Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Planet Baobab

"Makgadikgadi? I asked what was out there, and they said 'Nothing - only idiots go there.' I thought fine, that's the place for me."
Jack Bousfield, 1963

Luckily these days there is something out there. One of the most unique lodges in Africa in fact. Planet Baobab is a lodge and campsite designed in the style of a traditional Bakalanga village. It is situated just a few kilometres from Gweta on the Nata-Maun road in northern Botswana. Although it is just a few hundred metres from the main road it is completely hidden, and the advantage is that once you are there you too are completely hidden! The only way you can tell when to get off the bus or turn off the road is because of the presence of a whopping great pink aardvark on the side of the road!

On arrival the lodge reveals itself to be situated in, under and around 17 baobab trees which the stylish huts compliment with their authentic designs. The campsite is hidden at the back of the complex (perhaps the tents and 4x4's would ruin the look!) but is not neglected, campers enjoying the roofless shower blocks and shaded sites. The huge bar is like some temporary open-air aircraft hanger and is crammed full of retro photos of African life and other cool artifacts. The restaurant is quite expensive (but campers are free to self-cater) but offers a wide range of dishes from across the continent. They also offer tours onto the salt pans, which include wildlife safaris, quad bike expeditions, meerkat visits, local village tours and overnight bush camping trips. Uncharted Africa, who run Planet Baobab, also own the luxury Jacks Camp, San camp and the beautifully isloated Camp Kalahari, right in the middle of the pans.

All in all a visit is a unique experience and one of Africa's highlights in terms of accommodation options!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Zambia Travel Costs

Zambia is widely regarded these days as one of the more expensive countries in Africa in which to travel. The fact that they export petrol to Zimbabwe who are then able to sell it at lower costs hints to part of the problem. It does not affect travellers as much as Zambians and here are some ways to get by:

Visa - $50, available at the border or beforehand at a Zambian embassy. Valid for 1 months entry, to be used within 3M of issue

Shared taxi from border to Chipata - 10,000Kwa (Zambian Kwacha) p.p, 30 mins
Tomatoes/Onions at Chipata market - 1000/2000Kwa per pile
African Polony in Chipata - 500Kwa per portion
Minibus from Chipata to Mfuwe - 50,000Kwa p.p. up to 5 hours waiting plus 4-5 hours for the journey. Add 5-10,000Kwa for a private transfer from Mfuwe to a camp or lodge.
Camping at Croc Valley, Mfuwe - 35,000Kwa p.p. Includes free visit from hippos and elephants, and maybe a leopard, during the night.
Beer at Croc Vallet - 10,000Kwa. Meals here very overpriced but there is a self-catering kitchen available.
Game drive - 125,000Kwa park fees plus 200,000Kwa for 4 hours game drive.
Bus from Chipata to Lusaka - 115,000Kwa, 6-20 hours. Good road, good buses, nice scenery.
Dorm at Ku-omboka Backackers, Lusaka - 45,000Kwa p.p. Nice restaurant (mains around 23,000Kwa) and bar.
Fast food at LA Fast Foods - 12-20,000Kwa for kebab, chips, burgers, fried chicken etc
Proper meal (i.e. nsima with chicken or fish) at Fajemas - 15,000Kwa
Internet - from 9-12,000Kwa per hour. Fastest and best is at Arcades.
Fruit and vegetables on Soweto market in Lusaka - usually 1500-2000Kwa per kilo.
Minibus from centre to Arcades or Manda Hill - 2000Kwa p.p.
Taxi around town - around 15,000Kwa
Bus from Lusaka to Livingstone - 80,000Kwa, 6-10 hours.
Camping at Jollyboys, Livingstone - 30,000Kwa p.p. Nice place, well run, pool and bar, internet, book swap, info desk, craft shop and excellent self-catering kitchen.
Meal at Chinese restaurant, Livingstone - from 12-20,000Kwa
Minibus to Victoria Falls NP - 2500Kwa
Entrance to Victoria Falls NP - 48,000Kwa (or $10USD at current rate)
Guide to walk along the top of the falls - 20,000Kwa (after bargaining)
Beer at Jollyboys - 8000Kwa
Shared taxi to Kazangula (Botswana border) - 25,000Kwa each
Ferry across Zambezi to Botswana - 2000Kwa

Average cost per person per day - 125,000Kwa

Exchange rate - USD$1=4800Kwa, GBP1=7600Kwa

Travel Tips for Malawi

Malawi turned out to be more expensive than we anticipated, but it is possible to keep your costs down, here are some ways to do it:

Visa - for those who need a visa they cost $70-100, valid for 30 days within Malawi, takes 4 days to issue in Dar Es Sallaam. Check before arriving at the border as none should be issued there, although we have heard from various people that in emergencies it is possible.

