Week 43 – Kande Beach, Malawi

We started this week in Dar es Salam and we had a really early start leaving at 4:30 am. We did this to avoid the traffic and also because this was going to be the longest drive of the entire trip. It was definitely the longest drive and I think we could all feel it. I tried to watch a couple of movies and then slept for awhile because I hadn’t gotten much sleep in Zanzibar. The cool part about this drive was that we went down baobab alley where there were many baobab trees on both sides. If you think of the quintessential african tree it would be a baobab tree and we hadn’t seen many yet. We arrived in Iringa around 7:30 and ate dinner at the hostel that they had prepared for us. I was really happy we didn’t have to cook. We even go hot chocolate and brownies for dessert! It was a great treat after a really long drive day.

Baobab Alley

The following morning, we had another early start and left at 6:30. Again, it was a long drive day and this day almost felt longer than the first. I think it was because it was the second long day in a row. We played cards and I blogged and read for the day. I think the drive took us much longer than was anticipated because we didn’t get to the border until 5pm. Then, it was a really slow border crossing into Malawi. We were there for 2 hours! We got back on the truck when it was already dark and continued to drive to the campsite. I was nervous because I was on cook group for the night and we were cooking spaghetti bolognese, which would take awhile. Most of us fell asleep after the border crossing and we didn’t arrive in Chitimba until 9:30pm. Most of us didn’t want to eat much so I convinced Derek to let us just do eggs and toast and eat the spaghetti the following day.

Driving day into Namibia

The next morning was a really relaxed morning. It was a beautiful campsite with grass and a beach out then front onto Lake Malawi. We woke up at 7 and a lot of the girls joined in on a workout to get our bodies moving after the long truck days. It felt so good! We showered, ate breakfast, and then went right outside the campsite where there was a wood carving market. Malawi is known for really well made and really cheap wood carvings. They were beautiful!

Driving in Namibia was gorgeous!

At that time I had no local currency so I couldn’t buy anything, but I knew that we would be going to another wood market later in the day. That morning we drove for the morning and stopped at the grocery store of a stop where I pulled some money. The fun part about this is that right outside the grocery store, men come by with trash bags full of the most ridiculous clothes you have ever seen! A lot even had animal tails sewed to the back. I guess an overland tradition is in Malawi to have a “fancy dress” party. We all picked names out of the hat and we had to buy a costume for that person. I got Yasmine and I was really excited to shop for her.

Taking pictures along the drive

After shopping, we continued on to the wood carving market. I wish that we had more time here because everything was so beautiful and wanted to buy the whole market. Prices were also very good because it was low season. I bought a lot of carvings including a game that they called Bao. It was their national game they liked to play. I played a version of it growing up, but we called it mancala.

Our first view of Lake Malawi

FInally, we made it to Kande Beach. I would highly suggest Kande Beach to anyone coming to Malawi. It was a wonderful little paradise. In general, Malawi is an amazing country for travel because it is beautiful, the people are so friendly, and its cheap. Out campsite was also just called Kande Beach and we were about 10 steps from a white sand beach. The lake was clear water and the perfect temperature. Also, the sun had finally popped its head out. So, we finally got our beach vacation that we had missed in Zanzibar. Also, I finally go to make my spaghetti Bolognese and it was delicious!

Kande Beach

The following morning, I woke up and since it was a low key morning, I decided to make apple cinnamon pancakes for everyone. I had wanted to make pancakes from the start, but we always get up so early that we never have time. Most of the group then went out for a village tour. I haven’t been impressed by any village tour so far so I decided to stay back and go for a run instead. Freya came with me and we left the campsite, picked a direction, and started our run. The hard part was that we were running in sand.

Michelle on the paddle board

Right outside of the campsite, we met Roger. He was a local guy and he asked if he could run with us so I said sure. I knew eventually he would try to sell us something, but he did the whole 30 minutes with us and I learned about life in Malawi and his family. It was really interesting and it was fun talking to him. So, when I returned I let him talk me into buying one of his paintings. I paid too much for it, but I don’t really care if the money went to the community. Then, we played a couple of games of Bao with him and his friends.

My outfit for Yasmine at fancy dress

After our run, we came back and went for a swim in the lake. It was amazing water and so refreshing. It wasn’t cold so we could stay in for a long time. Though, we were slightly scared that crocodiles would come and eat us. Then, I did my laundry and hung it out to dry. Later, I went back out to talk to Roger again and collect my painting. It was really well done and it was a map of Africa with the route that we took in the truck. He even made it blue for me! We had an early dinner and then all got ready for our fancy dress party.

