We got up very early on Saturday morning to make sure we got some last sunrise pictures for our collection. We set up the “Go Pro” and waited for the sun to rise. We could hear the hippos in the water, but because of dense mist, we could not really see them. At some point we did see our resident pelican come drifting down the dam to annoy the hippos. For the last three days, this pelican had been our comedy central. He drifts up to the hippos, frightens the living daylights out of them, and then very calmly makes he’s way back upstream.
We packed up camp and with a heavy heart went up to the lodge to say our goodbyes.
Isaack and Pushke were awaiting us. They were very concerned and wanted to know if we would return one day. Pushke put he’s order in for a “small camera” as nobody believes him when he says that he saw wildlife during he’s outings. Isaac wanted to know if he could have a small second hand laptop … only if we return … one day. I’m going back to South Africa, and I’m going to do my utmost best to get these guys what they are wishing for …
We got on the road and headed for Kasungu town where Pieter wanted to exchange some dollars. It was the 24th of December … heaven knows what we were thinking. The queue to the bank was already heading out into the streets. There was no way that we would be exchanging money!
The road from Kasungu to Makuzi beach would take us through some scenic routes and beautiful mountain passes. Last time round we saw some locals along the road selling huge mushrooms – and back in South Africa we researched if these were eatable. They were indeed, so this time round, we were determined to buy some.
Not long before we started encountering these mushroom sellers, but Pieter wanted a really big one. After some time, really high up in the mountains, we got to buy one from a local guy. It was huge … really big. We took photos of him holding the mushroom, and some of me holding it as well. The stem of the mushroom was as big as a small child’s arm.
When we eventually got back into the Landy, we only then realised that it had a really bad odor to it … like in REALLY bad. But again, we were determined to cut this up and fry it with onions and make a real Malawi meal of it.
The route also took us through various rubber tree plantations. Last year (2015) we were amazed to see the locals make rubber balls (as big as soccer balls) from these trees and actually throw them back and forth to show how high they bounce up in the air. And of course, this time round, I wanted one to take home and show the family. So we stopped. And we negotiated a price. And we bought one as big as a tennis ball.
Back in the Landy the foul smell doubled up as the rubber ball had a really bad odor to it as well.
The only really “big” town on our way was Mzuzu – at which we had to stop to stock up on some much needed groceries. And again, what were we thinking? It was the 24th of December – EVERYONE in town was in Shoprite to get their last stuff for Christmas. Pieter and I stood in line for fresh bread for over half an hour.
When we got back to the Landy, it was already late afternoon and we could not wait to get to Makuzi beach.
Last year the road from Mzuzu to Makuzi was already in a bad state, but this year round it was really terrible. Malawi has appointed a contractor to work on the roads, but the rains have made it almost impossible to drive on them. It took us almost 2 hours longer to get to Makuzi than it should have.
We arrived at Makuzi late afternoon and were greeted by Brett (the co-owner). He said that they had been waiting for us and almost gave up on us arriving in time. Lara (he’s wife and other owner) held our specific camping spot for us (as she had promised) and I also got to see the highlight of Makuzi again – Jet the boxer. Of course he did not remember me, but I was delighted and so happy to see that he had grown into a beautiful dog.
We quickly set up camp and Brett came round asking if we wanted to join the rest for the traditional Christmas lunch the next day. We agreed and he handed us the menu. I also got to give Lara all the presents I bought for her and the family – and of course, Jet and Holly (the old Jack Russell) got their cookies and gifts as well. It felt like family that we were seeing again …
We set up camp and our neighbors from Blantyre and Cape Town came to introduce themselves as well. Ben (a six year old boy) made friends with me, and even came to show me on Christmas day what he got in he’s Christmas sock. Life was good.
Makuzi still did not disappoint. The beach and lake were still one of the best in Malawi.
We went to bed fairly early … our holiday had “officially” started. We were in Malawi at Makuzi.
On Christmas day, we got up at 5:00 to the most beautiful sunset ever. Pieter and I went down to the beach and sat on the rocks and watched in awe as the sun rose. We took plenty of pictures that will for sure get framed when we get home.
We spent most of the morning swimming in the lake where I dived in and “saved” a KWA1000 that Ben had spotted in one of the deeper areas.