Taxi from Songwe Bridge (Tanzanian border) to Nkhata Bay - 15,000MK after bargaining (300km+). A minibus should cost around 1000MK, but will require at least two changes and probably an overnight in Karonga or Mzuzu.
Camping at Kupenja Lodge, Nkhata Bay - 400MK p.p.
Basic meal at Kupenja Lodge (i.e. Rice and Veg or beans / fish or meat) - 400/600MK
Beer (Carlsberg 'Green'/'Stout') at Kupenja Lodge - 150/180MK
Soft drinks in a shop/bar - 50/100MK
Meal in local cafe - around 200MK
Internet - 5-8MK per min.
2l bottle of mineral water - 200MK
200ml bottle of WaterGuard purifier - 30MK
Bag of chips (with cabbage) - 100MK
Minibus from Nkhata Bay to Mzuzu - 350MK, 1 hour, 50km
Scone from street vendor - 50MK
Bus/Minibus from Mzuzu to Chikangawa (Viphya Plateau) and v.v. - 300/400MK, 1 hour, 55km
Camping at Kasito Lodge, Viphya Plateau - 750MK per site
Eggs/tomato/onion per piece on market - 30/10/30-50MK
Roast corn on the cob - 50-100MK
1st/2nd/Economy class ticket on Ilala from Nkhata Bay to Chizimulu island - 2600/960/590MK, 4 hours, totally packed, we took 1st class for this sector.
Camping at Wakwenda Retreat, Chizimulu island - 500MK p.p. But it is a priceless experience. Stunning location, excellent design and set-up. Only downside was the useless staff!
Beer at Wakwenda (Foreigner/Local) - 200/150MK. Hmmmm......
Meals at Wakwenda - from 400MK, slightly overpriced. Dinners usually 800MK per person, which is normal for backpackers in Malawi.
Snorkelling at Wakwenda - FREE
Meal at Joyces restaurant (next door to Wakwenda) - around 300MK for rice or nsima with egg, veg and beans. A little more for fish.
Dhow ride from Chizimulu to Likoma - 150MK p.p. From 1.5-5 hours depending on weather.
Camping at Mango Drift, Likoma - 500MK p.p. Nice beach and well organised.
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner at Mango Drift - 200-600/200-900/800MK
Beer/G'and'T and Mango Drift - 200/250MK
Firewood - 100MK per bunch (imported from Mozambique!)
Sunday service at Likoma Cathedral - FREE, includes spiritual blessing
Self-catering dinner for 7 on a fire - 120MK per person for 3 plates each of a stew of rice, beans, soya mince, potatoes and 4 types of vegetables.
Soya pieces - 65-80MK per packet.
1st/2nd class ticket on Ilala from Likoma to Monkey Bay - 9600/2800MK
Breakfast, lunch or dinner on Ilala in 1st class restaurant - 400-600MK
Coffee on Ilala - 100MK per cup. NO REFILLS!
'Green' beer on Ilala - 180MK
Coca-cola on Ilala - 80 in 2nd class, 100MK in 1st!
Meal from Economy galley (something like nsima and beef stew) - 150-200MK
Night in Luxury cabin on Ilala if arriving in Monkey Bay after dark - FREE for tourists, after consultation with the captain.
Ride on pick-up from Monkey Bay to Mangochi - 350MK
Bus from Mangochi to Blantyre - 700MK
Camping at Doogles, Blantyre - 600MK p.p.
Beer at Doogles - 180MK, if you can get through the crowds to the bar!
Sports on TV (5th Ashes for instance) - FREE
Meal at Temptations Cafe, Blantyre - 400MK
Minibus from Blantyre to Limbe - 50MK
Minibus from Limbe to Mulanje (Chitikale) - 400MK
100g bag of Macadamia Nuts from vendor enroute - 10MK!!!!! Deal of the Century!
Minibus/Pick-up from Chitikale to Likubula Forest Office and v.v. - 150MK, but they will ask for 250MK
Mt Mulanje park entrance fee - 100MK per visit
Left luggage storage charge - 500MK per group
Camping at CCAP Lodge, Likhubula - 360MK p.p.
Sleeping in mountain huts on Mulanje - 700MK p.p. Nice huts, albeit empty, you sleep on the floor or on one of a few matresses but there are wardens to supply water and firewood and all have nice fireplaces.
Minibus from Thuchila to Likhubula - 200MK
Bus from Blantyre to Lilongwe - 700MK, min 5 hours, 320km
Taxi from bus station to Mabuya Camp - 800MK
Camping at Mabuya Camp - 700MK p.p. Brilliantly run, one of the best places we have stayed so far. Staff were friendly and helpful and nothing was too much trouble. They have a pool, internet, book swap, laundry facilities, many braii pits, hot showers and a nice relaxed bar. The staff are a mine of information about onward trips you may have planned.
'Green'/Stout/Coffee at Mabuya Camp - 175/200/75MK
Set dinners at Mabuya Camp - from 550-800MK
Internet at Mabuya Camp - 10MK per min. Ouch!
Internet in Lilongwe - from 5MK per min.
Self-caterers can make use of the PTC, Shoprite and Metro stores all close to each other in the centre.
Minibus from Lilongwe to Mchinji (Malawi/Zambia border) - 600MK, 2 hours
Shared taxi from Mchinji to the actual border post - around 200MK p.p.

Budget - 3000MK per person per day based on two people camping every night and self-catering for at least half of the meals.

Exchange rate - 141MK=$1USD at the official rate. If you have greenbacks then you can change them for up to 180MK on the black market. Therefore it is better to bring cash into Malawi, not rely on ATM's like us and get the official rate!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

South Saturn Delta

Botswana is not an easy country to visit. The visa system is very restrictive and once you get into the country you realise the full extent to which they are dedicated to “high revenue – low impact” tourism. What this means is that unless you are willing to pay upwards of $300USD per night to sleep in a luxury lodge only accessible by air transfer then the Botswana government are not interested in you! Whilst this model has sound environmental strengths, less people means less pollution, overcrowding and threat to the wildlife I am not so sure about the social implications. Surely Botswanans will develop a skewed image of foreign tourists if the only ones they meet are the uber-rich? Rather amusing was the fact that after jumping through hoops to get a visa the border guard was about to absent-mindedly stamp Monika in without even checking her nationality! More frustrating was that the visa was valid only for 14 days, and this was reduced further to only 10 days by immigration. We had had to rush out of Zambia due to the conditions of both the Botswana and Namibia visas and now we encountered more restrictions!

In Kasane we realised the campsite we had booked did not exist but we found an alternative place tacked on to a luxury lodge full of holidaying South Africans. Kasane itself is a strange dusty town full of warthogs wandering the streets, holding up the fleets of 4x4’s. The town is still and silent, with no life from the locals. The markets are quiet and staid and when we wanted to do a boat trip into the Chobe national park we could not find anyone to take us. Anywhere else in Africa you would have people clambering over each other to offer you a tour of some sorts. We had to resort to visiting the tourism board for help finding a suitable boat!

It was worth the search however. The boat trips take place in the afternoon, just before sunset. We found a lodge with a small boat, only 12 seats, rather than the 56 seaters owned by the big lodges. This small boat was able to get us closer to the crocs and hippos than we wanted and to good views of elephants, buffalo, giraffe and even a sable antelope. The highlight for many people is viewing elephants crossing the river, something we witnessed just after sunset. An elephant population of over 120,000 in northern Botswana alone makes any boat cruise exciting.

Botswana is one of the few African success stories. Despite being neglected during the colonial era, only protected by the Brits to stop any incursions from either the Boers or the Germans (who had just arrived in Namibia). At independence in 1966 there was only one 12km paved road in the entire country. All of a sudden they found diamonds and the economy boomed. The real reason for the success (one of the highest GDP per capita in Africa and the fastest growing economy in the world since independence) is that the government did not spend the new found wealth on personal excess, there were no mansions being built, spending sprees abroad or limousines cruising through Gabarone. Other African nations should have taken note. At one point during this time the average lifespan even hit 70 in Botswana. Unfortunately nowadays this figure has dropped to below 30, a sad reflection of how AIDS has ravaged a country with a population of under 2 million, and even that number is shrinking according to some counts.

