We have finally made it to Kande Beach on Lake Malawi and I couldn’t be happier. The Kande Beach Resort is right on the lake and it’s going to be a relaxing place to spend a couple of nights.
The journey here was, luckily, a lot smoother than yesterday’s border crossing.
Waking up at Chitimba Camp
After the extremely long travel day yesterday I really needed to sleep well last night, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.
As it is the middle of the dry season most of us hadn’t bothered to put the tent’s rain cover on – in fact, our crew had told us that it wouldn’t be necessary and that leaving it off would help to ventilate the tent. However, a storm that didn’t show up on weather apps appeared out of nowhere last night and dumped some extremely heavy rain on us. The tent is heavy duty and, even without the additional rain cover, it can keep our most rains but last night’s rain was just too heavy and the tent was unable to cope.
The amount of rain that leaked in wasn’t too much, it was mainly just drips, but I had to be careful as my camera and other electronics were in the tent. I also had to be careful to position the mat and sleeping bag away from the leaks so that I didn’t get wet or cold in the night. This was possible, but difficult, and I had to move a few times during the night. I grew increasingly jealous of the other overland group, who had taken all of the rooms in the camp, as the night progressed.
The rain stopped just before sunrise and so I got up as soon as it was light enough to explore the camp. We had some brief glimpses of the lake yesterday as it was getting dark but, as the lake is one of the reasons that I wanted to do this trip, I wanted to get a better view as soon as possible.
Luckily, Chitimba Camp is very close to the shore of the Lake Malawi so I went straight down to the beach to take a look.
It was stilly a bit grey and gloomy, and there were a lot of clouds around, but the view was still great with a nice beach being flanked by steep mountains that descended directly into the lake. I spent some time here just admiring the view and taking photos, before people arrived trying to sell things to me.
I bought a few small souvenirs but am trying to avoid buying too much on this trip so I soon went back to camp to avoid buying too much, and to start packing down my tent ready for our 8am breakfast.
Onwards to the city of Mzuzu
After breakfast we left camp and started making the journey towards through Malawi.
Our first stop of the day was supposed to be at a viewpoint overlooking the lake however, due to the weather, that wasn’t possible and we proceeded directly to Mzuzu – the 3rd city of Malawi. Here we would do some shopping before two days at a remote camp on the shore of Lake Malawi.
Shopping in Mzuzu
When we arrived at Mzuzu our first port of call was the local market where we were divided into two groups. Each group was given 4000 Kwacha, which is approximately USD 4, along with a list of fresh fruit and vegetables that we needed to find.
Our group was tasked with finding beans, pineapple, carrots, courgettes, and lemon. In most countries it would be impossible to buy even one of those for USD 4 – at least in the quantities that we needed – but Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world so the money went a long way and we were even had some money left over despite pineapple only being available at one stall, meaning it was difficult to barter on the price.
The phrases from yesterday’s language challenge came in useful at the market although there was a lot of laughter after our group mispronounced some of the greetings.
After visiting the market there was time to visit a local supermarket where we all stocked up on snacks, and where I bought some super glue to try to fix my sunglasses which were damaged a few days ago.
The supermarket was medium sized by European standards but it had everything we needed and was contained in a complex with smaller shops, banks, toilets and cafes. There were also people in the grounds selling crafts and traditional souvenirs – I picked up a couple of canvas paintings while waiting for the others to finish shopping.
The journey to Kande Beach
Before long we were back on the truck and making our way back towards Lake Malawi, and heading towards our next stop which was Kande Beach Resort. Due to the rains last night I was determined to get an upgrade tonight and so Mambo, our tour leader, called ahead to make sure that a few rooms would be kept for those who wanted them.
A few hours later, after passing through some areas with amazing scenery, we reached the town of Kande. The journey from town to the beach was down a long, and narrow, sandy track which was only just wide enough for the truck to pass. We passed by lots of small houses, with the usual sight of kids waving at us, before arriving at the entrance to the compound containing Kande Beach Resort.
An afternoon at Kande Beach
In previous years, before COVID-19, Kande Beach was known as a party town and would regularly have several overland trucks arrive every day. However, luckily for us, we were the only group staying for the next two nights and so we had the place to ourselves.
For those of us wanting to upgrade this was ideal and so we could pick whatever rooms we wanted. Four of us wanted to upgrade – one chose a room with a private bathroom and the rest of us opted for beachfront chalets.
The chalets have no facilities – we need to use a shared toilet and shower block – but the views are incredible. They are located right on the edges of the beach, and each have a small private terrace which overlooked the lake. This is perfect for me, and at only USD 20 per night extra there was no way that I would say no!
It was only 3pm when we arrived so there was still a long time before dinner. There wasn’t enough time to explore the town, although we were told that there would be opportunities for that tomorrow, so while the others were setting up their tents I grabbed some drinks from the bar and sat overlooking the lake just enjoying the view.
I also bought another canvas painting from somebody who lived in the local village – his name was “Cheese on Toast” – but this one was going to be made specially for me and would be a map of Africa outlining the countries that I had visited on the continent.
The view from my room is incredible, and I’m so glad that I was able to upgrade even if the weather is still bad. It’s not raining anymore but the winds are still strong so there are some big waves on the lake. This could make snorkelling, which I have been hoping to do, a bit difficult but we will see what the conditions are like tomorrow.
The local community
All of the excursions that Intrepid offer at Kande, including the snorkelling, are run by people from the local village as a way of giving back to the local community. Another thing that they do to give back is hire a few people from the village to help with the cooking and washing up during our time at the camp. The money earnt by them will go straight into the village to help maintain and upgrade its shared facilities.
The people in Malawi are extremely poor – some of the poorest in the world, in fact – but they are extremely welcoming and really nice people to talk to. This is why the country is known as the warm heart of Africa, and it’s great that our trip is able to give back to the local community.
There is a power shortage in the area at the moment and so the camp is run on generators, which are turned off at 9pm. This means there is just enough time for a couple of drinks in the bar before heading back to my room to call it a night.
The sound of the lake from the bar is still very loud so the waves must still be big even though we can’t see them, which means our planned snorkelling trip probably won’t be able to happen tomorrow which is a shame, but there are still lots of things to do in the area including relaxing on the beach or taking part in a village walk.
We will see where the mood takes us in the morning.