Below are a random assortment of photos that missed going with their original posts:
Today there is 124 km to ride, with 1720 of climbing and 990 down.
There is quite a steep climb out of camp which I decided not to do and rode the lunch truck to lunch at 60 km.
As I am over the gastro, I am able to help preparing lunch so I spent awhile doing this before leaving to ride the last 64 km.
I had filled up my water bottles before I left but it was very hot and there was a lot of climbing and I ran out of water. I stopped at what looked like a shop, but it was a bar with the option of gin or coffee, neither of which were a good option. I rode for another couple of km and thankfully Tallis came past and filled up both of my water bottles for me.
Same as every day, mostly friendly locals, and smiling and waving small children.
Once again we are staying on a school field. It is very hot and dry putting up the tents. The children are very well behaved standing and watching with great interest but not pushing and demanding.
After I had put up the tents I got out a couple of skipping ropes that I had bought and gave them to the children. I had to demonstrate what to do but they picked it up very quickly. One of the school teachers – Elisabeth – came over to see what the story on the ropes was – whether they were just a loan for a few hours, but I assured her they were for the school to keep. The children were so pleased with them I wished I had bought more.
No showers but there are toilets (the hole in the ground type). Dinner was Vegetarian Cottage pie, which was really nice.
Camp is nice and quiet, and there are not many bugs about.
Today there is 171 km to ride, with 1410 to climb and 1990 down.
I am still getting the asthma under control so am not planning to ride the whole day.
The bike ride to lunch at 95 km went pretty quickly so I decided to keep on riding after lunch until the lunch truck came past. From lunch the next 20 km were pretty hilly and it was very hot. Then there was a great downhill which I was 5 km into when the lunch truck came past. I decided that even though I was feeling good I would still get in, as the aim is to be fully recovered before the next set of riding days. As it turned out the downhill continued most of the way to camp.
On the steep and windy downhills there were a few crashed trucks, plus evidence of places where there had been crashes.
Instead of going straight to camp I went with Lulu and Jen (TDA) into the town and to the market where we bought potatoes, tomatoes and bananas. There was only one seller of potatoes but a number who were selling tomatoes and bananas, and I wondered how this was going work.
Lulu counted the number of sellers. got an agreed price and bought the same amount from each (which comes to a lot for 53 people!). Then across the road for 15 loaves of bread.
The camp has a beautiful view of the Luangwa river. Over the other side of the river is Mozambique.
It is very hot and humid at camp and lots of mosquito, flies, and other bugs.
The camp does have run down chalets, with stained beds and ripped plastic on windows, with bug screens broken and so badly maintained that not a single rider thought they were a better option than the tent. There were hot showers which was great. Although with only four there was of course a queue.
Up at the bar was a pool which badly needed a paint, a clean, and a change of water. A few of the riders did go swimming in it.
Dinner was pumpkin curry, it was very nice, with a bit of spice.
There was also carrot cake for Ashleigh’s birthday. Turned out it was a day early, his birthday is tomorrow. Ashleigh is from England and is 28 tomorrow. He is a geologist and it’s his first TDA trip.
Today we have 176 km with 1,300 climbing and 1,340 down. I am taking the truck to lunch at 95 km and then riding from there.
When we got to the lunch spot I couldn’t help set up due to the gastro, so I set off riding at 8:30 am. It’s really windy to start off with, but luckily it changes from a head wind to a cross wind. I stopped at the first small town and spent 45 min getting signed up for a SIM card.
It’s weird being the first rider as locals are not expecting you and are surprised, and also don’t realize you are part of quite a large group. When you are a rider towards the end, they are not surprised to see another rider. I got some inappropriate comments and attention from groups of young men, as with my helmet and sun glasses on you can’t tell my age – I am sure they would be mortified to find out I was old enough to be their grandmother! I just ignore it and keep riding.
It was pretty easy riding and the road had nice wide shoulders to ride on, which is a nice change.
The locals, especially the children, mostly friendly and I enjoyed the ride apart from “chicken mile” and the last few km. “Chicken mile” was where the locals had chicken bound by their feet, and as you rode near them they would shake the poor birds at you, trying to get you to buy them. The was a couple of kilometers of this, with the odd bird croaking and squawking. I did consider buying one bird who was squawking loudly, but I figured they would just catch it straight away again when I let it go.
At the end of the ride, about 5 km from camp some children started rushing out trying to grab the bike, which was pretty frightening, especially when going downhill fast. Then a couple of kms from camp a group of 5 teenage boys rushed out at me and one of them slapped me really hard on my arm. I kept riding as I thought it wouldn’t be a good idea to stop and have a go at them.
It was only 12:30 by the time I got to camp.
We are staying in the grounds of a lodge and I was able to upgrade from a tent to a chalet for the night. However, turns out the mosquito net has large holes and the netting on the windows also has holes. Will need to plaster myself with bug stuff.