This small population is probably why there is barely any public transport infrastructure in Botswana. Hitch-hiking is considered the easiest way to get around and just outside each ‘town’ there will be a ‘hiking spot’ under a tree where potential travellers can wait for a lift. Getting away from the main centres is pretty much impossible, unless you are cheeky enough to approach some of the South African families in the campsites, which we weren’t!

We did manage to get a ride from Kasane to Nata where we waited a couple of hours over a plate of rice and beef stew before catching a Maun-bound bus and getting dropped off at Planet Baobab. An amazing lodge, known by all and worthy of its own bus stop in the middle of nowhere, staying at Planet Baobab is like camping in a fairy tale. The lodge is an exquisitely designed collection of huts around a pool, restaurant and bar with a campsite around the back, complete with open-air showers. It is situated right on the edge of the Makgadikgadi salt pans. When we asked if we could walk to the pans the owner laughed (its 32km in blistering heat through lion-populated forest!) but kindly offered us a significant discount off of the tour rates. It was still expensive enough to take us all night to decide whether to go or not however! The tour consisted of a picnic ‘in the bush’, a game drive through herds of zebra and wildebeest and a trip on quad-bikes across the pans. Although we are not usually excited about this type of excursion it was a lot of fun, although I was slightly scared when Monika was driving as she spent the whole time cackling like a witch and imitating the sound of the engine! The highlight of the whole tour for me however was visiting a family of meerkats on our way home, such strange and inquisitive creatures we were able to get very close to them without distressing them at all.

Travelling through rural Zambia felt like travelling through a BBC documentary on Africa – the quintessential golden colours, plains dotted with baobab trees and mud huts and women walking to and fro with giant pales of water on their heads – the first time we have felt like that perhaps since we were in West Africa over two years ago! In contrast, travelling in Botswana the scenery is at best an image of an outback ghost town in Australia and at worst travelling in a post-apocalyptic world. The dusty, sparse landscape dotted with discarded car tyres and ugly tin shacks behind wire fences. There are barely any people around (Botswana ranks 228th out of 238 in the world by population density, beating countries such as Namibia, Mongolia, Iceland and Australia) and therefore the land feels lifeless. Even the dust is dull, more grey than red and like walking through a spillage of white pepper. The markets are small and few and far between and very sterile when compared with those in other African countries, it seems as if most people shop in the giant supermarkets found in the larger towns, of which there obviously are not many.

Finally we made it to Maun, the gateway to the famous Okavango Delta. Although we could not afford to fly into, let alone stay in, the Inner Delta we were able to take a two-day Mokoro trip along the Boro river in the Eastern Delta. The scenery here is probably more Norfolk Broads than classic Okavango Delta but it was quite pleasant meandering through the reeds in the mokoro (traditional canoe dug-out of sausage tree wood) being propelled by the poler standing at the back. We spotted the odd hippo and elephant during a game ‘cruise’ and listened to the baboons and abundant bird life. We also encountered zebra, wildebeest, giraffes and various types of antelope (including the red lechwe, endemic to the region) on a walking safari. All in all however I did not feel that the trip was great value, it was still quite expensive and anywhere else in the world would probably be unacceptable. However, the only other option for backpackers to see any of the delta is to hang around the airport and wait for standby seats on the scenic flights, but this is too much a hit-and-miss option and doesn’t get you up close and personal to the wildlife. It would however protect you from the squillions of flying insects that spend the whole mokoro journeys trying to insert themselves in your ears, nostrils or any other orifice they can access!

Someone told us they thought Botswanans are the laziest people in Africa. Whilst I could not make such a statement it is true that they are so laid-back they are almost horizontal! In most countries in the world on arrival at a bus station you would be met by several guys all trying to get you and your luggage onto a bus, even in Indonesia they can manage this, where the scent of tourist dollars outweighs their innate laziness! Here on arrival no-one stirs, they all sit in the minibus, we even had to open the door ourselves! Heaven forbid trying to travel with your backpacks, they will tell you to take the next bus. Sometimes the drivers are too lazy even to stop, I cannot imagine another country in this part of the world where a half-empty bus would fail to stop to pick up passengers! Possibly the most frustrating example is asking anybody a question, especially directions. I am sure my beard grew an inch or so just waiting for the answer, often just a couple of words and a brief hand signal!

Independent travel in Botswana is expensive but possible, food and park entry fees are relatively cheap and transport, once you can find it, is not unreasonably priced. Camping is slightly more expensive than in neighbouring countries but is easy to find. The problem is the price of any organised tour or activity blows all other costs away, but who would come to Botswana and not visit the Okavango Delta, let alone Chobe National Park (which is fairly cheap to visit) or the salt pans?


Zasilame pozdravy vsem tentokrat uz z Namibie,

Tak trocha Botswany. Botswana je ohromna zeme v jizni Africe s jen 1,6 milionovou populaci. Byla jednou z nejchudsich zemi sveta, dokud nenasli diamanty, jen nekolik let po sve nezavislosti. A penize sly dobrym smerem a to na zdravotnictvi a skolstvi, kam penize vetsinou nejdou v Africe a jsou nejvic potreba. A hlavne penize neskoncili v kapsach politiku, jak to vetsinou byva a to ne jen v Africe. No a tak Botswana je vyjimkou a ekonomika je jednou z nejrychleji stopupajicich za poslednich 40 let.
Je to zeme vyspela a turismus je tu na vysoke urovni. Vetsina ubytovani se pohybuje okolo 6000 kc na noc na osobu. Neni to moc pro batuzkare a s nizkym rozpoctem, ale presto jsme se pokusili. Snaha je mene turistu s vice financema. Mistni doprava moc nefunguje, neni dostatek lidi, aby se autobusy vyplatili, hodne lidi ma auto a zbytek stopuje.
Ale tak trochu nam chybela v Botswane takova opravdova Afika, nejakej zivot v ulicich, prazdny autobusaky a nikdo se jen tak nezacne bavit na ulci.

