Mikoma Lodge

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malawi  , Northern Region,
Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mikoma Lodge – our first stop over in Malawi

As if we did not get enough of it in Tanzania, the border crossing was not without its own
set of frustrations. One is literally hunted down by a dozen or more guys
trying to exchange money.  One guy was tipped off” (by cell) by a friend from a neighboring village, that a Mzsungu (white man) was on his way.  This guy in turn,jumped onto the back of a motorbike and followed us to the border to do business.  No matter how many times you say “NO thank you”, they don’t let up.  A very “in your face” approach they have.

We did not change money, even if only to prove a point. It is far better to draw money from an ATM.

On the Tanzanian side all went smoothly as they basically just had to “stamp” us out of the country.  However, we unfortunately forgot to have the
Carnet stamped.  Too much emphasis on just wanting to get out of there already I suppose. Lucky for us, between the two border buildings there is a stretch of land, about one kilometer long. Once
the car is at the other border, there is no going back.  So, by the time we twigged, the only thing to
do was to walk back with the Carnet in hand (without car) to ask them to please stamp it. Getting it stamped  took a bit of explaining before they obliged.

The next hurdle was less effortless.  Carlos did not have a visa.  The staff was very unfriendly. They insisted we had to get the visa in Dar (the last place we wanted to go back to and about 700 km away). They kept referring to a notice on the wall that clearly states that they will not issue visas at the border.   They ignored us for about 30 min before one lady took pity on us and wrote Carlos a letter granting him temporary entry.  We would have to get to Mzuzu before Monday (5
days max)  as it is the closest town where visas can be obtained. We accepted gratefully.     

This process took another 30 min or so.  When we eventually got the letter – the carnet had to get done and then we needed to take out 3rd party insurance in some little back office on the other
side of the official buildings. All-n-all we spent about 2 hours at the border.  A Congolese chap asked Carlos for a lift to the first town.  He is an engineer, here on business and making use of public transport.  The bus was out of order and thus he needed to make another plan. 

Having Victor with us was a good start to being in Malawi  (he is a regular visitor) as he could give us a good overview of things and even helped us pick the best Malawi rise from a stall next to the road.  The topics of  conversation ranged from politics to food, food production, fiber optic line installment, GPS’s and family to the weather.

We arrived at Mikoma Lodge at about 2pm.  One of the more modern and organized lodges we have been to.  They are however not really geared for camping.  They offered for us to camp in
front of a room and to use its bathroom. This spot, however convenient in terms of the use of the bathroom, would mean being in the sun all day.

Carlos enquired if the beach was a possibility. She confirmed that it was so Carlos
decided that the beach (under some huge trees) would be “the spot” and so
started a 2 hour long saga.  See pic’s.

Once settled, it sure was a fantastic spot! We could even make use of electricity
from the bar area. We spent 3 wonderfully relaxing days here watching the locals at their business, walking on the beach before the saga of getting Lynx out of the sand would start all over again.

 Lake Malawi (in our opinion) still does not compare with Lake Tanganyika but is far better
than Lake Vic. The surrounds is seriously dry. 
Hard to imagine with all the water in the lake. People are poor here and there are hardly any cars on the roads. Most everyone walks – some have bicycles.  At least this area is mostly flat and thus not too hard to get around. 

We were pleasantly surprised by the locals requesting their photo’s to be taken.  Something,
totally unheard of in Tanzania. They are not shy and love engaging you in conversation or should I say gestures. We enjoyed the relaxed attitude of the Malawians

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