Girls’ Forest Weekend

There is another Iowan in Malawi:  Jana, my brother‘s girlfriend, arrived on Saturday morning via Kenya Airways after a looooong flight from Iowa.  (She left Des Moines on Thursday evening.)  She came bearing gifts, including a much-coveted Cadbury creme egg and two (TWO) different types of tea.  Despite the seven-hour time difference, Jana took a shower and declared herself ready to see Malawi!  Though our schedule had been up in the air until the last minute, we decided to put my car to the test and  go for a little Ntchisi Forest adventure.  (For those of you keeping track at home, my car did survive, and has now officially been further off-road than most American SUVs.)  We picked up my friend Anna and headed off.

The trip takes about two hours – perhaps less if the car is not a sedan – and was full of the sights of Malawi.  On the main highway, we encountered the Gule Wamkulu, the Chewa secret society, who were apparently out in a display of support for John Tembo, the opposition party’s presidential candidate, as well as a large group of his supporters.  (Yes, ON the road.  They moved into the other lane for the car to pass.)  Once on the dirt road, we saw the normal array of bikes, goats, cattle, and small children waving vigorously and shouting, “azunguuuu!  azunguuuu!”   Shockingly, we also saw a ROAD GRADER, the first I have seen in Malawi.  He was working on a patch of road that had recently had a bridge repaired, I think, and was actually working on both Saturday and Sunday when we passed.  On the return trip, we rolled down the window and waved, and got a huge grin and a thumbs up in return.  With only a few scrapes of my car’s underside on the rocky and rutted road, we arrived at Ntchisi Forest Lodge in the mid-afternoon.  We had time to set up our tent and chill out for a while before going to Sunset Rock to, well, watch the sunset.

Amy and Jana

Amy and Jana pose on sunset rock

something here

The lovely Anna and the sunset

After a half-hearted game of South African Trivial Pursuit (no one could get the sports questions), we had a delicious 3-course dinner.  Once again, the meal lived up to its reputation as “the best food in Malawi.”  We had tea by the fire, gazed at the stars, played two games of Scrabble, and retired to our tent by 10.

On Sunday morning, we headed out on a hike through the rain forest.  As we are now coming into the dry season, the forest seemed a little less lush than  the last time I was in Ntchisi.  We stopped at one point to look out over the hills of Malawi:


Malawi's rolling hills


Trekking through the grasslands

We finished the rain forest loop fairly quickly, and decided we had a little more time before we needed to return for lunch.  We tried another path – the yellow trail.  Unfortunately, the map did not display topography, and we found ourselves going up and down very steep ravines.  Though this photo does not accurately capture the grade of the trail, suffice it to say that Jana is actually sliding all the way down in the position pictured here.


Going DOWNhill

After significant confusion about the map and which unmarked trail led back to the lodge, we made it:  just in time for a delicious lunch!  After, we packed up and headed out.  The return trip was relatively uneventful, though we did see another great Malawian roadside vendor – the mice-on-a-stick man.  We couldn’t convince Jana to try this Malawian delicacy; the mice are somehow flattened and cooked, fur and all, before being speared with their other mousey friends and waved at passing cars.

Jana and I have spent a quiet evening catching up on stuff here before our early morning departure for Liwonde National Park.  Expect hippos and elephants, as well as a report on the Malawian presidential elections, in the next post!


Bonus photo from the trail: Fun purple flower with bright green bugs


2 Responses to “Girls’ Forest Weekend”

  1. Kaitlin Says:

    Looks fabulous!

  2. Rachel Says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun!

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