Zacali jsme v Kasane, na hranicich se ani nepodivali jakej mam pas a malem tam dal razitko na 30dni, tak jsem ho musela upozornit, ze mam viza a ze jsem stravila tyden a hodne penez, abych tyhle viza dostala, ale on ani nemel paru, kde Ceska republika je.
Museli jsme mit zarezervovany ubytovani, ale jak jsme zjistili, tak ten kemp, co sme si zarezervovali, jeste vubec neexistuje a bude otevreny az pristi rok, tak jsme skoncili v kempu s podobnym jmenem. Kemp byl plny jihoafrickych rodin, kteri meli uplne vsechno a proti nam takovy trochu cyber kempari a nas hrozne litovli, jaky jsme chudaci bez auta a musime to vsechno nosit na zadech.
Na odpoledni projizdku na lodce jsme vyrazili do Chobe N.P., znamy svou 120 000 populaci slonu. A bylo to krasny, vsechny zvirata prisli na vecer pit k rece a bylo skvely to videt z reky. Par hrochu se tam rochnilo, ke krokodlum jsme si zajeli asi na 2 metry daleko, zirafa se prisla napit a sloni se rozhodovali jestli preplavou reku.

Pak uz ns cekalo stopovani do Naty, stopem tu jezdi hodne mistnich a tak nas tam bylo asi 30 lidi a vetsinou se za stopa plati, stopovat se muze jen na urcitych mistech, kvuli slonum, kteri se jen tam promenadujou po silnicich a muze to byt nebezpecny. Nakonec jsme skoncili v minibusu s 20 ti jeptiskama az do Naty a odtamtud jeden autobus preci jel a vzal nas asi 100km do Quety, kde je uprostre niceho 17 baobab stromu a pod nima neuveritelne krasnej kemp.

A je to nedaleko od solnych panvi, protoze se nam nechtelo platit tolik penez za organzovany vylet, tak nam pak majitel nabidl cenu jednoho za oba, protoze uz mel nejaky lidi a takova nabidka se neodmita. Takze jsme vyrazili s dvouma holandanama na vylet a tam jsme si pujcili 4koly motorkary a zaridili jsme si do prosted solnych panv a po ceste zpet jsme navstivili meerkats family (nevim jak se jmenujou tyhle roztomily zviratka cesky).

V Maunu jsme zakotvili na par dni a trochu prozkoumali znamou Okawango Deltu, z letadla by mozna byl lepsi vyhled, ale mi jsme si vybrali Mokoro lodku (lodka vytesana z kmene) a 2dny jsme se prodirali rakosim ve vychodni delte a kempovali jsme na nejakym osruvku uprosted niceho. Zajimavy to bylo, az na ten vsechen hmyz, kterym hrozne chutnal nas krem na opalovani.

Taky jsme oslavili Allanovu tricitku a odpocivali jsme par dni u reky v prijemnym hostelu Stary Most.

Z Botswany do Namibie to bylo asi 500km a zadna verejna doprava, takze rano na stopa, prvnich 100km za prispevek na benzin, dalsich 200km na korbe zadara, autobusem na hranice a jeste pred 6 odpoledne nam zastavil nakladak az do Winhoeku. Takze jsme tech 850 km zvladli za den, ale bylo to docela narocny a rozhodli jsme se, ze si v Namibii pujcime auto na par dni, protoze stopem do pouste, to bysme tam mohli stat tyden a v Namibii je jeste mene lidi nez v Botswane a to si ani neumim predstavit.
Botswana byla pro nas uplne mrtva zeme, nikdo nikde, nic se nedeje...

zdravi monika a allan

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Bottom Billion

Who wants to be a billionaire?

In Livingstone you will be met on every corner by guys selling worthless Zimbabwean dollars as souvenirs. Why? Because they are in denominations from 500 milion to 5 billion to 100 trillion dollars, due to the incredible, uncontrolled inflation they endured in recent years. The row of zero's covers the entire length of the note. Now of course they are n longer in circulation, at least not for foreign visitors, Mugabe preferring them to spend hard currencies like South African Rand or US dollars to fill his coffers.

On a serious 'note' this is just another sad example of how Zimbabwe went from being the bread basket of Africa to its basket case in just a few years. The atrocities Mugabe and his cronies have committed on their own people, both white and black, have crippled the entire country, destroying the lives of millions, but at all times improving the bank balances of the select few.

Zimbabwe is the first country in our path that we have avoided. OK, we didn't visit Eritrea and Djibouti or Rwanda and Burundi but visiting any of these countries would have required a slight detour. Why avoid Zimbabwe? The answer is above, simply because of the government. Many people have pointed out to us that we have visited, and would visit again, countries such as Burma and China, countries with equally evil leaders that we openly despise. I never said or morals were consistent! Perhaps what makes Zimbabwe worse for us is that Mugabe still claims (and might actually believe) that he is doing the best for the country, and that the Western world, and closer to home Morgan Tsvangerai and the MDC, are the evil ones trying to ruin his country. The governments of those other countries do not bother to make such claims. Mugabe even sends Tsvangerai out on donor gaining missions because he believes that the MDC is responsible for the sanctions in the first lace, rather than admit that the sanctions are there for a reason! The argument is that the people need tourism money more than ever, and again this is true in Burma for instance, but for me this is not a good enough reason to visit. OK my money may have helped, but by now the people of Zimbabwe could be helping themselves. Its a sad fact that the countries that most need help from the Western powers will never be treated the same as Iraq or Afghanistan because there is nothing (i.e. no oil) there for the US, UK etc to take in return for military incursions.

A second, less important reason is that across African borders history and culture do not change as much as they do across borders in other continents. This is because Africa was carved up by European leaders who had never set foot there. Often you witness a much stronger change from region to region rather than across the political boundaries. Therefore there needs to be a good reason to visit. Zimbabwe used to be a very popular destination but it seems nowadays Zambia and Malawi have taken the tourists and offer similar attractions to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe however seems to be coming back into vogue, many backpackers seem to be heading that way, changing plans as the news travels along the thorn tree. However when I have asked these guys why we should go there the answers have included the following:
"Just to be in Zimbabwe", "Being the only tourist in a country", "It's the cool, new place to be" and "Just to see it". Unfortunately none of these reasons satisfy our curiosity so we headed to Botswana instead. But not before becoming trillionaires!

Bread and BlueBand

Some of you may remember BlueBand, the Unilever brand of margarine. It was popular in the UK in the days before people cared about both taste and nutrition, when all that mattered was filling the stomach. Blue Band is a margarine that is so 'natural' it does not even need to be refrigerated. With a consistency roughly similar to wax it is arguably even more tasteless and useless than other such spreads as Flora and "I can't believe its not artificial!".

