We got up fairly early the next morning at Nkhotakota Pottery, packed and headed towards Lilongwe. Pieter wanted to make contact with an old colleague of he’s, and we also wanted to get through the border post in time before the New Year celebrations started in Chipata.
We knew that Mama Rula’s would be packed with Overland vehicles – and the bar and restaurant are favorite with the locals – all we wanted was a quiet and peaceful “old year”… preferably sleeping into the New Year.
I also desperately wanted a wooden Land Rover Defender for my desk at work. Last year, Pieter bought a very big wooden one at Cape Maclear, and later on during our trip, I also wanted one, but we could not find any stalls that made or sold them. Senga bay was about 30km out of our way to Lilongwe, but we knew that we would be able to get some Land Rovers in that vicinity.
The road condition from Nkhotakota Pottery to Senga isn’t in a bad state, but there is fair amounts of trucks on the road that makes it difficult to pass. Some of the single lane bridges take up a lot of time. Seeing that it was the 31st of December, the Malawian army, police and traffic officials were all out on the road and we encountered a large number of road blocks.
In Senga bay I was able to locate two small Land Rovers, and Pieter was even lucky enough to buy a grass made Defender lookalike. Very chuffed with our purchases, we headed for Lilongwe.
There are some very scenic mountain passes you go through before you get to Lilongwe – and these were new to us as our 2015 trip did not include Lilongwe.
We tried getting hold of Pieter’s ex colleague, but later found it they spent the day at the lake and left all mobiles at home (clever people). We ended up ordering some take-away sandwiches from the local Spur – which by the way did not have any ribs, chicken or beef (true story). We kept the food until we reached our destination in Chipata, but ended up throwing it in the trash. . That’s just the thing about take-away places in the rest of Africa; you never know what you will find.
We got to the border post in time, and really went through the whole process in record time and without any hassles. We were now back in Zambia, and you could actually feel the excitement of people getting ready for New Year’s celebrations.
We made a pit stop at the local Spar (Shoprite was closed by then) and also at the local Pharmacy. We made sure we stocked up on Iodine ointment. We also ordered some pizzas at the local Debonair (pretty difficult to mess up a pizza) and we were off to search for “Dean’s Hill View Lodge” that we located on Tracks4Africa as an alternative to Mama Rula’s.
The road up to Dean’s is a bumpy one, and no specific indications are set out anywhere to indicate that you are on the right path. When we eventually arrived at Dean’s, it took some time before someone noticed us. Pieter got out of the Landy, opened the gate and went in search for some assistance.
“Dean” is no longer in the land of the living (passed away a year or so ago), but a new guy and he’s girlfriend has taken over the place and are slowly but surely getting it back into the pristine camping site it once was. Apparently upon Dean’s passing, the camping site and chalets were left as is for at least a year – with no maintenance.
There is a small bar and restaurant on the property and some campsites overlooking the whole of Chipata.
Pieter asked the owner if he was expecting any visitor’s or loud music – at which he assured us he is also in for a quiet night. Hmmm …
The noise of the bar and the restaurant kept going until way past midnight where Pieter and I sat like minions wide eyed listening to the bombs and crackers go off. New Year in Chipata sounds like 3rd world war. When we got up the next morning, Chipata was still going, but Dean’s Hill View had quiet down significantly.
We were tired and irritated. We packed up, stopped at the local Shoprite for fresh bottled water and headed to Bridge Camp where we knew we would get some peace and quiet.