After the Serengeti, we made our way back to camp to pack up and move onto the wondrous Zanzibar. Getting there took a long time, and we all packed onto a ferry to take us from the mainland to the Island. Never in my life have I ever seen such blue water and white sand - it truly was paradise! We spent our first night in Stone Town where we went to a hotel bar to watch the sun set. For dinner we went to the world famous fish market where we ate lots of … Yup Fish! The guys that run the market stalls get very protective of their ‘turf’ and during our short time there a fight kicked off … So in Ross Kemp stylee - we got outta there! The following morning we went snorkelling just off the shore of Prison Island . the coral, fish , urchins and plants were spectacular - in massive want of an underwater camera now. We ate some fruit on the boat then head back to travel up to the North Coast where we were having a break from our tent and staying in a beach shack.
For a short time it felt like we were on a beach holiday - it really was heaven. We mostly just chilled out in the sun and after a few cocktails & a nice dinner at Z Hotel we went to bed ready for the epic return to the mainland the next day. We had to bid a sad goodbye to our good friends Aditi & Toby - the only fellow Brits on the tour but will definitely be seeing them again in the Summer.
Over the next couple of days we had some long days travelling on the bus to get to Malawi. The 26th of January was Australia day - and with over 10 Aussies on the tour we got the drinking started early on the bus as we drive to our campsite which was positioned right on the Lake. Lake Malawi is incomprehensible in terms of size and is nick named the calendar lake as it is 365 miles by 52 miles big. It has a tide & waves so when you stand on its shore or swim in its waters you feel as if you are on a beach.
Malawi is known as The Warm Heart of Africa, and it is clear after only a short time here to see why. The people are unlike any others we have met on our journey so far: happy, smiling, genuine, friendly, hardworking people who are simply infectious. Each person you meet you want to spend an hour with soaking up their positive aura. The children are so happy to see, meet and speak to us - they come running out of their houses waving their arms and screaming just to get a simple wave and a smile.
After Australia day we went on a 30 km hike from the lake up to the town of Livingstonia. I don’t think any of us appreciated how challenging it would be & I was feeling very dehydrated which made it even tougher. Ellis carried my day sack the whole way up and Orla carried my water - such angels! When we got to the top the views were unreal and we trekked on for another hour to get to the town of Livingstonia. The town that has been built there was so beautiful … Flowered front lawns and red brick houses- the influence of Scottish Missionary Dr Livingstone clearly evident. We wandered around the town for a while and went for coffee before the descent down began. On the way we stopped at a beautiful waterfall & had a swim upstream - I had a huge blister on one of my feet from my new walking shoes so had to do the journey down in one shoe / one flip flop! Lots of the local children we spoke with would ask for pens.., such a simple thing that we take so for granted yet is all these children want from us. I met a young girl who couldn’t have been older than 9, yet managed to have a good conversation with me in English. It made me feel lazy & ignorant to have come into this young girls Country and community unable to speak a word of her language when she would walk bare foot over rocks and rubble for 2 hours to learn the language I speak. Her smile was so bright, wide and full of optimism - an image that will be etched into my memory forever.
That evening we had dinner and an early night in preparation of the fancy dress Party the next night. On our way to the next camp the following morning we stopped in the town to buy fancy dress costumes from some of the locals. We all had to dress someone else in the group - I was pretty pleased with my snakeskin pants an velvet crop top combo that Chrissie picked for me ! Orla had some fantastic news from home that her brother had got engaged so we celebrated with lot of drinks & dancing around the beach side camp.
After a few days in Malawi I was sad to leave, having felt more at ease than any where else in Africa. It is most definitely a place that I will return to and have lots of hope in my heart that the political situation improves and the UK and USA can begin donating Aid again to help build a prosperous future for the beautiful, engaged, hopeful children of Malawi.