Whilst it has disappeared from the shelves in the UK it is stil very strong over here in Africa, advising parents that the vitamins and fats help their children to grow, it does not state whether outwards or upwards however! The advertising campaigns would be amusing were they not so scary, like a less evil version of Nestles babymilk campaign. The strongest advertising campaign runs with the slogan "Theres no B without BB". They even advertise in schools, through 'storytelling' sessions in class about Captain BlueBand. These became so popular there is now a BlueBand computer game. Really, this is not a joke!

BlueBand is present in every small village across most of East and Southern Africa and they even sell it in small sachets so you can still use it on the road! It is so much a part of the diet here that menus even use the brand name as a description, for example instead of writing 'chapati/bread and butter' you will see 'chapati/bread and BlueBand". Sad.

What is even sadder is that after a while we have actually gotten used to the taste. Many of you will know that at home I only eat proper best butter and silver top (full fat) milk. If I was worried about my weight I am sure there would be a hundred other things that I was eating or drinking that have more an effect than the difference between proper butter and some tasteless spread. As for milk, if I have to use semi-skimmed in tea or coffee then I end up using twice as much, which defeats the object! So I am quite disgusted when I find myself slathering thick wads of BlueBand over my scone!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Vcera jsme opustili Zambii a uz se mi stejzka, trochu skoda, ze jsme neprozkoumali vic koutu tyhle krasny zeme. Kdyz jsme prejeli hranice z Malawi, tak se toho vlastne moc nezmenilo, jazyk v okoli Chipaty je velice podobny a lidi stejne pratelsti a mili. Ale po dlouhy dobe vsechno vypadalo tak tradicne africky, krasny hlineny pomalovany domky s travnatyma strechama, zadny beton a plech.
Ani jsme necekali, ze se dostanem jeste ten samy den do Mfuwe, South Luangwa Narodni Park, ale meli jsme stesti, minibus se plnil od rana a odjel az v 5 odpoledne, my jsme stravili cekanim v zaparenym minibusu jenom 4 hodiny a kdyz jsme byli uplne nacpany, tak se vyrazilo. Jenom asi 4 hodiny jizdy, ale strasne boulovata prasna jizda. Stan jsme postavili u reky v kempu jmenem Udoli krokodylu a jak stavime stan, tak se po kempu prochazi slon a hrosi chrochtaji par metru od nas, ale pan majitel nas uklidnil, ze za 25 let, co tam ten kemp je, tak se nikdy nic nestalo a pokud nevylezes v noci ze stanu, tak by se ti nic stat nemelo. To se opakovalo kazdou noc, trochu divnej pocit:):) A prej leopard chodi obcas pit z bazenu. Kemp mel krasnou travu a tak se tam v noci chodila past zver z parku, kterej byl jen pres reku. Takze clovek ani nemusel jit do parku videt vsechnu tu divocinu, ona se prisla podivat za nama. Ale presto jsme do parku vyrazili na odpoledni 4 hodinovou projizdku, park je znamy velkym mnozstvim leopardu a leoparda jsme videli jen jednou v Serengeti a ten z nas byl pekne otravenej. A opravdu jsme videli leoparda po lovu, oni si korist vzdycky vytahnou na strom, kde si to muzou v klidu sezrat, ale tenhle to nestihl, protoze mu to ukradla hyena, hyeny akorat cekaj, az nekdo neco ulovi a pak mu to ukradnou, hrozny mrchy ty hyeny!! No a on se bal si tu impalu vzit zpet, parkrat se o to pokusil, ale hyena ho vzdycky zahnala.

A dalsi kousek, cela lvi rodinka, 11lvu najednou, prej pred par dnemi zabili 3 buvoly a tak vsichni vypadali docela line a prezrane.

Jizda zpet do Chipaty byl dobrej zazitek, domluvili jsme se s ridicem minibusu, ze nas vyznedne v 9 vecer, z kempu do vesnice se nedalo jit pesky, protoze tam byla vseljaka zver a majitel kempu nechtel, aby nas vyzvedavali az ve 3 rano, ze vzbudi hosty. Tak jsme vyrazili v 9 do vesnice, prvni pivko s ridicem v mistni hospode, byla sobota a tak jsme se presunuli do nocniho klubu, pak jsme v dalsi hospode koukali na fotbal, byla sranda, ale kdyz ridic mel uz 5.pivko a stipac listku byl uplne zkourenej, tak jsme zacali byt tak trochu nervozni, jestli vubec pojedem, jeli jsme vyzvednout par pasanzeru asi v 1 rano, pak 2 hodinky spanku na parkovisti a ve 3 rano jsme pokracovali nabirat dalsich par lidi a do Chipaty. Ridic to dal, tech pivek mel urcite mnohem vic a my jsme to prezili. V Chipate uz byl autobus do Lusaky, byla nedele a tak to zabralo asi 4 hodinky ho naplnit a byl to pomerne luxusni autobus, uz ani nepamatuju, kdy jsme naposledy jeli takovymhle peknym autobusem a kazdej mel svoji sedacku!
V Lusace toho moc zajimavyho neni, ale ja jsem musela zazadat o viza do Botswany, uz jsem byla pripravena, ze to nebude zadnej med. Na ambasadu jsme sli spolecne s polakem Alexem, kteryho jsme potkali v autobuse a tomu rekli, ze uz ani polaci nepotrebujou viza, skoro zadne zeme evropske unie viza nepotrebujou, tak nechapu proc my je potrebujem. No rekli mi, ze to 75$ a bude to trvat -7+ dni a jsou i pripady, kdy to trvalo 2 mesice, potrebovali rezervace hotelu a letenku z Botswany a pokud mi viza zamitnou, tech 75$ mi nevratej. Pak jsem sla na pohovor k nejakymu chytrolinovi do kancelare, byl to docela idiot, ale nastesti mel dobrou naladu a rekl mi, ze si je muzu vyzvednout za 5 dni. Mezitim jsem zazadala o viza do Namibie, ty probehli bez problemu a tak jsme cely tyden pendlovali mezi ambasadama. Opravdu v patek byli viza hotovy a tak jsme mohli vyrazit do Livingstonu na Viktoriny vodopady. A museli jsme zacit trochu planovat, ne ze moje viza do Botswany jsou jen na 14 dni, ale do Namibie musim vztoupit do 20dni, od datumu, kdy jsem je dostala.
Livingstone je ne moc africky vypadajici mesto a hlavni atrakci jsou vodopady, je obdobi sucha a tak tam neni tolik vody, ale zas je dobry, ze je mozny jit po vrchu vodopadu a to je dobrej pocit.