I had bought tanning oil last year 2015 that was Cansa approved, but also water resistant. I sprayed some on Pieter and myself, and off we went. After an hour or so in the water, I began to itch all over – At some point, I wondered if it was something in the water. I kept quiet, but a few minutes later Pieter also complained that he was itching all over.
We made our way back to the beach, and back at the tent, rinsed ourselves to relief the itching – to no avail. It became excruciating and the itching got worse. I grabbed my toiletry bag and headed for the showers – hoping it will give me some relief. Pieter did the same. This did not help much. Only after about 4 hours, the itching subsided and it got better. It was definitely not something in the lake, but more the suntan oil that we had put it on. We got back into the water later that afternoon – still amazes us as to how warm the water is at any time of the day. Christmas lunch was to be served at 14:30.
The menu included:
Basil and tomato soup with fresh baked bread
Chambo and Kampango pickled fish with tartar sauce
Turkey, chicken, gammon, pork sausages, turkey stuffing, rice and a huge variety of vegetables.
Lunch was served on the terrace overlooking the lake. Ironically, my Christmas cracker had a piece of paper in it that said “where is the most favourite place on earth you want to be right now”?
Dessert was mousse and traditional Christmas pudding served with homemade custard.
Our neighbours afterwards went for a swim again, but Pieter and I opted for lounging in front of our tent. Jet joined us at some point, and not long after all three of us were fast asleep.
We woke on our third morning to a sunrise accompanied by some serious looking clouds. In the distance we could see water shoots forming on the lake – something Pieter and I had not seen before. The sun soon made way for rainy clouds and the wind suddenly picked up. We packed up the camera equipment and headed back to the tent – just in time. Within minutes, it started gushing down – almost the equivalent to a mini hurricane. Our neighbours in front of us suffered some serious tent and gazebo damage, and from the inside of our tent on top of the Landy, we could see and feel the wind.
Suddenly we heard a loud bang, and when we looked out, one of our awning tent poles broke collapsing the whole structure. By that stage, the wind had subsided a bit and the rain had stopped. Pieter and I got out of the tent to assess the damage. One side pole had completely broken in two from the water weight on top of the awning as well as the severe wind.
Pieter managed to make a plan and duct taped some of the pole together, and not long after, the awning was standing again. Our neighbours however had more serious damage to deal with. They packed up and headed to a resort that recently opened up right next to Makuzi called Sunga Moyo. It is managed by a South African man and he’s German wife. Pieter thinks that Sunga Moyo is going to give Makuzi some serious competition – and I think he might be onto something.
We spent our last day in the lake – getting some serious sun as well as spending some time with Jet. He got into the lake with me twice, and I also got to play with him with the frizzbee that I had bought him. I was seriously dreading the next day where we had to say goodbye to this absolutely gorgeous beast of a mad dog.
Makuzi caters mostly for chalet bookings and sadly enough neglects the campers when it comes to their ablutions. Not much is done to maintain these, and the decay can be seen everywhere. We have seen this all through Malawi – and actually the rest of Africa. Campers are seriously neglected when it comes to ablutions. Although the ablutions at Makuzi are not bad – they are not on par compared to what the chalet ablutions look like. I know that we as campers pay way less than chalet occupants, but again, we also contribute to spreading the word and advising people to visit these places. Surely we have a right to more upgraded ablutions?
We made an early night of our last day, but not before we saw our Defender friends that we met in Livingstone again. They arrived just before nightfall at Makuzi – very tired and worn out. With the mini hurricane that hit us, they saw the aftermath of this on the Mzuzu Makuzi road. It took them much longer to get to Makuzi than anticipated. Riaan and Annalien were going to camp on our spot when we left the next day.
We said goodbye to Makuzi with heavy hearts – and I cried like a baby when I had to say goodbye to Jet. It will be some time before we see him again as we have other adventures planned for the next year that will take us in a different direction.
Brett advised us to rather not stay at Mlambe Lodge which was our next stop over. Apparently things at Mlambe are not what they used to be, and tourists are advised to stay clear. He suggested we stay over at Nhkotakota Pottery Lodge.
PS: we never got round to eating the mushroom. Soonest we arrived at Makuzi, I asked Brett if it was safe to eat the mushroom, where upon he nodded yes, but you have to pick them early morning and make sure you fry them straight after. Apparently the maggots take over after a while (and you don’t see them) and they come out in the frying process. We opted throwing the mushroom away … neither Pieter nor I were very interested in finding maggots in our food.