Welcome to the Serengeti Trip series of blog posts! This series of posts covers the planning, packing and progress of a massive 70-day trip through 6 African countries early in 2011. The trip started on 20 January 2011 in Pretoria, South Africa, and is heading north through Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania to the legendary Serengeti National Park! From there the guys will head back south through Malawi, another part of Zambia and Zimbabwe… These blog posts are syndicated from the Official Trip Website.
Today was one of the most relaxing days so far on the Serengeti Trip 2011 and that’s the way we planned it. After two days of being stranded next to the road we decided to spend my birthday in stunning Nkhata Bay on the shore of Lake Malawi. For the first time in some days we slept in and then slowly made our way down to the bar where we treated ourselves to full English breakfasts. Soon after we collapsed in front of the television to watch some sport. The truth is: we actually watched the whole cricket match between South Africa and Ireland! I know, I know – why would one spend your birthday on your back watching cricket? To be honest, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it here in Malawi since both of us were dead tired and completely sports-deprived. Fortunately South Africa won! Thank you to everyone who sent birthday sms’s – I loved hearing from all of you!
You’ll be happy to know that we did go down to the beach too. Our camp, Njaya, is located on a steep slope right next to the lake and at the bottom of the lush gardens is a small private beach with breathtaking views over the water. The more time I spend here, the more I want to come back…for much longer!
One frustration we’ve had in Malawi is the fear of getting bilharzia. Apparently the disease occurs throughout large parts of the country and some say that you are virtually guaranteed of catching it if you swim in the lake. Locals believe otherwise, especially here in the north of the country. We are not willing to take chances, however, since we’ve gone through the trip without any major health problems. The son of a friend visited Malawi recently and got a very bad case of bilharzia, confirming suspicions and making us even more cautious.
The plan is to drive to Mzuzu Toyota very early tomorrow morning so that we’re the first customers when the doors open at 08:00. If all goes well we’ll have all our brakes working with enough time to spare to get us to Lilongwe before sunset. As you may have noticed we have not been able to stick to our original itinerary. It was always a rough one, though, and with extra days spent at great campsites and unforeseen breakdowns it was never going to be possible to stick to it 100%. We’ve had to make a tough decision regarding our route back home and have decided to skip South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. This will allow us to spend at least four or five nights in Mana Pools – a reserve we both really want to explore – and it saves us valuable money that is now needed to fix the Hyena. Breakdowns such as the one we’ve had are not cheap. Skipping South Luangwa is a huge setback, but gives us a great reason to come back in the future! I’ll pop in there when I come up to visit Malawi again!