As soon as I arrived in Malawi, I received a warm welcoming friendly response from Malawians. All along the busy streets, people were waving and cheering us on, as if we took part in a charity run. Desperate vendors took no for an answer and walked off. Yet, poverty is a major factor in Malawi, as much as anywhere in Africa. Crossing the border from Mozambique into Malawi takes patience, but is a friendly experience.
Even before getting to the Malawi border post, I got swarmed by locals wanting to exchange money. Once passed through Mozambique customs, a 5 km ‘no mans land’ strip leads to the Malawi border post. As an owner of a car and self-driver, passing through immigration goes in three steps.
- Firstly, a visa cost 75$ US, they don’t accept local currency ‘Kwacha’. I needed to exchange at the bank in the customs area. Once that is paid, processing the visa takes a fair while.
- The second step is to register Zimba with government traffic authorities. Another lengthy process, paying another 20$ US, and another 10000 ‘Kwacha’ for road taxes.
- The third step is 3rd party car insurance, which cost 35000 ‘Kwacha’ for a month.
There are so-called ‘transporters’, officially registered by immigration, who help you through the paperwork process. Admittedly, I was a bit suspicious at starters but was happy to have Lucky and Stanley transporting me through the system, as efficient as possible for African standards.
Whilst my visa has been processed, we moved on to traffic and car insurance, saving a fair amount of time. Both weren’t pushy or asked for money and let myself decide, if and how much to pay for their ‘volunteer’ services. Friendly faces all around, even customs officers took the time to have a little chat. One really gets a happy vibe all around.
Descending from green semi-alpine mountains into a very dry and hot climate, caused by surrounding granite mountain ranges, I passed through an array of Baobab trees.
I passed a medium sized granite hill and decided to climb up, to get a better view.
I was looking out over the never-ending Baobab Forrest.
On top of the hill stood a single Baobab tree, like on many other hills.
Most of the fruit had cracked and opened, due to intense heat.
A good opportunity for close up photos of the baobab fruit.
Not often do I get a chance to look down to a Baobab tree.
By the time I returned to Zimba, a family sat not far, watching and wondering what I was doing.
A father with 4 kids gave us the thumbs up.
Friendly, but uncertain of a camera. A few photos were taken before I drove on. ‘Tedzani Falls’ was on my way to Blantyre and not too far off the main highway. Waterfall and Baobab trees combined got my definite interest.
A dry, dusty track lead to the falls, passing communities nestled within Baobab trees.
A rather spectacular view, those trees have me mesmerized. Almost everyone waved happily, wondering where the zebra wagon is going to.
Kids were happy to pose in front of the camera, a slightly different vibe to Mozambique.
The waterfalls were occupied by a hydroelectric plant, wish I knew that before.
Nevertheless, passing these Baobab Trees was worth the detour.
The sun was fairly low already, I won’t get to Blantyre before sunset. Thick cloud cover over distant peaks was dramatic and colourful.
Driving at dusk and darkness along busy Malawian streets isn’t recommended, but I had no choice if I was to reach Blantyre.
After checking in to ‘Doogles Backpackers’ I had a few friendly chats with locals and two Dutch ‘soon to be doctors’ ladies. A few beers later, we decided to experience local nightlife in Blantyre. A few nightclubs and plenty of beer later, we headed home at 3 am in the morning. A good vibe all around, however, the oldest profession in the world seems to thrive here.