A calm days paddling
Days 6 & 7

A celebration was intended last night due to the crossing of the first 100kms, but we found ourselves falling asleep at the dinner table, like the majority of the nights on our adventure so far. Our days usually start around 5:45am, when the sun peeps over mountains on the Eastern boarders of the lake; the first rays immediately turning our Cape Union Mart tents into a baking oven. The end of the day, 4pm, is usually signaled by the odd grunt of discomfort on the lower back from one of the team members and so we find ourselves drifting to the closest beach, which hopefully isn’t inhabited by hippos, snakes, crocodiles, ants or dragons. Personally, I would far prefer anything to ANTS.

I would like to take you back to day 3, where Matt wrote on the previous blog about a few of the problems we have encountered so far on this magnificent trip. He mentioned a situation with a nest of ants eating through our tent floor. I think I should touch up on that story as he was not present during the attack and doesn’t give the encounter enough justice. As a key witness to the brutality that took place, I swear these attackers were the size of small baby rabbits and had teeth like some insect out of Jurassic Park. Marc and I may have discovered a new type of ant, I’m sure David Attenborough would be proud.

I’m digressing…

Maintaining the kayaks
Day 6 was a surprise for us. I was expecting a sleep-in, but due to the past few days’ sleeping habits, we were all up at sparrows. A day of relaxation and repairs to the crafts followed.

The ‘Mwera’ wind is not uncommon- every Malawian will know about this. It starts to pick up around the end of April and steadily grows stronger and more frequent as winter gets closer. My knowledge on this is limited, but what I do know, I have gathered from the local people. Luckily for us “Miss Mwera”, tends to be a Southerly wind, which means it’s blowing from behind us. Ultimately wind is not a paddler’s best dream, but we are glad to be with it rather than against it. This situation I gather, is different on the East side of the lake.

Calm waters
Local fishermen
Day 7 seems to be dominated by the wind. It has picked up really early and doesn’t seem to be leaving. A decision is made to leave a little late- around 2pm.  Another tough paddle, but through great team spirit and a lot of banter we’ve made it around the corner, clocking up 17km, which wasn’t so bad considering the 6 foot swell from all directions. It’s a Saturday evening. Marc and I are doing some reconnaissance and find a TV with Satellite. A quick agreement with the locals and we’re sitting with a “Green top” beer watching the Bulls give the Lions a ‘clap’ in the Super 15 rugby. (I keep wondering if this normally goes on during expeditions  - does Riaan Manser do this?)

The local pub and grub
Days 8 to 11

Energy build-up may not be noticeable when you are at home doing the normal routines of playing X-box and the odd run, but I can now say that carbo-loading and a high protein intake is essential to take on the water. Well- nourished after our past few days at Pottery Lodge, today was a momentous occasion for us. We clocked up some serious mileage;a whole 35km. A few grumbles and groans about the lower back pain brought us into a small beach lying at the foot of a beautiful cliff-face. On our arrival we are greeted by a Fish eagle, perched up on his stilt, as well as a few of the local people. Once again, ‘Malawi’ smiles on us. We met a kind local man by the name of Andrew who took the trouble to run to the market, a good 3km away, to buy us bread. He also instructed some of the youngsters to assist Caiden  with the fire starting.  Caiden is such an asset to the team with his Bear Grylls knife on hand and he had a fire going in 5 minutes.

Yet again we surprised ourselves the following day when we completed a fine session on the water. The wind was at our backs the whole day and we ended our morning activity at the Stewart’s cottage just past Dwangwa.  We had knocked up a cracker 3 days since Pottery Lodge and had put 85km on the board. A well-deserved break was needed.  Matt had organized the cottage through a bloke he had met in Harare and through the word of mouth, we were very fortunate to stay at this great little place. Now I thought South Africans where good hosts but the kindness and compassion we received from Nicky and Andy Stewart was mind- blowing. We were a bit taken aback at how a family we had never met was so willing to bend over backwards for our cause. This hasn’t been the first time a Malawian family has shown such generosity; the Wynn-Jones’s from Senga bay have also leapt on this band-wagon. 

A hospitable local chief
An awesome day and a half was spent at the Stewarts’. Matt and I decided to take a quick trip into town to replenish the food stocks. According to John (the Stewarts house keeper) this would take 15 minutes, while Sam, Marc and Caiden  guarded the fortress. We have learnt  you can never trust a Malawian (especially a fisherman on a dug-out,) with his perception on distances. Whatever he tells you, multiply that by three and you know you're not even half way. Matt and I spent 4 hours on the “dumpa” bicycles that we had borrowed from John, before we returned home. This is a “no-speed” bicycle, that only Olympians could manage or the common Malawi taxi guy who uses these “wonderful” contraptions as a transport service. They are made of pure lead and have no shocks. This is not how a “luxury” tourist would like to see the country-side, but luckily we are not here to be pampered, although the Stewarts certainly gave us a taste of that.

The next morning we spent the day on the golf course, with Sam in tow and in the afternoon we were given a tour around the Illovo sugar mill. Back at the cottage, in the evening we enjoyed a few beers and a braai with new friends, once again organized by Nicky and Andy. 

Lang's first monster
Day 11 didn’t have much in store for us. The water was flat and we needed to get back on the trek. Not far from us was the Ngala Lodge. Once again, a Malawian by the name of Greg Davies had us fooled on the distance issue- luckily for his sake it wasn’t so drastic. He met us that night for a toot at Ngala, which is a beautiful spot tucked into a reed-bed, with a view from heaven.

Guy Robertson

4/23/2012 02:10:56 pm

Well done boys keep at it one step at a time were proud of you! Paddle safe and keep it tidy!

4/23/2012 03:04:20 pm

Well Done Guys! So proud of you! Looking forward to the next updates... xxx

Dieter Meyer
4/24/2012 11:52:41 am

Well done guys, great to hear you are having a good adventure. Just remember you have all our support from Shalom, Greytown. Always good to read your blog. Be blessed

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