I have noticed that at all the places we have stayed they don’t appear to have any maintenance done at all.
Dinner is white pasta, tomato and cucumber salad and vegetarian.
(Editor’s note: The email ends here, so I don’t know what it was – vegetarian sausages maybe?)
Today we start another 5 day riding stretch. Today we have 150.2 km of riding, with about an equal amount of climbing: 941 km up and down 976. We also have a border crossing today into Zambia.
Tallis told us at the riders meeting this morning that we aren’t to get new SIM cards before coming to camp, that when we have got to camp we can ride back into town to get them. Given that it’s about 7 km each way from the camp that’s not a great option. I disagree with his reasoning, as without a SIM card we can’t ring any TDA staff if we run into problems, but also don’t want to go against his directive.
I have gastro again and am still having lots of problems with asthma so have made the decision to ride half days for the next few days and get on top of both conditions.
I rode 80 km to lunch which was pretty easy riding, once out of the chaos of town. Once again lots of smiling and waving children along the way. There were local woman smiling and waving and some holding their small children up to see us better.
There was a huge group of children watching at lunch, getting closer and closer to the lunch truck when you weren’t looking at them. Lulu (TDA lunch truck driver) got fed up with them when the truck was getting packed up and threw a toy snake out, which made them scatter but only for a few seconds. Lulu kept asking them why they weren’t at school but I guess we were more interesting.
The border crossing was at 122km. I got a double entry visa for Zambia so we can to go Zimbabwe for the day from Livingston and visit Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side.
The camp, as well as being out of town, is 2 km up a dirt track. The campsite is called Mama Rules and is owned and run by a South African woman.
Dinner was Maize (which is made from corn, which I didn’t like), beans and veggie sausages with homemade tomato sauce.
The place had a great looking bar with cold drinks but wasted on me as I am staying with water. However other riders made good use of it and it was very noisy until after 10pm.
No SIM card so I can’t message the family, hopefully I will get one tomorrow.
Today is my granddaughter Lucy’s 6th birthday. The internet here is very poor and not strong enough to make a messenger call, but I have been able to send a message to her.
The gastro seems to have settled, but I still have an annoying asthmatic cough.
The breakfast service is really slow. Not only are there all the TDA riders but there are other tour groups there as well. We can’t even get a cup of tea while we are waiting as there are not enough cups for everyone.
A number of people are complaining that they have been waiting for nearly an hour for their meal. We must have struck it at the right time, or maybe it helped that I just had toast, as mine arrived quickly.
The camp we are staying at takes Visa so I tried to pay using this but the machine wasn’t working, apparently it hasn’t been working all week. The bill is 48,000 (which is about 40 NZ) so I will need to get money in town.
The town is a 15 minute walk, and Shirley and Dan come with us. It is very hot with lots of traffic and people trying to sell us things, and beggars including those missing limbs or blind.
Like in some of the countries in South America the beggars are in the middle of the road trying to get the people in cars to give them money. Plus people are in the road trying to sell a range of products (shoes, belts, clothes , food, drink), it’s chaos with vans darting in and out.
We went to one bank, all the machines had run out of money. We went to another and there was a huge queue so we kept looking. We accidentally ended up in a market and escaped with great difficulty from the vendors who wanted to sell us paintings, carvings, shoes, food etc.
Some of the stuff looked great but I have no space in my bags for anything else. Plus, I am sure if you buy anything at all the other vendors would increase their efforts.
We found a bank over the road that had money, but the daily limit is 80,000. Next step the supermarket to get supplies (soap, shampoo etc.). There was no sunscreen that was a brand I knew, so I went to a couple of pharmacies until I found one I knew. I also got some tonic to take back to camp as I would like to try a Malawi gin.
We had pizza for lunch with Brett, Shirley and Dan. The place was a combination of 3 shops in one area. There was an ice cream parlor, a fried chicken (had just opened and 45 min wait) and pizza. The eating area had a basin to wash hands which was a nice touch. We saw at least half of the TDA riders also eating there.
When I got back to camp I got an internet voucher so I could send photos and blogs to Kelly but the voucher would not work on either of our phones or the IPAD, very frustrating something to do with the security setting! I was able to send emails by hot-spotting my iPad to my iPhone but it wasn’t strong enough to send photos.
Around 4pm we decided it was time to try a gin. The place now has no gin but is getting some!
I spent a couple of hours on emails and the blog and packing ready for tomorrow. The washing which I had put in as soon as I arrived yesterday (about mid-day) finally arrived done at about 4:30pm.
Before dinner we went to ask about the gin. So the place now has gin, and we both have tonic, but now they have no glasses! They apparently only have 4 glasses and they are all being used! We thought “We can solve that!” – we went and washed a couple of TDA cups. Mission accomplished.
