37 – A Mini Safari in Liwonde

37 – A Mini Safari in Liwonde

Our next destination, Liwonde National Park, was only two hours away. We were hoping to arrive early enough to spot some wild animals. The South Africans kindly (and reluctantly) dropped us at the main road, where we caught a taxi to a bigger town. From there, we would take a bus for a change (well, to avoid a change…of cars!). The minibus was empty when we got in, so we knew it would take a while for it to fill up. We waited, and waited, and waited…

An hour and a half passed, the bus was still half empty, and it had not moved. It seemed illogical to wait two hours for a journey that should only take two hours! The heat was adding to our impatience. It is amazing to watch passengers wait. They get into a comfortable position and emit no sound. They barely move. Only their occasional fly-swatting shows they are still alive. They do not react to the scorching sun, nor to new passengers climbing over them, or luggage being stuffed around them.  It is as if they have temporarily left their bodies, frozen until something happens.

Clearly nothing was going to happen for a while. We decided to find another solution, so got off the bus and asked to be reimbursed. The ticket man refused to give us our money back, despite us insisting. The chances of us getting it back were very low.

There are always lots of people hanging around bus stops, hoping to earn a bit of money. They do not have a lot on their agenda, so instantly gather round and get involved when something interesting happens (like tourists having a discussion with a ticket man). Hence why we were soon surrounded by thirty odd people shouting at us to get back on the bus. It was impossible to have a rational discussion, so we grabbed our bags, said goodbye to our money and left.

It did not take long to find a taxi willing to leave straight away. In we got and off we drove, with the bus driver flapping at us in the distance. He now had to find two new passengers (the fact he already had the money for those seats was neither here nor there!).

Our taxi dropped us in Liwonde town. We sat and ate mangoes and mimed with the locals until a driver from the safari camp came and picked us up.

Arnaud was super excited at the prospect of spotting animals within the camp, so spent the whole afternoon on a lookout point, scouring the forest for any movement. Heather, on the other hand, preferred to enjoy a comfy hammock and good book.

Obviously, what was bound to happen happened: a rhino appeared right next to where Heather was reading her book! One of the guards noticed him and called Heather to come look. By the time Arnaud arrived, the rhino had disappeared into the bushy growth! We did not see much else, just some baboons, bush buck, soldier ants and a cheeky vervet monkey stealing food from the kitchen!

A mummy bushbuck & her baby

Dinner was shared with the other guests (and the monkey!). There was a Dutch couple and Czech guy who had volunteered as a vet at an animal refuge in Lilongwe. He told us he had been blocked in his dorm a few days ago by a couple of elephants outside his door! We realised we had been travelling in Africa for four months and had still not seen an elephant – something we would clearly need to address! The Czech guy’s English was limited so he just smiled when, the next morning, Heather let out her frustrations over the UK’s general election results.

We took advantage of the free coffee at breakfast, then hit the road again. Our Malawian adventure was nearing its end. It was time to go see Wayne (Heather’s 1st cousin once removed) in Zambia before he flew to the UK for Christmas. First, we would need to travel to Lilongwe (Malawi’s capital). Yep, you guessed it – by several minibuses and shared taxis.

2 Replies to “37 – A Mini Safari in Liwonde”

  1. Soldier ants look pretty formidable!
    Next time you go to Malawi, I would recommend a bicycle! For the very long bits, the bicycles go on the roof rack of the bus or the back of the lorry or the top deck of the boat, for the bits in between you can cycle – worked well for us (a looooong time ago!) Xxx

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