Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Lake!

I couldn’t be in Malawi and not talk about the lake. After all it is known as the “Land of the Lake”.  All one side of the country is bordered by the lake and it would be remiss of me not to talk about a place where we spend most weekends. Having just spent another weekend at Nkhata Bay, it has reminded me how much I love the lake.
Now this lake is HUGE. They call it the calendar lake as it is 52 miles across and 365miles north to south. 20% of Malawi’s surface is covered by water, from Lake Malawi and three other lakes. And Lake Malawi makes up 75% of Malawi’s eastern border. Standing at the lake shore, it is very easy to think you are facing the sea, when it is windy and there are waves I constantly have to tell myself that it is a LAKE! According to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge), it is the 3rd largest lake in Africa and the 8th largest in the world. The lake is also known as “Lake of Stars”, a term coined by Sir David Livingstone in relation to the lights that the local fishermen use at night.

Traditional boat

Recently the lake has been a source of some potential conflict between Malawi and Tanzania. Oil has been discovered and there was talk of a possible war over the right to harvest this oil. However, thankfully, this conflict seems to have died down a little. There has always been some conflict over Tanzania’s access to the lake and having a share in the profits from the lake. However if there was to be drilling for oil, the hundreds of fishing communities on all shores of the lake could have their livelihood lost.
Kande Beach
The first place I visited on the lake was Kande Beach. A resort run by an English man set on a long stretch of beach. It’s a beautiful setting and is frequented by overland trucks Here I went horse riding for the FIRST time ever. The trip ended with us going swimming with the horses! Kande is very popular with overland trucks and this can result in nights dancing on the bar. In other words, lots of fun. The beach stretches as far as the eye can see and there is a scuba school on site run by Justin and Joy- Aquanuts.

Here in Mzuzu we go to the Northern Lake Shore, from what others have told me, the northern shore is the most beautiful. The nearest town to us is Nkhata Bay, a town worthy of its own blog post, considering we go there again and again.

I have also visited Makuzi beach resort. Beautiful gardens, a private beach, good food but a tad out of a backpackers budget. Luckily we visited there with work.

And then there is Chinteche Inn. Widely known as the most expensive resort on the Northern Lakeshore. Why was I there? For a music festival. 3 days of African music while taking dips in the lake or lounging on the beach. 

There is a risk of bilharzia in Lake Malawi. A small risk but a risk none the less. However as the parasites live in snails that live in reeds in stagnant waters, the risk on the Northern shores is minuscule. (see my point about waves) But seeing as you prevent yourself getting the parasite by taking a dose of praziquantel (or as I like to call it "The drug I take when I have been swimming in the lake") once every 6 months, and it costs a little over a euro, why not take it. It most certainly is not a reason to not swim in this glorious lake.

Quote of the day: "You only live once; but if you live it right, once is enough." --Adam Marshall

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