Prej mnohem lepsi vyhled je ze starny Zimbabwe, ale to bysme potrebovali viza a na jeden den 50$, do toho se nam moc nechtelo.
Vsechny kempy a hostely v Livingstone maji bazeny a kuchyne a bary a vsechno mozny a o vikendech je tam zivo, hromady mladejch anglanu co si prijedou skocit bungee jumping a pak jdou kalit.

Jinak jidlo v Zambii nebylo nic uzasnyho, Nsima- kejda z kukuricny mouky bez chuti s kuretem, jinak jenom hronolky s klobasou a nebo fast food, vetsinou jsme si varili, zeleninu z trziste a ryzi. V Zambii je nejdrazsi benzin zatim v Africe skoro 30Kc za litr a tim padem je vsechno drazsi a nechapu jak si mistni lidi muzou neco dovolit.

Below the (Copper)belt

Arriving in Zambia we received a very friendly welcome. After reaching the town of Chipata we waited for the minibus to South Luangwa National Park to leave. Whilst waiting we had a chance to try some Zambian foods, namely ‘African Polony’ (a luncheon meat type snack mixed with mashed peanuts) and a re-introduction of Chips Mayai – the Swahili dish of chips cooked in an omelette!

By the time the minibus left it was almost dark and the road to Mfuwe being in very bad condition it made the ride quite nerve-wracking, especially when we hit a pile of rocks that had been placed in the road by some villagers. We arrived at Croc Valley camp quite late, only to find an elephant wandering through the campsite! This was just the introduction, over the next few nights we were regularly visited by hippos, elephants and even crocodiles, wandering around outside our tent, which was pitched just on top of a ridge overlooking the Zambezi river. There was also a leopard that regularly came to drink from the pool, although we never saw it.

We took one game drive into South Luangwa NP. It started off quite disappointingly until we witnessed a leopard and a hyena fighting over a dead impala and then a pride of sixteen lions holding traffic up on one of the main tracks. We had a cup of tea by a stretch of the river teeming with more hippos and crocs before returning to the relative safety of the camp, in the end it was probably worth the money!

Leaving Mfuwe, the town at the park gate, was even more difficult than getting there. Because the minibus leaves around 3am, in order to get to Chipata for the buses to Lusaka and Lilongwe, we had to leave the campsite at 9pm. Like many places in Africa it is unsafe to walk around at night, but here the danger is from lions, hippos and elephants rather than muggers! We were treated to a tour of the various pubs and clubs by the minibus driver and conductor before grabbing an hour or so of sleep in the bus.

The Lonely Planet states that it is better to fly around Zambia than take the bus. Clearly the researchers have never been to East Africa, or worse, Ethiopia. The buses in Zambia are on a par with those in most European companies and the roads mostly in very good condition, with the exception of the road from Chipata to Mfuwe!

We found Zambians to be very friendly and welcoming, similar in this respect to Malawians. The main difference we noticed about Zambians is their awareness of current affairs, both within Zambia and in the rest of the world. It was very easy to have a conversation with a guy in a bus station selling hats or lollipops about politics, something that would never happen in most African countries.

So, we arrived in Lusaka anticipating a long stay. Whilst Brits do not require visas to enter Botswana or Namibia, Czech citizens do, and the Botswana application in particular is notorious for taking a long time, up to 2 months, and once the application has been submitted the payment is non-refundable. Luckily in the end we only had to wait 2 days for the Namibian visa, through virtue of being there on exactly the right day, had we come the next day it would have been a 6 day wait, and four days for the Botswanan visa, through virtue of sucking up to the ambassador and making some (very flexible) bookings to support our application.

Whilst there is not much in the way of sights, Lusaka is not such a bad place to be stuck for a week or so. There are many markets selling the usual fruit and veg, African fabrics and imported Chinese crap to while away some time and there is a 50m ‘Olympic pool’ that has been there since 1964, the changing rooms are showing their ages somewhat but the pool is immaculate. There are also two very modern shopping malls, where everything is available. My grandmother always told me the shops in Zambia were empty, here is proof of how things have changed over the years! We also felt very safe in Lusaka, it did not have the hard edge that many African capitals have. Although perhaps it was the time we were there as suggested in the Lonely Planet – “incidences of armed carjacking are on the rise in Lusaka, especially around Christmas and Easter.” What? Why? Is there some religious motivation?

Zambia’s President Banda is shaping up to be Africa’s next ‘big man’ – silencing the opposition, squandering aid money on the private excess of himself and his cronies and showing a total disregard for his own people. I found particularly amusing the way in which he insists that all donor money comes in the form of hard currency, not in projects or other forms which he could not exploit!

If we didn’t have to visit various embassies on 4 out of 5 days of the week we would have made a trip up to the Copperbelt (to Kitwe or Ndola), or to Lake Kariba or the Lower Zambezi National Park. As it was we spent the whole week in Lusaka and when we received the two visas were ready to press on towards Victoria Falls.

The main food in Zambia is Nshima, just as tasteless and lacking in nutrition as Malawian Nsima, but with an extra letter. Apart from this all that is available is fast food. Zambians live for chickenandchipssausageandchipspieandchips for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It is far tastier and healthier just to self-cater where possible.

We left for Livingstone on a Saturday so all the buses were full of weekenders, which is not suprising given its next door to one of the highlights of the world! On arrival we were met at the hostel by a sight more akin to Lanzarote than Livingstone! For some reason the Victoria Falls area, both on the Zambian and Zimbabwe side, has become one of the worlds extreme sports capitals, so the bars and hostels are full of gap-yearers discussing their bungee jumps or white-water experiences. Which was not so nice. We were happy to see Ruben (from Spain) arrive after a couple of days. We had met him in Lusaka just before he set off for Livingstone by bicycle, a journey of over 500km with no previous experience. We were worried about him and relieved to see that he made it!

We were slightly underwhelmed by Victoria Falls as it is now the dry season and the flow is much lower than just a few weeks ago, some say it is less than 5% of the highest flow. This also means that, eve though we visited during a full moon, there is no chance to see the lunar rainbow either. What we missed due to it being dry we gained in the fact that we could wade along the top of the falls, often less than three feet from the edge. It was quite treacherous in places so we paid a guy $4 to guide us through to Livingstone island and back again! Monika waded through comfortably but I was less composed, needing to grab the guides hand several times per minute!

