On the Saturday morning Sarah, Sanja and I set out from Mzuzu on a minibus to Rumphi (MK1600). We were keeping the trip as budget as possible, so Sarah had made her delicious veg chilli to bring with us for dinner that night. And I was tasked with breakfast. Once we arrived in Rumphi, I bought eggs, milk and bread. Then we started looking for transport to the park gate. We were approached by a minibus driver, however we looked at the minbus to find it completely empty. Now a tip about minibuses in Malawi, they will not leave the depot until they are full. Not full as in all the seats are taken but full as in 25 people in a 12 seater minibus. So an empty minibus could take hours to leave! After much negotiation with a local taxi driver, we got him to bring us to the camp AND collect us on the Sunday afternoon for the same price most were quoting just to take us there (MK18,000). So after about an hour on the dirt road we reached the park where, once again, I negotiated resident's rates (although in fairness they have a rate for "Non-Malawian residents".)
|Girl's trip to Vwaza|
After our delicious chilli and sweet potatoes we headed back to the chalet for a few more drinks. At about 7pm we were rewarded with the sight of 4 big bull elephants making their way slowly through the campsite. It was amazing. The elephants were framed by the trees, moon glistening on the lake behind them as they walked, no more than 10m from where we were sitting. We sat in silence and watched these amazing animals make their way through the camp before exclaiming like little children once they were out of view.
|Sunrise before our game drive|
The next morning we got up for our 7am game walk. Our guide (who had a big ass gun) was able to tell that the elephants who had walked through the camp the night before were male by their foot prints (to do with the amount of cracks on their feet). We walked past the hippo run, the path worn into the ground, surrounded by broken shrubbery. The hippos use the same path into and out of the water and you are not supposed to get between one and the water.And looking at the size of some of them, I reckon the sight of a hippo charging towards you would be enough to elicit some bowel movements. As we walked into the bush, my imagination ran wild. In my head, every branch that cracked under foot was a lion stalking us, any loud noise was an elephant about to charge. This was not helped by the fact that when we asked our guide when he last used his gun, his response "Not too long" and proceeded to tell us about a time when an elephant picked up a Norwegian tourist and THREW him. Luckily the guy was a gymnast and wasn't very badly hurt. However, the guide first shot the elephants leg, but he kept coming and eventually he had to shoot in the brain. The elephant stumbled off into the distance and was not seen again. Needless to say, I hoped we would have no use for the gun!
After three hours we had wandered through the beautiful reserve spotting many impalas and bushbucks, hearing the hippos constantly, spotting elephant and hippo tracks and dung! I look forward to going back to Vwaza, ideally with a car to go on game drives, hopefully to spot more elephants and ideally a lion! Who knows but I did love sitting, watching the hippos, reading my book and generally enjoying the silence and break from city life.
|The beautiful Lake Kazuni|