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We entered Malawi on the last day of May 2004. We went down to the shores of the Lake for a sandwich before turning up into the hills. The road up to Livingstonia is winding, lumpy, very steep in places and narrow. The first 16km contained 20 hairpin bends. It was exciting but nothing Nelly couldn’t handle. We stopped to take in the view at the mushroom farm before going into Livingstonia itself. We peered and wondered at the large number of brick build buildings in one place, albeit very spread out.
     

 

Photo 1941 Nelly at a funny angle on the road up to Livingstonia
 
We stayed at the Lechwe Permaculture campsite with 2 cute piglets and guineafowl wandering around. The next morning we walked through the rainforest to the waterfalls with our self appointed guide, the campsite dog. A short scramble led us to the caves at the back of the waterfall where the sound of the water was amplified and we looked out through the mist towards the distant Lake.

Photo 1972 Helen in the cave behind the waterfall

 

The next day we drove along the top of the escarpment towards Rumphi and onto Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve. The tracks here were almost too low for Nelly. The reserve has lots of elephants that hide in the forest. We often heard them before we saw them as they trumpeted to show their unhappiness as they flapped their ears at us.

 
The campsite is completely unfenced and as I went to drain the potatoes for dinner, I disturbed an elephant about 5m away from the front of Nelly. No fuss luckily, he just wandered off. Next morning we continued our exploring and sat watching as a group of hippos heaved themselves out of the water onto the mud for a rest.
 
Photo 1992 Nelly and the elephant
 

After the reserve we moved southwards to the Viphya Plateau. This is a large undulating area of Malawi, nice and cool, and mostly forest covered with lumps of granite in between. We were in search of some climbing and went to the Luwawa Forest Reserve campsite to find out where they went climbing with their guests. They gave us directions to a granite lump, not hugely exciting but fairly entertaining. We set up a top rope but had to do a bit of moss removal to get at the rock.
After that we headed to Lilongwe to sort out our visas for Zambia. We also wanted to have a look at Nelly’s engine and get some washing done. We stayed at Kiboko Camp where we met Pim, the owner who has three 101’s. He uses 2 of them for safari's and the other one is used for spare parts. He had an old gearbox lying around with a power take off on it. Chris couldn’t resist, Pim had no use for it. Not sure that we do at the moment but we may do soon.
After a few days in Lilongwe we felt we should see the Lake before we left so went eastwards to Senga Bay where we camped within earshot of the lake. We had a pleasant swim and boulder on the granite lumps at the edge before retiring for a warm nights sleep.
The next day was my Birthday and I woke to a bright and sunny day on the lake shore. We went in search of coolness and decided on Dedza Mountain but not before we had a sail on the lake. The campsite had a catamaran and we pottered around the lake which was very pleasant but it wasn’t windy enough for any adrenalin to flow. The road up to Dedza from the lake is being rebuilt and they are half way through a two year contract, judging by the appearance of the road they are making good progress, still no tarmac but some fancy bridges. At Dedza mountain we found a track that went all the way up to the radio masts and then further on.

 

 
Photo 2059 Nelly on the track up the mountain
 
We camped just off the ridge and watched an amazing sunset, a great end to an enjoyable birthday. The view west extended across the valley with numerous granite ridges and mountains sticking up above the flat plains which disappeared into grey lines as the sun set. A chilly night but nothing the duvet couldn’t handle.
Photo 2077 View from Dedza Mountain
The next morning we woke to mist. We had all these plans of climbing but we couldn’t see much, let alone the crag. The cloud occasionally lifted to give some amazing views of the valley.
Photo 2108 cloud down in the valley  

We drove back down the mountain and then down to Senga Bay. The wind had really picked up but it was now too windy for the campsite’s boat and they wouldn’t let us go out in it. Their reason was that the boat would break and having been out in it, we believed them.
We headed back to Lilongwe and went to call on Pim again. We wanted to ask about the winch fairleads and pulleys, did he still need them? He had some which he was more than happy for us to take, cleared out his yard a bit more. They needed a bit of cleaning to get them moving but they came off the chassis really easily. And so ended our time in Malawi. We have definitely got value for money from out Ethiopian yellow card as we have been asked for it at numerous police check points
 

 

 
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