DAY 16 - Mzuzu, Malawi to Livingstonia, Malawi
Onno and I said our final goodbyes to Gail and Paula early this morning before heading into town to catch a minibus to Chitimba. Our true destination was Livingstonia, a missionary village on top of a mountain overlooking the Lake. However, as there is no public transport directly to Livingstonia, we were planning to catch a bus to Chitimba (which is little more than a string of shacks at the turnoff for the road up to Livingstonia), leave our packs with the staff at the Chitimba Beachside Campsite and hike up to the village on foot.
Onno and I had no trouble finding a bus to take us from Mzuzu to Chitimba. In fact, we were lucky enough to hop on a minibus that absolutely tore up the highway and got us to Chitimba in no time flat. We were let off on a desolate piece of highway next to a steep, dirt track that led up to Livingstonia. I think Onno and I gulped in unison as we surveyed the task in front of us. We still needed to drop our bags off at the campsite across the street and we figured we would get some breakfast while we were at it – we were going to need all the sustenance we could get!
There was a French and an Aussie guy sitting at the bar when we reached the campsite. We struck up a conversation with them as we ate our breakfast and it turned out that they worked for a mining company that was doing some prospecting in the area. More importantly, they were on their way back up the hill towards Livingstonia and offered to give Onno and I a lift. We weren’t going to let an opportunity like this pass us by so Onno and I inhaled the rest of our meal, separated our day packs from our main packs (which we left at reception) and jumped in their truck. While the road up to Livingstonia had looked pretty intimidating from the highway, we were even more grateful for the lift the further up the hill we got. The dirt track up the mountain was seriously long (around 15km) and seriously steep! The miners dropped us off at Lukwe Eco Lodge, a beautiful site perched right on the edge of mountain a couple of kilometers down the road from the actual village. We checked in and were escorted to a cabin with absolutely spectacular views down to the Lake.
We dumped our day packs and started heading up the road to Livingstonia but we hadn’t gone far before a bunch of local kids (who were no more than 8 or 9 years old) hijacked us and took us on a guided tour of Manchewe Falls. They lead us down barely recognizable tracks to a beautiful waterfall and to a cave (hidden by a waterfall) that they explained was used to hide families from slave traders back in the day.
The tour of the falls was probably the highlight of our trip up the mountain as Livingstonia itself was a little disappointing. It was nice to walk around and see some of the historical buildings but I can’t lie that if we had walked all that way and not seen the falls I would be seriously disappointed. Still, considering we had been given a lift, seen the falls and were staying at a beautiful eco lodge, perched on the side of the mountain with breathtaking views out to the lake from our balcony, this little excursion had been well worth it.