Lakeside in Malawi: What a breath-taking wonder

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Lake Malawi is known for freshwater fish

Christopher Farai Charamba Travelling Toes
The African continent is a wonderful marvel. Unfortunately, many Africans are denied the opportunity to travel and explore this beautiful landmass they inhabit.

Many do not even get the opportunity to see their own countries let alone cross borders. Aside from finances, which is perhaps the biggest barrier to travel for Africans, there are a host of other complications preventing Africans from voyaging beyond their boundaries.

For those who can though, travel to other parts of the continent is critical. When the idea of a vacation comes up the first places one is likely to think of going are in Europe, the Americas or some exotic island. But Africa offers the best of those worlds and more. On the continent one is exposed to a diversity of people, culture, language, music and the best of all, food.

Last year I had the privilege of travelling to Malawi. I had never been to the country which lies to the north-east of Zimbabwe. I travelled to Mangochi in the Southern region of Malawi right on the southern shores of Lake Malawi, some 200km from Blantyre. I was there to attend a Rotary District Conference and had quite a wonderful experience.

My fellow Rotaractors and I travelled to Malawi by bus. The journey takes one up through Mutoko and across the Nyamapanda border and into Mozambique. In Mozambique one gets to see the mighty Zambezi river as it flows towards the Indian Ocean passing through Tete.

The day long trip saw us arrive in Mangochi late in the evening. Along the way we stopped in Moatize at Ekhaya Take Away. The place resembled a typical growth point where vendors of all sorts, food and drink, coaxed travellers into purchasing their ways.

One peculiar device that caught my eyes was a homemade metallic deep fry machine. It looked like a table with a cylindrical depression in the middle where oil was boiling and the goat and other meat was placed to fry.

Due to the fact that I have a sensitive stomach, especially when travelling I was not keen to try the local delicacies especially being so far from our final destination. Something I found quite interesting was the number of people who use bicycles in Malawi. Every other person was riding their own bicycle and they are even used as a means of public transport.

In a world that is trying to “Go Green” I thought this very fascinating and actually quite practical. The only issue is that the cyclists do not wear reflective vests and this can be hazardous particularly at night. In Mangochi we stayed at a lakeside lodge, Boadzulu Holiday Resort. The rooms were quaint and delightful and the lodge offered a decent breakfast to their bed.

Each evening by the bar a few of the locals would come through and entertain us with their music, a fusion of afro-jazz and reggae. The best part about the lodge were the beautiful sunsets and sunrises while overlooking the resplendent Lake Malawi.

The conference I was attending took place at Sunbird Nkopola, a beautiful 4-star lodge also on the shore of Lake Malawi. At Nkopola there are a lot more activities for one to do and it is where we had most of our meals. The beach was a lot sandier than at Boadzulu and it had an island feel to it.

One thing that I am keen on experiencing is beer from different countries. In Malawi, the first local beer I had was Kuche Kuche, brewed by Carlsberg Malawi Brewery Limited. I was quite underwhelmed by this one, it tasted quite bland and so I moved on to Carlsberg Green.

For the duration of my stay, some four days, Carlsberg Green was my go to beer. It was a bit too bitter for my palette but I was still able to acquire the taste for it. When it comes to food one must definitely try the tilapia. Lake Malawi is known for freshwater fish and the chefs at Sunbird Nkopola did not disappoint when it came to serving the fish. It was succulent and with just the right amount of spices.

On one of the days we took a two-hour long boat ride out on to Lake Malawi and what a breath-taking wonder it is. Lake Malawi is five times the size of Lake Kariba and what we saw was a miniscule bit of it. The water was a crystal clear turquoise blue and at the one place we stopped one could see hundreds of fish swimming in their schools.

The guide on the boat also took us to an island where fish eagles have their nest. He threw some dead fish into the water and the eagle in majestic flight swooped down to claim its lunch from the lake. While on the lake one can easily think they were on the sea or ocean as all around until the horizon all you see is water.

It truly is a beautiful formation and all Africans should have the opportunity to see, if only to taste the fish. According to my Malawian friends there’s a music festival dubbed Lake of Stars which takes place every October on the shores of Lake Malawi.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend last year but would definitely encourage those who would like to explore that part of Africa to look it up and venture out to it. Malawi was a fantastic experience and certainly a place I would like to visit again. The people, like most places in Africa where accommodative and engaging and were eager to share their time, experiences and culture.

The country is a recommended destination for individuals who want to see more of this continent or families looking to vacation and relax outside of Zimbabwe.

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