©Wolfgang Kaehler

Africa Wine and Wildlife – Malawi: Zomba Plateau to Mvuu

Africa Wine and Wildlife – Malawi: Zomba Plateau to Mvuu

By Michelle Alten

Malawi market scene

Malawi market scene

All photos © Wolfgang Kaehler, phototours.us

Day 6- We meet at 4:00 a.m. to get our flights to Malawi.  When we arrive at Blantyre, we board a mini-bus to drive to the Zomba plateau.  We receive a folder made with a rustic handmade paper and learn that it is created from elephant dung.  It is a long ride past towns where little businesses perch next to the road in one-room cement buildings or simple wooden stands.  We pass a tailor, a food vendor, and a man selling old engine parts. We pass barbershops, casket makers, the Oh So Heavenly Grocery and the Oh So Heavenly Pharmacy.  Everywhere men and women carrying goods and children dressed in blue school uniforms are walking along the main road.  At one point we see young men in a field catching mice.

grilled mice on skewer

grilled mice on skewer

Spotting a young man selling the grilled mice on skewers, we stop to have a look.  As we climb the plateau, we pass men with firewood on bicycles or planks on their heads making their way down the mountain.   There is no question about it, the contrast here with South Africa’s Cape region is astounding.  By late afternoon, we arrive at Ku Chawe, a hotel perched high on the plateau looking out over the mountains and plains.

Blue-faced monkeys

Blue-faced monkeys

Day 7- We walk down to a reservoir past beautiful forests of cedar, pine and cypress along with areas where many trees have been chopped down.  It is not clear how the forests here can possibly be preserved.  Michael, our guide, explains that the people need the wood for cooking and that paraffin, an introduced alternative, is too expensive.  The tobacco industry, which produces the main export, uses wood for drying and smoking the tobacco leaves.  Everyone needs the wood, so we see it continuing to descend the mountain on the backs of bicycles.  On our walk we spot blue-faced monkeys looking down on us from the forest canopy.

Leaving Ku Chawe, we drive to town, passing more businesses: Little Angel Chemical Crew, Gods Love Refrigerators, and the Praise Mary Pub.  In the local market, women proudly show us their bounty of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplants and so many other vegetables they have stacked neatly on tables.  When I ask if they are affordable for the local people, I am told that indeed they are.  Continuing through the market, we pass Blessed Fanny’s Investments, but when she realizes that someone has taken a photo of her sign, Blessed Fanny, follows us through the market demanding payment for the picture.

 

Man in canoe

Man in canoe

After our market visit, we drive to Liwonde Town where we get our boat to Liwonde National Park.

A hippo with ox pecker birds

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Nile crocodile

Nile crocodile

With this ride on the Shire River, our safari begins.  Hippos, almost completely submerged, peer from the water while elephants gather in meadows, feeding on the lush grasses.  A crocodile, some twelve feet long, waits for a meal at the river’s edge and baboons preen each other’s coats.  The abundance of wildlife is astounding.  We settle into the Mvuu Lodge –meaning hippo in the local language– then head out in our vehicles to see more wildlife.  In the park we spot a male kudu with impressive horns, elephants with young, impalas, warthogs, ground hornbills, and bushbuck.  As the sun sets our hosts set up tables in a meadow and serve our “sun downer”, a safari happy hour.  The stars grow so bright that we can see the Southern Cross and the Milky Way.  We forget coming from the city as we soak in the magic of night sky.

Elephant

Elephant

For upcoming tours please go to www.phototours.us

Posted June 3, 2016 | Categories: Blog, Photography, and Travel.

2 Responses to “Africa Wine and Wildlife – Malawi: Zomba Plateau to Mvuu”

  1. Cherie St. Pierre

    Great photos. Love the wildlife. Looks like you are never home.

  2. wolfgang

    Thanks Cherie – keep checking the blog. More amazing wildlife to come. Best, Wolfgang