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A Plan At Last

MALAWI | Friday, 16 August 2013 | Views [558]

Shopping bag full of money (each bill is worth $1.50)

Shopping bag full of money (each bill is worth $1.50)

At first glance, getting around Malawi is a logistic nightmare.  A second glance makes the first one seem optimistic, especially if you are interested in seeing the animals and birds of Malawi.  Take Kasungu National Park, for example.  Kasungu town is three-hours from Lilongwe, then it’s 40 km on a dirt road to the park.  Lifupa Conservation Camp is another 21 km of dirt track from the gate.

Yes, we found a way to overcome the obstacles without bankrupting ourselves.  Renting a 4WD vehicle costs $150 a day – or more, so we nixed that idea.  We found a travel agent right in our hostel that put together a 12 day package for us for about $200 a day, including a 4X4 Mitsubishi Pajero and driver.  Much of it is “self-catering,” but we avoid the all-inclusive high-end lodges.


Joey at Porini Adventure Safaris doesn’t accept credit cards.  No one in Malawi does, so we had to scramble to collect enough to pay for at least half of the trip.  One thousand kwacha is about three bucks and we needed almost a million kwacha.  They come in 500 and 1000 notes and you can only withdraw 20,000 at a time.  I lost count of the number of transactions we made using both of our cards but there was so much money we carried it back in a shopping bag.  Really!


Before we could get started we had to stop by our driver’s house in the township so he could collect his things.  While he was saying goodbye to his very pregnant wife, John started kicking a soccer ball with two young boys.  By the time Evans returned there were 28 kids in the ‘game’ and a dozen or so late-comers sprinting in our direction.  Then we got stuck in diplomatic traffic for the SADC meeting and held up by a couple of accidents.  There are no shoulders for the lumbering lorries to pull over so it was well after noon when we left the pavement for the 40km drive to Lifupa where we met Dana, the Dutch goddess who showed us to our rondeval.   John was so smitten he didn’t even flinch when she told us the generator was broken and there would be no hot water, either.  Men!


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