Chembe Eagle's Nest

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malawi  , Southern Region,
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Crossing the Shire river on the way to Monkey Bay made us realize just how much water this river holds.  There are a number of Sluice Gates mounted on the bridge to control the flow.

The bicycle taxi's is the "hit for the day".  They are everywhere. Transporting young and old to where it is they have to go.  The passenger seat of each of these taxi's are as individual as their drivers.  They take great pride in their mode of transport. Just as we wash, polish and accessorize our vehicles, so too these guys. 

Another interesting new thing along the road side is black strips of Tyre.  Yes, you heard right.  They slice up old truck Tyre's into thin strips of different width and lengths.  Eureka!  What a fantastic way to get rid of, or to make use of old Tyre's.  These strips are super strong and is used to tie up and hold together just about anything you can imagine.  

At times along the way one gets a glimpse of the lake.  It is fascinating to see how  the lake sustains the village inhabitants on its banks.  They grow mostly Paw paw, Bananas, Sweet potatoes, Casava, Mangoes, potatoes and mealies. Goats, pig's and chickens seem to be their second source of protein.  Fish taking first place by far.

The road is all tar, wide and makes for an easy drive.  The road, in our opinion, is the best thing in and out of Monkey Bay.  Monkey Bay was a great let down. We left about 20 min after arriving.
Cape Maclear is where we will try to find accommodation. 

Chembe Eagle's Nest is TOPS!! The best in Cape Maclear w.r.t camping.  A private campsite with a private beach, great view, green grass, wash up area and a wonderful bathroom.  Not to mention the cold beers! Lynn runs this establishment and does a great job of it. 

We met Ruis and Veronica here.  Ruis works in Tete (Mozambique) and Veronica comes to visit him once a month. We decided to go snorkeling together the next day.

Flamingo is an official guide appointed by the community.  There are a few of them working in rotation for the various lodges in Cape Maclear. He is our guide for the day.  They support the community by buying all their supplies for every outing with clients,  from them.  He had lots to tell us about the Lake and the area.  
Lake Malawi, is an African Great Lake and the southernmost lake in the East African Rift system, located between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The third largest and second deepest lake in Africa, it is also the eighth largest in the world. Area: 29,600 kmēSurface elevation: 500 mLength: 580 kmWidth: 75 kmIslands: Likoma Island, Chizumulu Island

Flamingo picked us up at 9 am.  He would take us to a spot where we could see the famous colorful Malawi cichlids. These little fish are protected and one can go to jail for catching them. They live in water that is very
alkaline (pH 7.5
to around 8.8) yet has relatively soft to medium hard water quality at best. (4-6 dGH
and 6-8 dKH).

We did not actually need to snorkel to see them.  They are everywhere and come to the boat to feed off the algae that grow on its hull.  The water is so clear that one can actually stand on the side and watch them swim around.

Flamingo showed us how to catch a little one (only to release it again).  He kept a small piece of bread in his hand, they rushed to feed on it and so he caught one easily.  We got our gear on and got into the water.  If you stand still on a rock, they start nibbling on your skin (old dead skin cells most probably).

It was amazing to swim with them and be in their environment.  The water is just the right temperature, one can stay in for hours.

Earlier, on our way over, we came across a chap midway to the island fishing with a hand line.  Shame, he had only a couple of tiny fish to show for his work.  When we already passed him he shouted across the water asking for a cigarette.  Our skipper would not go back but said he could come get one later. And so he did.  When we were done snorkeling we hear singing coming to us over the surface of the water.  Soon we could identify the source.  It was that same fisherman singing about the cigarette he was hoping to get.  "I can see my cigarette, Ooooh I can see my cigarette" in the sweetest voice.  We all burst out laughing when we realized who it was coming at us signing as if courting a lover. LOL  needless to say, he got his cigarette.

While we swam with the Cichlids, Flamingo and crew "braai-ed up a storm" on the rocks for lunch.  Right next to "the sign". 

Lunch was great - we had fish, coconut rice, potatoes and tomato and onion sheba.  We all tucked in and forgot to take a picture with our camera. 

This was not the end yet, next he took us around the island where he would lure the Fish Eagles to pick up fish he thru out from the water surface.  Giving us an opportunity to take photos.  We did not know about this extra little bonus and enjoyed the experience immensely.

Back at camp we sat in the bar for the rest of the afternoon chatting away like old friend. Next morning we would part ways as they were going back to Tete and we would be going into Moz.


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