Thursday 6th to Friday 7th September 2012.
From Blantyre we made our way to Cape MacClear, on the southern shore of the lake. We were stopped at several police roadblocks and found all friendly and professional. Nowhere else in Africa have we seen so many people walking the roads. Even in the heat of the day, people walked and rode bikes along the roadside. We passed a few stalls of woven mats, hats and baskets, wonderful homemade wooden toys, and carvings. Mostly though we passed villages and villagers.
The last few kilometres to the Fat Monkey Camp followed a winding dirt road. We arrived by mid-afternoon and were met with a warm welcome from Phoenix, the manager there. The lake was quite a sight. It is an enormous stretch of freshwater. It is so vast that from where we were you could not see the other side. A couple of kilometres off the shore stands a small island that you can kayak or boat across to. The day was hot and it was perfect for our first dip in the cool water. We chose a camp spot right on the shoreline, so we were serenaded with lapping waves all night. We met a group of South Africans on an overland trip to meet the great migration of wildebeest in Tanzania. We also met another South African called Sydney, on a three week solo motorbike adventure (we have him to thank for the fishy photo in this post :). We drank sundowners under the rose pink sunset then enjoyed one of our best cobb-fired pizzas and a relaxing night.
It was lovely to sleep in the next morning. The waves lapped invitingly on the shore as we cooked up a batch of pancakes for breakfast. We ate them with fresh strawberries and mulberries we bought from a guy walking past on the beach. The big group of South Africans on migration left early. Sydney was still around for a couple of days, so we sat on the shore chatting and enjoyed getting to know him. The three of us decided to hire a couple of sea-kayaks and paddle out to the island. The temperature was a perfect warm, both in and out of the lake. On the kayak, we marvelled at how clear the water was. Even in the deep waters far from the shore we could see sun streaming into the green depths for ages. It was beautiful.
The boulders around the island teem with colourful fish. We had taken along some old bread and were able to hold it in the water and have schools of fish feeding out of our hands. You could feel their little mouths nibbling gently at the tips of your fingers. It was awesome! We took our snorkels too, so spent quite some time swimming amongst the fish and watching them feast. Fish eagles also live on the island and Sydney had bought some small fish off the local fishermen to feed them. We kayaked a little way further around the island until we spotted one of the huge eagles perched in a tree. Sydney whistled, and then threw the fish far out into the water. The eagle cocked its head, paused a moment, then launched out of the tree, circled the floating fish and dived to retrieve it. Back at camp that evening we all cooked up some fillets of locally caught kapanga to eat with a greek salad and some cold ‘greens’.