Bookmark and Share

By Boat to the Mvuu Camp Lodge

Along the Shire River to Mvuu, Malawi 16 January 1996
Our sixth day in Malawi. This page follows on from A Trip to the Liwonde National Park. We start from the hotel at Liwonde and go up river to the Mvuu Camp, arriving in time for lunch. After dark we are taken out in a truck to look for wildlife.
At the Kudya Discovery Lodge Hotel we get up and breakfast on cornflakes, toast and jam plus fruit salad. No shower this morning, the shower now has no water at all, hot or cold. The bread tastes fatty and doughey, just about edible, and the fruit salad very strange, all the fruits squidgy in a watery liquid. Coffee came eventually but as the waiter explained with apologies, they only have one teapot and someone else was using it. No coffee pots, coffee is served in the teapot which seemed to have a rather severe blockage in the spout – we didn’t investigate.
While we sat in the lobby a man walked through with a laptop computer – most incongruous for Malawi – and this led us to discover that the hotel was hosting a training course for science in primary education – important-looking African chaps in shirts, slacks and sandals, some in new trainers, a motley assortment. We wondered what would happen at coffee time.
Then down to the river to board the expensive river boat to Mvuu Camp. A boat all to ourselves except for our Malawian boatman guide. We sit on crumbling wooden armchairs on the flat deck of a double-canoe catamaran.
The boatman points out all the birds and animals on the way. There is a surprising amount of hippo in the river. The boatman sees them and steers clear. From time to time the outboard motor runs out of petrol, so the boatman disconnects the feed hose and plugs in one from a different jerrycan.
There seem to be a lot of crocodiles too, again a surprising number. The boatman, who looks to be about eighteen-years-old, appears to be very knowledgeable about all the birds and is obviously reasonably well educated.
The boat ride takes about three hours. The weather is cloudy and threatening rain, and windy. We discover later in the day that our faces and legs have become quite sunburned, even though we were under the shade of the boat canopy all the way.
We paid the boatman a vast load of kwatchas and disembarked, arriving at Mvuu Camp in time for lunch. There we meet two Aussies who were in our hotel last night. We had thought they were South Africans because they looked so stroppy and miserable in the hotel, but no, now they’re here they are smiling, garrulous Aussies. They got to the camp before us because they came up by road. They enquired about a boat but were told that, since they were the only people travelling the boatman could only take them half way and them bring them back, so they paid someone to bring them up in a jeep. Possibly this was a cost thing. Both we and they had seen elephants on the way up here.
These boys aren’t too ragged, perhaps they’re just practising.
Coming up by boat we had had the opportunity to watch ragged-looking fishermen in dugout canoes, casting their circular, weighted nets into the river. We were told that, from where they were fishing, they would only find mud-chambo, which was not a good fish to eat. We later discover that these people were relocated from the area that is now the national park in the 1970s and are forbidden from taking fish from within the park now. A modern-day clearances, but instead of for sheep, for tourists and wildlife conservationists. The river in the park holds good chambo.
We eat a well-presented buffet lunch of the type we did at Oakdene, with salads and ham and cheese, and are shown to our tent.
In the evening, before dinner, we are all taken for a drive in a converted truck to look for wildlife. This lasts until after dark. We see genet and spotted eagle owl, elephant and hippo, bush hare and impala, by the light of a searchlamp on the truck, operated by a Malawian named Fred. Under a big, wide, starry African sky. Our travelling companions are a VSO girl from England and three smoking surly South Africans.
Then back to the camp for dinner in the darknesss outside at a communal table round the camp fire. I am reminded of the Spitting Image song, ‘I’ve never met a nice South African, and that’s not bloody surprising mun, for we are a lot of ignorant bastards with no sense of humour’ See the YouTube video, if it’s still there – the song can evoke some vitriolic complaints.
Back to the tent to find a gecko on the wall near Hilary’s pillow. Swap beds.
The story continues with At the Wildlife Camp.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails