland Trucks, about 100 people and a really cute chameleon!


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