Liwonde town is the tenth largest settlement in Malawi. Named after a Yao chief, this place wins the award for the biggest dump in the country so far. Thankfully, there’s no need to stay here very long, it’s only the jumping off point for Liwonde National Park.
Liwonde is considered one of the best birdwatching destinations in Malawi. It’s said that over 250 species were spotted in two days on an ornithological tour. The beautiful Lilian’s Lovebird and the Bateleur bird of prey were my highlights. These are rare sightings, but there’s also the common as muck Weaver. The Weaver is practically part of Africa’s furniture, the name of this species derives from the way the male carefully constructs and ‘weaves’ its nest.
An afternoon boat ride down the Shire river is a special experience. This is when the herds of Liwonde elephants come for their afternoon cool down. There is also hundreds of hippos, dozen of crocodiles , plenty water birds and one very rare species I like to call ‘the Southern toss pot’. The Southern toss pot is a middle class man, who most likely attended boarding school in the Home Counties, who desperately tries his hardest to be funny.
A very different Malawi is Cape Mclear, the original resort town. This is where the hippies of yesteryear used to flock to party and get stoned without a care in the world. It still holds its local and shanty feel and after ten days of consecutive camping, I decided to splash out on one of Cape Mclear’s finest lodgings.
David Livingstone named the cape after his good mate Sir Thomas Maclear, although the fishing village is still known by the locals as Chembe. You’re guaranteed a good sunset here, you’re also guaranteed a good night out if you hit one of the local clubs. As the name suggests, Uncle Charlie’s booze den will not let you down, especially when you hit it with one of the local chefs named Cheeseburger. There’s a children’s beach band that go around and play for tips, I flicked the tin.
It’s a good idea to take a snorkelling trip to Thumbi island to get away from the bilharzia infested water over on the shore. Lake Malawi is one of the Great Lakes of Africa and contains over a thousand different species of fish, many of which belong to the cichlid group, a brightly coloured species of fish which cares for its offspring.
We’ve decided to skip the Mulanje district of Malawi where a witchcraft rumour has spiralled out of control. The locals believe that anyone who is a stranger to the area is really a ‘bloodsucker’ from Mozambique disguised as a human. They’re convinced the ‘vampires’ are using special powers to draw blood from their victims to use in special rituals. All of this seems to have started by a woman that complained of a headache. Up to now, half a dozen outsiders have been bludgeoned to death and two Europeans remain in hospital. The government have issued a severe warning not to travel there and all the volunteers in the area have been displaced. As much as I enjoy travelling the world and doing new things, I wouldn’t say that ‘being chased by an angry Malawian mob wielding hoes and pangas’ is top of my bucket list.