Suddenly it was time for us to leave Zambia. No time to regret not making more detours we headed for the ferry crossing the Zambezi to take us to Botswana.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lake Of Stars

In Dark Star Safari Paul Theroux had an atrocious time crossing into Malawi from the Tanzanian city of Mbeya via the Songwe Bridge. Luckily we did not have any problems, other than the usual changing minibus three times during the journey! At the border they were pleased to see that Monika had actually done her homework and applied for a visa in advance, unlike an Austrian girl who was part of an overland tour that was crossing at the same time. What I found really annoying was the attitude of the tour leader who behaved really impolitely to the immigration officials, seemingly blaming them, even though they bent the rules to let her client through and it was her fault for overlooking this slightly major detail in the first place. Yet another reason to hate overland tours. And she was wearing a t-shirt with ‘Mzungu’ written on the front which just about took the biscuit!

Somehow we ended up taking a taxi the 300km to Nkhata Bay with a French guy called Gerard. We passed under Livingstonia, unsurprisingly Livingstones first mission, and stopped for lunch at the lakeside resort of Chitimba before pressing on. It was our first glance of Lake Malawi and it lived up to all the hype. Bright turquoise water stretching for miles, it was hard to believe it wasn’t the ocean.

Nkhata Bay is considered to be one of the nicest places on the lake, however we arrived after dark so our first real impression of Malawi came at breakfast the next day. Not a good start. The entire male population of the town seemed to be drunk, really paralytic, at 8:30am. OK, it is a fishing town and most of these guys had been out all night but still, not a pretty sight and the first time we had seen behaviour like this anywhere in Africa, although the previous night in Mbeya should of acted as a warning. Trying to put this spectacle out of my mind I immersed myself in the daily newspaper. There were three noteworthy stories inside. The first had the headlines “Dog found on roof. Witchcraft suspected. Woman taken to hospital”. The story of a woman who found a dog on her roof. Apparently it must have been a human that was turned into a dog because how else could it have got there? The presence of a low ledge on a neighbouring house offering easy access was dismissed. And why didn’t it bark when stones were thrown at it? Well, it must have been witchcraft then. This claim was further strengthened by the fact that the woman fainted and had to be taken to hospital! The second story involved a man who had been lynched for throwing dead....... chickens in a river. Apparently it is a ritual to throw ten dead chickens, some black ribbon and some sliced lemons into a river in south Malawi, in order to pacify some god or the other. The locals are annoyed at these actions as they claim that incidents of road accidents increase significantly on the days following this ritual. The final story was of a woman who gave birth to a stone. Worryingly a woman who had inserted a rather large rock into her vagina and claimed she was pregnant was able to pass all the hospital tests until her due date whereupon doctors were shocked to find the rock protruding. Of course she claimed her baby had been turned into a stone by witchcraft. The more serious reports asked how she was able to conceal this fact for 9 months, others wondered what she had done to deserve this hex!

We had enquired about the possibility of volunteer work in Malawi, in Nkhata Bay to be precise, but after this experience we started to have second thoughts. We had received a positive response to our emails but no specific details. When we enquired in town we were told that the British director had been deported for drug possession. We decided to spend some time on the islands of Chizimulu and Likoma instead. Would you volunteer yourself for a month in a town where all the guys are pissed and cannot help themselves and the organisation is headed by a deported drug addict?

The Ilala ferry is the only mode of transport between Nkhata Bay and the islands but it only passes through in that direction once a week. Since we had a few days to wait and we did not want to spend them in Nkhata Bay we decided to head up on to the Viphya Plateau to cool off whilst we waited.

I should add that we did have some good experiences in Nkhata Bay. The beach at Chikale is very nice and the welcome we received from the guys at Kupenja Lodge was extremely friendly, in fact they offered us free camping on our return to Nkhata Bay from Viphya!

Viphya Plateau is all above 2000m a.s.l and as we were camping it meant we had to wrap up warm at night. We stayed at Kasito Lodge, a beautiful old colonial house set in the forest. The area was very deserted and as we went for walks in the surrounding forest it felt like being back in Klanovice! It was incredibly quiet and serene, the perfect foil to the hustle of Nkhata Bay, and it allowed us to stop and catch our breath before descending back into the melee.

As the sector between Nkhata Bay and the islands is by far the busiest on the Ilala schedule we decided to splurge on first class deck tickets, which meant we got a bench to sit on close to the bar. Unfortunately the bar was full of fishermen who had probably been drinking since the morning, the alternative however was to squeeze into any vacant cubic inch of space down below, caught between a rock and a hard place! The ferry was so full they even left people behind. Trust me, no-one wants to be on any mode of transport in Africa when they decide it’s actually too full! When I had to descend to pop to the loo I am sure I crushed three babies’ heads and the ankles of two old women as I tried to hop, skip and jump my way through! The Ilala is an old Scottish steamer which was assembled on the lake and has been chugging up and down the lake from its home port of Monkey Bay via various stops until it turns around in the far north of the lake and returns by the same route. It has been in service now for 60 years and for about the past 5 years the government have been trying to put it out of service. It si true that nowadays it is faster to move around Malawi by road, even to cross between Malawi and Mozambique by road but for the people of Likoma and Chizimulu islands it is a lifeline, their only source of supplies.

In the middle of the night we arrived at Chizimulu island. There is no jetty so we were ferried ashore in the Ilala’s lifeboats. It felt like an horrific mixture of Titanic and Apocalypse Now as we squeezed and pushed to get off the ship and drop into the lifeboats, with small private canoes swarming around he ferry, just rows of white teeth floating in the moonlight. We fought to get off but several hours later, after a well earned beer and a short sleep in our tent, we awoke to see the Ilala disappearing around the corner, it had been sitting there, ferrying people and goods to and fro for over 6 hours!

Chizimulu is a very small island, about 3x5km are its largest dimensions with a population of just a couple of thousand. The interior has a very Mediterranean flavour with small fields of corn and clusters of silver birch. From the small hill that marks the islands highest point you can see a full panorama all the way to the crystal clear lake teeming with fish down below. For a closer look at the fish all that is needed is a mask and snorkel and time to adjust to snorkelling in fresh water, not salty, every time I got in it surprised me as I naturally anticipated a salty taste in my mouth. It is well worth it, they don’t call it ‘The Aquarium’ for nothing.

