Tue 18th Oct – Kuti Wildlife Reserve, Salima
Wed 19th & Thu 20th Oct – AirBnb, Lilongwe
Cape Maclear – Kuti Wildlife Reserve – 175km
Kuti WR – Lilongwe – 115km
Around Lilongwe – 27km
Lilongwe – Mchinji border post – 122km
Total km travelled from Nairobi, through Tanzania and Malawi: 5,287km
Our 2 nights at Alcon Cottages were spent SCUBA diving and catching up on Premier League action, where we soon learned that Kian’s Fantasy Football team is more successful than the team he actually supports! Our time on this great lake of Africa had come to a close and it was time to turn inland and start to get back into the life in the bush.
We eased ourselves into this, stopping at Kuti Wildlife Reserve (HOME | Kuti Malawi (kuti-malawi.org), a small, privately owned conservancy on the way back to Lilongwe. To get there, we drove through km after km of barren, dusty fields under the blazing sun, with farmers waiting for the rainy season to arrive so they can sow seeds. By contrast, on Kuti, the grass is tall and plentiful on the small plains that break up the shaded woodlands and there’s a large dam, which is a magnet for water birds, flitting amongst the reeds. Unfortunately, Kuti is an island surrounded by farmland but it gives one a picture of what the whole area must have once looked like.
There are no big predators on Kuti, so it’s perfectly safe for walking, cycling and horse riding – we did the first 2 but opted against giving John Wayne a run for his money. Their reserve acts as a breeding ground for antelopes and other grazers that are translocated to restock other parks in Malawi and this is where we got to see our first Sable, regal antelopes with long, ribbed horns that sweep over the heads. They eyed us up with more than a little suspicion as we cycled up to them, trying to keep our bikes balanced on the sandy tracks and we also saw eland, kudu, zebra and impala on our ride. Definitely not shy of humans is Charlie, the reserve’s donkey, who tried to barge his way into our riding party but then seemed most intent on trying to chew our bike seats. He then hung out with us through breakfast in the hope of finding some slightly tastier morsels.
Camp packed up again, we were soon heading to the bustling metropolis of Lilongwe, where we soon discovered there is very little to do. The primary reason for coming here was to get the car serviced and we were absolutely successful in that endeavor, with our trusty mechanics even able to repair our stereo system so Kian doesn’t have to listen to my singing and bad Dad jokes any more. In my minds’ eye I had thought that coming to the capital would give Kian a chance to do normal teeangery things, but we soon discovered there’s no cinema, bowling alley, go karting track or anything like that, so the only teenagery thing he got to do was sleep in late and catch up with his friends. We did find some decent eateries and we soon discovered that the Bombay Palace restaurant serves the most impressive poppadums this side of the Sahara! We were also able to catch up on Kian’s team playing football (soccer!) – who were beaten by Gillian’s team.
It’s time to say Zikomo (thank you) and Ndapita (I’m off) to Malawi and swap one bundle of Kwacha notes for another as we head into Zambia … destination South Luangwa National Park.