From Cape Maclear there is a great way to get out – the LLawa ferry ( and i loooove boats!). Anyone who has ever been on a longterm backpacking stint will know all too well the endless hours you spend on packed buses, sweating, head bobbing, starving longing for your destination. This is why when offered the chance of a boat – you HAVE to take it! And so we did…
The ferry runs once a week from the bottom of the lake to the top of the lake via an island in the middle. If I had time I would definitely have headed to the island but alas that’s for another trip, so if you have the chance then grab the opportunity and set sail!
As I mentioned in previous posts about Malawi the transport is somewhat unpredictable so from leaving Cape Maclear leaving at 5am and arriving at Senga bay around 7pm I managed to sit in the back of a pick-up truck, was wedged into a minibus, took a slooooow ferry, jumped on the back of a push-bike taxi, broke down in a van when the petrol was so low that going up a hill the petrol ran from the tank, hitched a ride with a crazy English women in a saloon car alongside her considerably younger Malawian husband and finally arrived in Senga Bay with my life intact. Having spent a grand total of $6 on transport all day, I realized just how cheap Malawi can be if your willing to rough it a little bit.
Senga Bay is an interesting little place. Much more removed from the tourist trail that exists in Malawi (and therefore your Malawian Kwacha stretches much further) it certainly feels much more like ‘real Africa’. We stayed in a very local guesthouse for a dollar a night in the middle of an African village which was certainly an experience in itself.
The town of Senga Bay does have a couple of hostels, and in true shoestring style, we stayed in a cheap place and spent our time in the nice place! The hostels offer a few great watersport activities and all for less than $15 so save some money on food and accommodation and go crazy on the lake all afternoon, still ducking under that $30 a day budget that most people go with.
Be aware however, that there are no ATMS here that work (in fact that goes for a lot of the country!) so stock up on cash in Llongwe or Blantyre if possible.
I had done that, luckily enough, so when I saw some disgusting brash pink tshirts seemingly for sale I made a beeline to them to make my purchase. There was a lot of activity surrounding the event, with hordes of locals surrounding the pink bus with the Tshirts so I moved a little closer to find out what was going on. Big mistake. Before long I was at the front of the crowd with the guy and his microphone publicly enquiring as to how to get one of these tshirt. “$9” he said. I was shocked by the price considering we were in Malawi after all but the public pressure got to me so I decided to see the purchase through to the end, I tried to then buy the shirt for the $9 but apparently I had got the whole thing wrong. This pink event was being run by one of their phone networks (Zain) and I had to buy a phone and simcard for $9 and if I was lucky I may win a tshirt along with the tshirt. A bit of fraudulent activity by the guy on the microphone and soon I was the lucky winner of a tshirt and a proud new owner of a Zain mobile phone. The crowd seemed entertained at least, if a little skeptical!
Time in Senga Bay was up, off to the capital….