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Malawi

27 January, 2004

Thought I’d post a few pictures of Malawi, I finally managed to scan in a few and actual get around to doing this! Just before I’m off again (Tomorrow actually!). I know a few people asked me about it, but I couldnt really explain it all as I didnt know where to begin, anyway here is a bit about it. – I apologise in advance I have gone on and on and on.

Bit of background first – I was working for a safari company in Nyika National Park and Vwaza marsh game reserve, in Malawi (Thats Africa btw) for 3 1/2 months, I got back mid November. Some pic of the places –


Nyika National park


Vwaza Marsh

Nyika as you can see isnt anything like the classic Africa as you can see, Its actually more like Britian! When I got there it was actually colder there than it was in the UK when I left. Locals were hunched up around fires, and I had only brought 1 thick jumper as i thought Africa was supposed to be warm! It was on a plateau and pretty high up (2300 metres I think) which explains it and it was about 4-5 hours from the nearest town.Vwaza marsh was more of your classic Africa, Lion, Elephant etc and v v hot, it got up to 40 degrees when I was there.

Basically my job for the time I was there was pretty much odd job man, I went on night drives spotting for animals with a large torch with your head sticking out the top of the truck (bloody freezing), talking bull about the nocturnal animals and seeing Leopard – amazing, welcoming the guests, eating dinner/lunch with them sometimes, day game drives, shopping trips (12 hour trips!), fixing various things, fixing huts etc etc. At Nyika there were only 5 other Muzungu’s (white people!), me The two bosses, The pilot and, another girl on placement looking after the horses. So as you could imagine it was pretty isolated from life. And Vwaza I was the only Muzungu there, that was great fun tho cos you got to really know the locals, learn Tumbuka and drink sometimes – they like to drink

I also did horse safaris where we had to put up a whole luxury camp (you can see it in the nyika pic – the first one) ready for guests, it inluded 4-6 large tents with beds, toliet, hot shower, first class food, dining room and a kitchen. If clients wanted say a 8 day horse safari we would put up the camp, after two days take it down and put it up the same day in a different location, you had to bomb it in the pickup and truck to the next location and put everything up and get it totally ready before the guests got there!, and do the same until 8 days were up! – Good fun tho.

The Camp was very colonial even for staff, we had a guy looking after us all the time in Nyika (In Vwaza it didnt have this luxury – was more of a bush camp). Abraham (the guy looking after us – such a cool guy) Cooked our food, did laundry, cleaned the house, woke you up in the morning with tea/coffee, lit the fire etc – he did everything needless to say I gave him a fat fat tip when I left. ( He was paid #1500 kwacha per month, roughly 12 pounds which is pretty average) for Malawi. It goes further… while I was there I was called Bwana Chris (Master Chris) by the locals, I was v shocked at first but I guess you get used to it and by the end they were calling be brother chris – far better

Anyway, on my second day there they put me in this truck to get some maize in this trusty land cruiser (brilliant car, amazing in 4×4 – it was my baby for 3 months! – had no hand brake, didnt start much and didnt really have any breaks, but was great!). I had to drive 3 hours off the plateau it was like finally arriving in Africa. Mud huts dusty roads, Acacia trees etc. When I got there (at the graining mill) the reaction from the local children was amazing! They literally stared at me for three hours, every move I made was amazing. It was quite funny driving around, you usually got shout of “Muzungu! Muzungu!” (which means a white person), later on I learnt a few sentence in Tumbuka at called “Muntu back to them ie black person, they were all pretty shocked that I could speak Tumbuka.


some of the kids

Time passed by pretty slowly at first, wasnt much going on – not many guests, I was put on Honey pot lid duty (seriously), I had to cut out hessian lids for the honey! Just when I was thinking wtf am I doing here something exciting happened, a HUGE bush fire broke out near the lodges, (they are a pretty usual occurance – poachers generally set them off) so we had to try and put it out to protect the camp. A group of us went off in a truck and armed with bushes beat out the fire for miles and miles. Those guys are total machines! I felt like such an unfit fat Westerner. Anyway we beat the fires out until 11 at night, it was still burning – went of for mile sand miles and still burned for days, but managed to keep it clear of the camp. – Heres one pic of the fire.

