Day 204 - 205 Malawi : Senga bay - Lilongwe

Day 204 Malawi

Trip Distance 137km (85m) Total Distance 22430 km (13940 m)
Road Condition 100% tar    
Time to travel 2.5hrs    
Cost of diesel MK199.30 (£0.90)    
The Sanctuary S13 58.199 E33 47.114 MK2520 (US$18) -Great campsite, clean hot showers and flushing loos but vicious army ants that'll carry you away! Internet (Skyband) at extra charge.

We said our goodbyes again and kissed and hugged Kate and Ben and we were off.  This was a relatively short drive for us and when we reached Lilongwe it was time for lunch.  We searched out the Shoprite and to our surprise found a Nandos there as well.  Ace!  We bumped into Rob & Nicolette travelling back to Cape Town and who we'd met briefly at The Old Farmhouse and had a quick chat to them whilst we waited for our lunch.  I bought some airtime and downloaded and answered emails.  With full tummies we did a massive shop at Shoprite as our provisions were now running low and then set off to find the Post Office to collect our new replacement NautrePure cartridges that (we hoped!) were waiting for us on a Poste Restante delivery.  We were so impressed to find that it worked (this has been going for almost a hundred years) especially in Africa.  But there you go, we can still be pleasantly surprised.

Once we had eaten, we set off for Mabuya Campsite but when we arrived it was filled with overland trucks again and the campsite for individual vehicles was inadequate and dry and dusty.  So we set off to find somewhere a bit more comfortable.  Lilongwe Golf Club takes campers and the site looked nice (including free internet) but being so hot, there was no pool and we were in need of a bit of cold comfort.  The Danby's had raved about The Sanctuary and Rob had mentioned that they were camping there as well, so we set off to have a look.

On arrival The Sanctuary looked great - expensive, but great.  The campsite was grassed and the ablution block was clean with fabulous hot showers and loos.  We decided to stay and set up camp.  While we were doing this, a few ants appeared and we got a bit of a nip or 2 but we brushed them away without a thought - more about them later.  We had bought a Skyband card from the reception (MK2000 for 5 hours that can be used non-contiguously and is valid at all Skyband points for 14 days - useful) and with Wifi reaching the campsite, I was able to start updating the website and getting some banking donea_SG107633 .  So it was early to bed and by the time we woke up in the morning, nary an ant was to be found so we thought about them no more.

As we still had the rear dust brake covers sitting in Sully and we felt that we really needed to fit them again, we decided to walk into town to find the Land Rover dealership to see if they could weld the plates.  It was a very pleasant 1.5hr walk before we eventually found them and discovered that they could weld them.  They promised that they would be ready the following day.  We made our way back to The Sanctuary but not before stopping in for some lunch at a fantastic Italian restaurant that we found next to Foodworths called Al Fresco.  It is run by an Italian and with their pizza oven burning in the kitchen, they make the most sublime thin crust fresh pizzas that we have tasted anywhere outside of Italy.

We set off back to camp just around the corner from Foodworths after another forage for provisions by which time Ben and Kate had arrived.  On chatting to them, this was our first inkling that all was not well in Malawi.  They had discovered when looking for diesel to fill Helga that there was none to be had in Lilongwe and, indeed, the whole of Malawi - there was a national shortage.  Rumours abounded and we subsequently heard that it had been caused by the Malawian president.  Turns out he had spent all the US forex in buying himself a new jet and despite the fuel held in tankers awaiting delivery off the coast of East Africa, they, of course, would not release it without being paid - damn right!  We were in quite a positive position with fuel as, having heard that fuel was expensive in Malawi, we had filled up to the brim in Tanzania just before leaving so we had enough to get us to Mozambique but Ben and Kate weren't that lucky and only had enough fuel to get them to Blantyre (if they were lucky).

Putting these issues to the back of our minds, we had a swim in the hotel pool and as the sun was setting went back to the campsite for supper.  Kate had offered to make Spaghetti Bolognaise and we accepted in a flash.  Her dad's recipe (thanks, Kate's Dad!) was fantastic with a rich, warm sauce and the spaghetti cooked to perfection.  Accompanied by a fresh salad, it was food fit for a king.  We had just settled down to a chat over a glass of red wine when Ben started to pat his legs and brush off a few ants.  But within seconds he was covered in army ants that had crawled up his pant to the top of legs an, almost on command, had proceeded to bite him in unison.  He let out a shout and ripped off his trousers dancing around in agony.  We, not realising how badly he was being bitten, watch the spectacle and were hysterical with laughter.  Not for long though as the ants found us and did the same.  Turns out that the ants (army ants with tiny bodies and big heads) were moving en masse around the campsite and we just happened to be in their path.  We spent the next hour or so trying in vain to make polite conversation whilst batting off biting ants.  They seemed to know our tender spots and made straight for between toes, backs of knees and genitals.  Ouch!  Finally we decided to go to bed but not before fending of another attack as we hopped and bounded over the grass to the bathroom.  Rob's group seemed unaffected by this all.  But the next morning the ants had moved from our side to theirs and they were greeted by an army of soldiers having surrounded their trucks and staring up at them ready to attack as they left their tents.

We'd had enough and decided to pack up and move on to our next stop - Liwonde National Park and Mvuu Campsite.