There is only one place to stay on Chizimulu, Wakwenda Retreat, A 15-year labour of love of an English guy called Nick. Unfortunately Nick was away on the mainland during our visit but it is obvious that all his time and effort has not been wasted, staying here makes campers feel like they are in a luxury spa! Luckily Nick had left the place in the capable hands of Peter and Astrid, a Norwegian couple who were doing a fine job in his absence. Spending time on Chizimulu cannot fail to be relaxing, apart from hiking up the hill, swimming or snorkelling and a spot of beach volleyball there is nothing much to do other than watch the sunset whilst listening to the washerwomen singing in lilting Chichewa by the lake.

We encountered more singing as we took a dhow across to the Likoma, the larger of the islands. The wind was slightly blowing and the gaggle of gospel singers onboard decided we might need a bit of divine intervention. Regardless of any spiritual involvement it did manage to calm my nerves at least.

Likoma is home to about 6000 people and is also the sight of a rather large Anglican cathedral. Some claim that it is the largest in Central Africa, whilst I doubt there is a larger one, it remains to be seen whether Malawi can be classed as part of Central Africa! Nevertheless we attended the Sunday service, which somehow ended with the entire congregation coming up to shake our hands. All I felt was embarrassment, and scorn at the misguided, mental missionaries who encouraged this kind of behaviour. Christianity in Africa is definitely not one of my favourite things!

After more relaxation by the lake it was time for the Ilala to arrive and whisk us further south. I had been dreading getting back on the ferry, trying to put it to the back of my mind the whole week but in the end it was not such a harrowing experience. The ferry was almost empty in fact so we were able to travel in comfort in 2nd class, even Economy, the lowest class, for a short sector. After 30 hours or so, several meals and a couple of beers and after stopping on both the Mozambican and Malawian sides of the lake we finally arrived in the home port of Monkey Bay. As it was after dark the captain invited us to spend the evening in a cabin, free of charge, until the morning!

We travelled in the back of a pick-up from Monkey Bay to Mangochi and from there in a bus to Blantyre. The bus TV was showing ‘Favourite Biblical Characters’ which only made the journey seem longer and longer. I didn’t think there was anything worse than African R’n’B videos ad infinitum, but apparently there is!

Blantyre is Malawi’s commercial centre and is a very developed city. It is nice enough but pretty faceless. We camped at one of the cities prime meeting places, Doogles, where the bar seems to fill nightly with South African expats and Malawian whores in equal measure, plus a smattering of backpackers!

We were only passing through on the way to Mount Mulanje, Malawi’s highest and our next destination. We embarked on a three day trek along with a Korean girl, Jinhyeon. Although our trek was mostly over 2500m we chose not to attempt the summit, whose name in Chichewa ‘Sapitwa’ means ‘don’t go’! We were put off by another newspaper article we read on arrival in Malawi regarding a Brazilian trekker, Gabriel Bushman, who got lost on his way to the summit and was found dead over two weeks later. Apparently he had wanted to reach the summit and back in a single day, a stupidly dangerous idea bearing in mind it takes 6 hours just to reach the base of Sapitwa, and had sent his guide back. This was not the first instance of foreign trekkers perishing on a summit push, a similar incident occurred a few years ago with a Dutch volunteer who had been working in the region. Despite these incidences being brought about by naivety we still preferred to stick to the lower paths, especially as the views and scenery were simply stunning and the weather perfect. The temperature plummeted at night but that made sitting by the fire in the mountain huts all the more enjoyable.

It surprised us just how expensive a country Malawi is to travel in. Throughout our whole stay the only nights that we did not spend in our tents were those on the mountain and the one night in the cabin on the Ilala, and sleeping in the mountain huts is basically the same as camping, even if it costs slightly more. Transport too is not cheap, working out at almost $3 per 100km. Food is really expensive, relative to the economy, even the cheapest local stalls charge upwards of $2 for a basic meal of nsima (similar to ugali, fufu or mealie meal) and relish. I am not sure how the locals survive. Strangely, despite being next to a massive lake fish was even hard to come by! On the way from the mountain we did pass a guy selling roasted mice on a stick, a local delicacy. Unfortunately we did not have time to try them! One item that is much cheaper than elsewhere is Macadamia nuts and we took the chance to stock up with packets of them! But apart from that I cannot see how the people can afford to eat. Maybe that’s why Malawian men turn to a liquid diet, the local motto seeming to be ‘Save water, drink beer’ proudly written on the outside of pubs. A small 35ml sachet of gin or other spirit in a shop costs less than 10 cents and a litre of Chibuku Shake-Shake (a local ‘beer’ not dissimilar to Tibetan Chang, tasting like a vinegar milkshake) costs just half a dollar. Chibuku is probably more nutritious than nsima as well!

And so we headed to Lilongwe, capital of Malawi, another entirely pleasant yet faceless city. Although both Lilongwe and Blantyre were nice enough it speaks volumes that I did not take a single photograph of either. One highlight was our choice of accommodation, Mabuya Camp, which is one of, if not THE, best place we have stayed so far. The camp ground is spacious and shaded, there is a pool surrounded by several BBQ’s, and a relaxing bar and lounge area. The staff were warm and friendly and nothing seemed to be too much trouble for them. Perhaps this is just a taste of what we can expect from Southern Africa?

This installment might seem less like an insight into the country and more simply a personal account of our journey and for that I apologise. Perhaps the reason is because even after over 3 weeks I have no clear impression of Malawi. The initial horror in Nkhata Bay was soon eclipsed by the serenity of Viphya and sheer beauty of the islands (definitely the highlight of Malawi), neither of these could be classed as representative of Malawi. Whilst stunning, Mount Mulanje could have been any mountain anywhere and that only leaves the big cities, and since when are they ever representative of the country as a whole? What I can say is that, in general, Malawians are the friendliest people we have met since Sudan. But is this as much a positive comment on Malawi or a realisation to the extent to which the other countries fell short? I mean, why shouldn’t people welcome visitors in this manner? The only negative aspect we encountered was in the drunken displays 24-7. We have been trying to ascertain whether we can expect this behaviour in other Southern African countries or whether it is purely a Malawian problem, no doubt stimulated but the prevalence of the fishing industry, lets wait and see.