After a nice cool morning hike on the Zomba Plateau we are ready to head for the markets and Liwonde. But first, “special chicken” and “special fish” at Tasty Bites. “Sir, what's the difference between the special chicken and the chicken?” The waiter looks up, thinking.... “Nothing”, he says. “So it's just more expensive”. “Yes”, he replies. And so it goes. The food comes out in Africa time, and I wait even longer. Nonetheless, we enjoy a restaurant meal and even get some chocolate cake :) Off to shop at Zomba market, the nicest market I've seen in Africa so far. There are only the vendors selling you things – no touts or “friends” following you, and at times you have to wake a vendor up to check out their wares. So laid back and wonderful. The fabrics and wood pieces were incredible, fish and fresh produce were laid out beautifully, and we also picked up some fresh spices for the campfire kitchen. I left impressed and a few kwacha lighter.
Liwonde National Park was impressive from the start. We arrived at sunset and Mvu Lodge overlooked the Shire River, so hippos and crocs were the stars of the show. Clean campsite, pool (yay!), riverside bar, and friendly staff. Each night we were visited by migrating elephants in our camp and each day we had great game drives through the park on top of the Land Rover. Beautiful birds, impala, warthogs, bushbok, waterbok (highest concentration in the world), hippo (2nd largest concentration in the world), 74 mammal species, 460 bird species, and over 1,125 plant species – not too shabby. Baobabs also thrive in the park, and we found a giant baobab at which Livingstone camped, & has been a prison, a slave trading center and a post office. Today it is a ferry point. At more than 2,000 years old it has seen staggering change but there it stands, beautiful and proud.
Turns out Malawi was a muse for Tolkein; the Ents came from the baobabs, the Hobbits came from the Shire River, Lake Molombe (means baobab) was a crossing point. Fantasy geeks unite! Baobabs are pretty incredible too. Each meter of growth represents 100 years on the planet – and in Malawi we saw one that is 3,800 years old. Its seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee, and the fruit is rich in omega 3 and vitamin c (make juice or jam). The bark is used to make ropes, material, or paper. And since they grow to be hollow, you can also call it home. Perhaps that's where I'll end up next. It was tough to leave the wildlife, friendly staff, and refreshing pool of Mvu and Liwonde, but Lake Malawi was up next...
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Combining a passion for travel, the desire to make a difference & a love of maps, MaggieMaps was born.
Unless otherwise noted, all prose, poetry, maps and photography posted on this blog are Copyright 2013 Maggie Maps
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