I moved between Nyika and Vwaza sometimes as I had to do some work there ie fixing huts that had been eaten by termites. Well, while I was working in the Vwaza elephants were just an everyday occurance and actually got a bit annoying sometimes (well not really) Quite often we had to stop work, dinner for guests was often 2 or so hours late (the dinning room was in the middle of the bush, just an open sided hut) , you got mock charged a few times as if you got anywhere near them they would be too happy! Actually someone in the village got killed by one when I was there. Sometimes it was impossible to go back to my hut at night due to elephants so had to sleep at the main camp etc etc lots of stopages but, a simply amazing place to work being disturbed by elephants!
Often in the evenings sitting in the dinning room you just watch the view, just like your own wildlife programme watching all the animals pass by the lake, (see the two landscape pics of the elephants) You’d see Kudu, Impala, baboons, elephant, hippos Buffalo, Wildebeast, Hartlebeast, bush pig etc etc! Bloody amazing. So you’d be sitting there and this herd of elephants would just pass by, I mean right by you, just a metre away, eating the seeds on the ground. Pretty scary the first time but It was one of the most incredible things I have experienced, it happened often too, as you woke up outside your hut at night under the full moon. Just incredible.

some ele’s


Obviously there were lots of bugs about, and amazing creatures everywhere – (In the grasshopper picture you can see my thumb just below it as a reference to its size – its one mother of an insect!) Also had to cope with ticks – they like to attach themsleves to the warmest part of your body – ie your scrotum!

Later on the rainy season came and the cloud formations were amazing:

Malawians themselves are exceptionally friendly, and have some strange customs, firstly everytime you see someone you know you have to say
a: “Mauca Uli?” (hello how are you?)
b: “Tauca Macora, Kawi Imwe?”(hello, fine thanks, how are you?)
a: Tauca, Yewo Chomene” (Fine, thanks very much)
b: “Yewo” (thank you!)
And that is even if you had only just seen them a few minutes before – they are very polite people indeed.
Another strange custom is the hand shaking, firstly they have a kind of a ‘homeboy’ Brooklyn hand shake! Also they have no qualms with physical contact man to man – when I first got there I saw two men holding hands walking down the street. Often when you are having a conversation with someone you hold hands with the other person sometimes to the end of the convesation, took a bit of getting used to but I eventually did! Also if you agreed with someone or were laughing you’d often shake hads with the other person – I quite like that!

Anyway after 3 and a bit months there it was time to leave as I wanted to see a bit of Malawi and I hadnt had a day off the whole time I was there (not one!), whilst I went around I think I contracted malaria so had to go home early! It was eventually v nice to get home – I needed some alcohol, TV (virtually none for 3 months – only saw some towards the end), Chocolate, and internet (had 1.4 – 2.8 connection there if you were lucky) and just to relax at home and have some home cooking – One other thing – 3 1/2 months only one girl around When I left it was 45 degrees in Lilongwe and when I arrived in the UK it was freezing and it snowed the next day – cool!


The lake is more of a sea really, tho its unsaltly, very warm but had bilharzia in it!

All in all an amazing place, cant wait to go back again, the most lasting impression of Malawi after 4 weeks is, the Malawians, they are some of the most friendly people in the world.

the loos are amazing too (bumdum tish!)

Anyway sorry to blabble on for so long, just thought I’d post a few piccies and it turned into an essay! Quite enjoyed writting actually brought back loads of memories, I could have easily written and posted loads more pics (I took 8 rolls x40 each) but this is too many as it is! Anyway i’d better get back to packing now.

You can wake up now! – Jesus if you got through that I take my hat off to you.

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