My outfit for the fancy dress party

The fancy dress party was absolutely hilarious! First, we all stood up to present our costumes to our person. We described each outfit as though it were a true fashion show. Then, we all quickly went to the bathroom to change into our new outfits. I have never laughed so hard. Everyone looked ridiculous and the descriptions of the outfits were on point. The only problem with mine was that it was super tight and the skirt was so short! We took a lot of photos, listened to music, danced around, and took ridiculous selfies trying to see how many chins we could get. In general, it was a great night.

The whole group in our fancy dress

The following morning, I woke up early and went on a horse riding trip for two hours. They picked us up at the campsite and drove us to the stables. The stables were beautiful and I guess they run them as a bed and breakfast as well.

The stables in Kande Beach

We arrived, signed a release form, and then were paired up with our horses. I was given a super sassy mare named Kwanza. I kind of wish I had a different horse because she was really hard to manage. She hated everyone and everything. Right away she was trying to nip at the trainer and even gave the dog a little bite. I had to be conscious of when her ears went back because that is when she wasn’t happy. I found out along the way she hated dogs, people, bikes, water, and almost everything else.

We rode through the back forests

We tried to canter a couple of times and every time that we did she would try to bite the butts of the other horses. It was really annoying because the only time she was happy was when we were away from everyone else. The ride in general was very beautiful. We rode through the fields and the forest and then through the village. At one point we even crossed through fields covered in water and it was beautiful!

Riding through the fields covered in water

Finally, we ended up riding along the beach and it was a bright sunny day. The water was blue and it was an amazing backdrop. We exited the beach, they took off the saddles, and then we got back onto the horses bareback in our bathing suits. We rode down the beach and rode the horses into the water! It was such a crazy experience to be in the water on a horse. Also, I had never ridden a horse bareback, so that was an unusual experience as well. I loved it!

Riding into the water bareback
Riding into the water!

After horse riding, we came back and everyone was in the water on paddle boards, so we decided to join them.  We had wanted to paddle board out to an island that we saw, but we didn’t have any paddles. Michelle and I tried to fit on one paddle board together and make it out there, but we weren’t too successful and it was hard work. So, we just joined all of the other girls in laying on the boards and sunning. We also tried to stand up on them, which was quite a hilarious activity.

The ladies just chilling out in the sun

After the paddle boarding, I organized my clothes and ate some lunch. Then, the whole group walked into town because we had organized a net ball game with the local girls. For all my readers who don’t know what netball is (my fellow Americans), basically its a mixture of handball and basketball. You throw the ball to each other, but certain positions have to stay in certain parts of the court (like lacrosse). To score, you throw it in a hoop, but it doesn’t have a backboard. This game is popular in the UK, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and surprisingly Malawi.

Michelle and I on our paddle board adventure

We walked about 20 minutes into town and met the local girls at the court. I guess the court was a bit smaller than normal, there were no lines, and the baskets were different heights. Yet, it was still fun. I got to play my very first game! It was hard to follow the rules at the beginning, but its the mixture of lots of different sports, so I picked it up relatively fast. This was a great experience as well because we could get out into the community without it feeling touristy and without people trying to sell us things. It was a lovely day.

The whole net ball squad!

That night, we went to the son of the chief’s house for dinner. The dinner was delicious and it was local food. After dinner, they brought many of the local children by the house to sing and dance for us. They were so funny and they could shake their butts so well! They pulled us up as well to dance with them. In general, it was a really fun night!

My favorite picture in the water with Kwanza

The following day we left Kande beach and drove all day to Petauke. For the next two days we would be crossing though Zambia on our way to Zimbabwe. We didn’t see much of Zambia aside from what passed us by in the truck. So, I am curious about what we have missed. Our border crossing into Zambia was our smoothest yet and they are really well organized. At the campsite, I worked out with a lot of the girls, ate mashed potatoes and chicken for dinner, and headed to bed. The memorable part about this campsite was the beautiful sunset as we arrived and the fact that they had an emu wandering around camp.

Sunset in Petauke

The next day was our second drive day and we drove to Lusaka. Today was airdrop day on the truck where we all finally figured out we could airdrop pictures and share them with the whole truck. So, naturally we took the craziest selfies we could think of and sent them to the whole truck. This day we also stopped at the store to stock up on supplies for the houseboat the following day.

Selfie day on the truck

That night there was another volleyball net so we all played a huge game of volleyball before dinner. We even had some other campers join in who were biking their way across Africa. This was a sad night as well because we had to say goodbye to our driver Angelo. We were changing drivers for the rest of the trip. Our new driver’s name is Mugo and he is from Kenya. I will say though that I definitely miss Angelo!

Next stop, Zimbabwe!

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