Summits: 1340

August 29 – October 13 » Africa Cycling: Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique

Cycling Africa has been on my bucket list for some time. This would be my 4th time on the continent and the previous trips have been some of my most memorable. I was joined by friend Jacob Kallman, who I’d met the previous year in China. Every day something extraordinary seemed to happen and there’s no way I could absorb it all. Here’s a rough itinerary and a few of the highlights:

 

August 29 -31: Lusaka (Zambia), and a hired car ride to Chipata. The car ride was more excitement than I really needed but I’ll never forget it, that’s for sure. Within a few hours of the drive, our driver (Mophy) swerved off the side of the road to avoid a truck that was changing lanes, then fishtailed back into traffic at 70mph, then regained control as I saw my life flash before my eyes. Twenty minutes later he pulls over to “see if it’s ok.” I thought he meant the car, but then the truck that caused us to swerve pulls over behind us, and the drivers start arguing as a dozen people gather around. I thought it was going to turn violent but eventually they calm down and we were on our way. Apparently it was important for the drivers to argue fault even though no accident occurred. Then Mophy hits and kills two baby goats in the middle of the road and acts like nothing happened. Then we get pulled over and our driver ends up handing over some money to the police. And finally after 7 hours we’re in Chipata…

September 1 -6: Cycle to South Luangwa National Park and back to Chipata. Two days by bicycle each way, then three days of camping and game drives at the park. The highlight of the park was a close sighting of a beautiful leopard. The cycling to and from the park was quite nice, and we learned about what its like to wild camp in Zambia (and similarly in Malawi), with company. We thought we had a stealth location but were quickly discovered, and soon had the local village as spectators. The local chief eventually made his way to our camp, very drunk but with good English. He hung out with us for a few hours, at one point sending someone to get a bottle of local gin to share with us. The chief shows us scars from a leopard attack he’d survived as a kid before leaving, but returned in the morning to make sure we were ok.

Septmber 7-9: Cycle to Lilongwe. The night of Sep 8th we somehow ended up camping in the courtyard of a seedy brothel in a tiny town, it’s a long story.

September 11-16: Cycle to Nkhata Bay. We had a beautiful stay at the Ntchisi Forest Lodge and eventually reached Lake Malawi, which we’d be near for the next few weeks. Its quite a large and beautiful lake. On the way to Ntchisi, Jacob had a crash and bent his rear wheel. Luckily we were able to bend it back enough to continue the trip. We had a few days rest in Nkhata Bay.

September 19 -21: Boat to Likoma Island, then boat to Mozambique. Likoma was a beautiful place to relax, we definitely could have stayed longer. We then hired a little fishing boat to take us to Mozambique, and we were dropped off illegally on the beach so the boat didn’t have to pay any fees. It was a little sketchy showing up at the immigration office when the officers knew there wasn’t any scheduled boat that day, but it ended up being fine after a few questions.

September 22 -27: Mozambique. We spent a few days on terrible roads and sandy single track before reaching Metangula, and then hopping on a truck to Lichinga. Mozambique was not a favorite or easy place to travel, and we ended up just hanging out in Lichinga for a few days before taking another truck to the border to cross back into Malawi.

September 28 -October 5: We cycled to Namizimu Forest, Monkey Bay, then Liwonde National Park, finally arriving in Blantyre. In Namizimu, we stayed in an old house in the forest with an awesome Irish/Iranian couple. In Liwonde, Jacob and I camped inside the park, and at one point we had to remain motionless in our tents as elephants were eating from the trees just 10 feet away.

October 8-13: Jacob flies home, I cycled to Mulanje for a 3-day trek of Malawi’s highest peak. I hired a guy named Steven as my guide and we became good friends, still in touch most days. After the trek, Steven invited me stay in his village, and we went out drinking in makeshift bars until very late. We drank and danced and had a hard time getting back to Stevens place, as it had been raining like crazy, and we were on a small motorcycle in the mud. Steven had me sleep in his house, which he had built himself with bricks and mud, no electricity or running water. I met Steven’s mom and we shared a papaya. I then made my way back to Blantyre where I packed my bike and flew out for the next chapter