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Fixing the craft - hopefully for the last time
Day 40 has definitely been our worst day yet. We woke up to gale force winds which, on this side of the lake, is a head wind and thus smashes you straight in the face and is extremely difficult to paddle in. We decided to push through it nonetheless just to get moving and managed to survive quite a scary launch through some big surf.
What happened in the next 5 hours could so easily have put an end to our expedition. In short, the double kayak became so waterlogged that it was impossible to keep upright for more than 10 seconds and to make matters worse we were about 4km from shore. Luckily a fisherman in a dugout canoe came to the rescue. I was ordered to hop in with him along with some luggage. The rest of the team had to go straight to shore as the double was literally about to sink. The dugout was heading straight across the bay in the opposite direction. I soon realized, after much debate in broken Swahili, that the dugout would have sunk if he had gone straight to shore because of the big surf. Needless to say my new found paddling friend and I made it to shore in one piece but I was still not sure about the rest of the team.

I later learned that the 2 singles landed in usual fashion but Caiden, along with the double, rolled into shore which we learned is actually croc infested. After emptying the double's luggage into the singles, Caiden paddled the double across the bay, alone. I don’t know how he managed through that wind and swell but he did. Marc and Guy could not launch at this point as their boats were too heavy to get through the large surf. So now, Caiden and I were stuck without the rest of the team and we actually were not aware that they couldn’t get out at that point.

We landed up meeting a fellow South African named Theo who works on the coal-mines in the area, and he helped us out. It was probably a 10km walk along the beach before we found Marc and Guy. We were finally back together. It was a very long day and we were so thankful that everyone was safe.

Now onto the good side of things. The stretch from Matema to a little town called Manda is home to some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life. There are no words to describe what we saw along that stretch. Pictures may do some justice but you would have to see it first hand to have any idea. What I can say is that for that first week we completely lost track of reality. For the first time on this trip I can gladly say that for most part, we were isolated, and it has been the best part of our trip thus far.
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Campsite near Manda
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Secluded beach to ourselves
Before we began our expedition, people asked after the Tanzanian side. They enquired as to whether we knew anything of it; if there were shops, if there were wild animals, if there were any people. So what I thought I would do is write a little about everything on what you can expect when travelling along the first half of the shoreline of Lake Nyasa as it is called in Tanzania.

Scenery: The scenery is very similar to what Caiden described in his previous blog. The mountains are immense and they unfold higher and higher into the sky until their peaks are lost in the clouds. Dense forests cover these steep slopes, and very few are ‘tainted’ with cassava crops which show sign of human life. Around every corner waterfalls appear from unseen sources, and they make their way down through these dense forests, cascading in and out of sight before falling into the lake.
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Exploring one of the many waterfalls
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Guy taking in the scenery
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Dinner at a fishing camp
Population: There are hardly any people along this stretch. For the first time on this trip we could arrive on a beach, whip off our kit and have a ‘rinse off’ in peace. We had plenty nights camping on beaches where we were completely secluded. I must add that most of the beaches we have found are pebbled with hardly any sand, so luckily we have decent mattresses to sleep on. There are the odd fishing camps along the way which can be expected. They, however, only contain at most 15 people but should you wish to bypass, there is sure to be a secluded beach up ahead. The people are very friendly and, unlike the Malawian people, carry on with what they are doing when we Mzungu’s arrive on the beach. There are a few bigger towns along the way where you can buy the basics but we only stopped at them to stock up on food supplies and then were out as quickly as possible.

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Cleaning fish for lunch
Fishing:
We have come to the conclusion that spear- fishing is the way to catch fish in Lake Malawi. Although we have caught a couple of fish with rods, spear fishing has definitely supplied the majority of our meals along this stretch and we have all contributed to the table with some very tasty fish. For those of you who asked and may be interested, the fishing is very good and is worth the trip to come and ‘work the structure’ as the hardened fisherman may say. I think it was by pure fluke that I landed a 3kg Bream whilst trawling with a Rapala a couple of days ago and Guy shot a 2.5kg ‘Ngumbe’ fish whilst diving on some remote beach, so there is definitely sign of some decent size fish around. We have been living off the land as our rice stocks have been diminishing, so luckily the fishing has been good.

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Guy's 2,5kg Ngumbe
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Matt's 3kg Bream
The last couple of days have been very ‘testing’ for the team especially on day 40 so we are extremely grateful to Theo from ‘Tancoal’ for letting us stay at the mining camp. We are currently fixing the boat and I think we may have found the problem so we are aiming at being back on the water as soon as possible where we will carry on towards Likoma Island in Mozambique.
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Matt overseeing the cooking
 


Comments

Shannon
05/19/2012 09:06

WOW guys - whew so glad u safe!!!!!!! Great to hear about your adventures. Take care xx

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05/19/2012 14:29

Hey okes, this is such an awesome adventure! I have just read most of your blog in one sitting and will definitely keep up with it! I was on a similar (ish) expedition on the Amazon a while ago and I miss that vibe reading your blog. Enjoy it man! Good luck!

Jase

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Jacky
05/20/2012 02:06

Great to hear that you are all safe. Be careful as you go on the rest of the journey especially the hippos. The pictures are fantastic. I only went to the southern part but Bobby when she was at school visited some of her school friends who lived in the northern area

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annelie
05/20/2012 12:16

Hey hey hey! WOW...so glad you're all ok :-) Amazing stories and photos...we think of you guys often and keep you in our prayers...lots of love from all xx

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Lesley
05/20/2012 14:18

Hi there Squealy and your fellow adventurers! You are doing such an awesome job! Well done! I am truely impressed. You are in my thoughts often. Be careful of the mother nature! You just have to respect her 'big time' even when you do feel impatient and want to push on. We want to have you home to tell the stories!!! All is going well here...just been rather chilly...I think the frost is around the corner! Keep well! I shall continue to keep checking in to your blog and follow what you are up to! Chatted to your mom today and she gave me the web address...lucky for that hey Squealy! Lots of love William, Lesley, Stuart, Robyn and Claire

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carole and jim
05/22/2012 03:39

We are SO glad to hear from you, What a time you have had, and what a close call. Thrilled you are all OK. Congrats and keep paddling. We are so impressed and proud to know you.

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alex & olivia
05/23/2012 11:24

Joel and Tim are on the Otter Trail. Olivia and I have been looking at the photos and reading about your Day 40. We loved the list you made Caiden. Hope the last bit of this adventure goes well for all of you. We will be tracking you! Love from us.

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The Richardsons
05/24/2012 06:27

Hey Guys
So good to catch up! You are all constantly in our thoughts and prayers! Keep up the good work....God Bless
Steve

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Dyl Loser
05/25/2012 01:33

I am currently sitting in class covertly reading your blog. Well done chaps you are really displaying some College mSataana!!!

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Keegan Bizaare
05/27/2012 03:17

Showing some mean CAAAALLLEEEGGG Vooomaaaa. love from the high seas!!!!

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Kim
05/29/2012 21:56

The team have asked me to put a post on the blog to update everyone. They have just had a few days break on the Likoma islands survivng on spearing fish and recieving a parcel of rice and spice from the ferry which they had sent over from the malawian side.They are probably heading into the wildest stretch yet of 185 kays to a village called Maponda with no comms except via satphone. Tonight though they overnight at Nkwichi lodge which is rated as one of the top lodges in the world! They happened to meet the manager who invited them to stay before they head off into the wilderness. Then a further 155 kays to the extreme south of the lake where they meet up with all the families and turn north for the last 175 kays to finish. hopefully us ballies can keep up with them!

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rolz
06/02/2012 02:32

Keep it up boys. Sounds epic!

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