The problem with doing Malawi as part of an African overland tour is that you never spend as much time as you should in the country. We only spent 3 nights in the country, staying only at overland camps on Lake Malawi, without seeing the National Parks or cultural attractions elsewhere in the country. However, the country has been on my bucket list for so long I’m glad to have finally made it.
Saying goodbye to Lake Malawi
This morning we had an early start, with breakfast at 05:30 ready for a 06:30 departure towards the Zambian border. I’m starting to get used to the early mornings now, and on my way to breakfast I was treated to an amazing sunrise over Lake Malawi that was so beautiful I’m going to use it for postcards home.
I wanted to make the most of my time on the lake so ate breakfast quickly and then returned to the shores of the lake to take some more photos. This would be my final time seeing Lake Malawi up close on this trip and I wanted to leave some lasting memories. To help with that, I also took a video showing the grounds of Kande Beach resort before making my way back to the truck ready for the journey ahead.
Travelling from Malawi to Zambia
The journey to the Zambian border took a slow 6 hours across the Malawian countryside. There wasn’t much to note once we left the lake, although we did drive though the Nkotakhota Wildlife Reserve to take a shortcut. We didn’t stop to try to spot any wildlife, although the condition of the roads through the reserve meant that this particular portion of the journey was extra slow.
Crossing from Malawi to Zambia was a lot easier than crossing into Malawi. The whole process, from us arriving at the border to being stamped into Zambia and having our vaccination records checked, didn’t even take an hour which is incredibly fast for an African land border. We had to wait a bit longer for the truck to clear customs, however, but after another hour or so we were on our way towards tonight’s stop at the South Luangwa National Park.
Breaking the journey in Chipata
We broke up the journey with an hour or so in the town of Chipata, which is the administrative centre of this region, where we spent an hour stocking up on supplies, changing money, and having lunch while the truck was refuelled. Some people also used the stop to pick up Zambian sim cards for their phones but I spent the time walking around and soaking up the atmosphere before sampling one of the best milkshakes I have ever had at a place called Creamy Heaven.
The journey from Chipata to our camp at the South Luangwa National Park took roughly 90 minutes, and it treated us to our first sights of the Zambian scenery. We also drove right past a controlled fire – a sight that is very common in this part of the world.
Setting up camp at Croc Valley
Tonight we are staying at Croc Valley Camp which is adjacent to the Luangwa river and only a few minutes from the National Park. We set up camp in the grounds before exploring the site – including checking out the great bar that they have here. We also paid for our night game drives which are an optional extra but that come highly recommended.
Something that is a little scary tonight is the sound of Hippo which we can tell are very close. In fact, while setting up camp, we were advised to keep our tents spaced out and to make sure we scanned the camp site using a torch if we needed to use the bathroom in the night since Hippo regularly walk through the campsite. We were also told not to camp next to any trees since Elephants have been known to walk through the campsite and they like to use the trees to scratch themselves!
We’re definitely in the real Africa now, if there was ever any doubt.
It’s an early night tonight as we need to get up early tomorrow ready for our morning game drive. I can still hear the sounds of Hippo close by – hopefully they don’t keep me awake too much!