Backpacking in Malawi – Llongwe and Nkhata Bay

From Senga bay we headed to the capital, Llongwe. This was more of a transit point than anything else as we headed to Nkhata bay in the north, the last stop on the ‘tourist trail’ really and as we move northwards from here the backpacking numbers dwindle and dwindle.

Nkhata bay proved to be a very intriguing place, not least because I ended up sitting outside a prison speaking to the convicts about how they ended up there!

Malawi landscape

Nkhata bay

Nkhata bay is effectively the last stop as you move north towards Tanzania so I ended up spending 3 nights here before the disgusting 2 day bus journey to Dar Es Salaam. It’s a very laidback place, with a couple of great hostels. I stayed in Big Blue for about $5 a night and with free wifi and big portions of food, I’d recommend it highly =)

I was walking around the town taking pictures carefree until I apparently took one too many and got confronted by a very scary AK47 wielding soldier who looked straight from Blood Diamond the movie! Turns out I was taking photos of Nkhata Bay prison and naturally that’s not exactly inline with acceptable behaviour. He was of course very nice about it after and didn’t even bear the huge machete he had shoved down the waistband of his trousers!

Prisoner chats

Over the next couple of days I ended up becoming quite friendly with a couple of the prisoners (who were allowed to conduct their daily work outside the front of the prison). They were very amiable indeed and were living testament to the new zero-tolerance attitude that the new Government is demonstrating. Snoop dog (below) threw one drunken punch and got 7 years in prison!

Anyways, they were cool guys and after throwing a few bits and bobs their way they made a really cool copper ring for me with the Malawian sun carved into one side of it – it sits proudly on my backpack as we speak =)

Convicts in Malawi

Witch doctors

The last day in Nkhata bay was spent with the local witch doctor! For $5 he showed us around his village, went through his various ‘potions’ (for want of a better word), showed us around the fields were he collects his remedies and generally enlightened us to the world of local doctors here. He was a cool guy and the stuff he showed us was mind-blowing although never have I been happier to be a recipient of Britain’s National Health Service!!

Just before I bid farewell to Malawi I had time for a quick trim in the local salun (sic). She was adamant that she had cut a white guys hair before but judging from the industrial paper cutting scissors and botch job she did on my golden locks, I remain unconvinced! Still for 35p what do you expect 😛

mazungu haircut

Tanzania here I come….

P.S The internet in Ethiopia (where i am at the moment) is terrible, hence the lack of uploaded pics! Sorry, i’ll update it when i can! But considering my next stop is Somalia, it might be a week or 2!

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