The restaurant makes two courses at night, one vegetarian and one meat dish. Tonight is chicken Alaska or vegetable stew. I chose the chicken.
There was once again a long wait for dinner. Contributed to by the fact that even though the restaurant starts serving at 6pm they didn’t start even cooking the pasta until after we got there which was already after 6.
I was in my tent by 7:15pm no gastro today, so fingers crossed it was short lived. Possibly a result of taking doxycycline daily for Malaria. I started probiotics yesterday which should help.
Today we have 130 k to ride with approx. 890 meters of climbing and 860 metres of descent.
I am having some trouble with asthma which is unusual for me so I have doubled the preventer. I also have had gastro since last night. When I woke up I felt ok but after breakfast I vomited and had another bout of gastro, so into the truck for me.
Went through a couple of towns and they have street cleaners sweeping the paths, wearing masks. We also passed a road crew fixing pot holes with no equipment, but one hand pick which one guy was chipping away with, while 8 others looked on. I guess they take it in turns.
As well as no big equipment to fix the roads I also haven’t seen any farm equipment, including no tractors. There are lots of oxen pulling carts and in the streets, and hoes in the fields. Plus bikes piled high and woman walking with wood, buckets and material on their heads.
Wolfgang from Germany is in the truck with me, he fell a week or so ago and has a badly infected knee. It’s Wolfgang’s first TDA ride but he has done numerous other self-supported rides. Wolfgang is retired and spends 3 months each year on a self-supported ride, and 3 months working on a farm, and the other six months’ home with his wife.
At the lunch stop we had the normal cluster of children watching. A couple of girls aged about 9 had babies on their back, one of the babies about 12-15 months old had dreadlocks.
Coming into Lilongwe it gets busier and busier, and in contrast to what we have seen so far there is a lot of wealth around.
I wanted to get a room at camp as I was not wanting to be in a tent for a rest day, especially with gastro, however the only option left is a room with just a bed and no toilet, and looks like it will be very hot as no fan, so the tent it is.
I hadn’t eaten lunch and by 2:30 was getting quite hungry, so we went to the camp restaurant. To order anything you first have to go to the main office, order and then take the voucher to the restaurant. The service is very slow. There were limited options and I decided to have a burger which came eventually.
After lunch I had a sleep and didn’t get up until 7pm. At this stage it was almost too late for Brett to get dinner as they had nearly shut. I could still feel the burger sitting in my stomach so decided not to eat anything.
At the bar I didn’t feel like beer or wine, so thought I would try a Malawi gin but the bar had no tonic and I didn’t feel like lemonade, so I stuck to water.
I didn’t realize that I had put my tent by the road as I couldn’t see outside the fence, so I couldn’t get too sleep as there was lots of noise of traffic and people going by.
I am hot, sticky, tired, feeling grumpy, and homesick, and wondering exactly why is was that I wanted to do this!
Some info on Malawi: the population in Malawi is 18.6 million with 40% of the population 15 or younger. Teenage pregnancy rate is 29%. 50.7% of the population live below the poverty line, with 25% living in extreme poverty.
Today was a shorter day with 108 km to ride with 500 metres to climb up, and 900 down. The directions were basically turn right out of camp then turn left at 105 km and then stop at 108km. Much easier than the pages of notes with the Pub and Odyssey rides.
There were children around by 5:15am already, quietly watching us pack up.
It is much cooler this morning and I am wearing arm warmers. It is nice to have a shorter day after yesterday. I was at lunch at 61 km by 930am, into camp at 1130 am. Today lots of children demanding money.
The view is pretty much the same as the day before but a lot less up hill. The uphill is not steep and is followed by good descents.
We are camped in the grounds of the Kasungu Hotel and there are rooms available. The hotel was opened by the then Prime Minister in 1973 and it looks like this was the last time it had any money spent on it. However, the rooms are clean with a shower (cold of course) and a toilet.
I had a nap but then had to get up and run to the toilet a few times, hopefully a passing bout not a nasty bug. All seemed to have settled down by tea time, so I went over for dinner. Vegetarian meatless balls that were very nice with broccoli, carrot, cauliflower and beans which were extremely over cooked, with rice, and tomatoes and capsicum salad.
Once we got back to the room I couldn’t sleep, it was really hot even with a fan going in the corner. I ended up opening all the windows as there was netting, despite letting the noise in from outside.
I then started imaging that I could feel bugs biting me, then started worrying about bed bugs and of course stated itching! As well I have developed an asthma cough, so have upped the preventer to twice a day.
In the end I got out my sleeping bag and pillow and slept on top of the bed.
A big day of riding today – 125km with 1890 to climb and 1670 down. Over 1,300 of the climbing is before lunch at 71 km.
Leaving camp it is nice and cool, even though it is very busy riding through the town. About 10 km out of town I notice what looks like a really big dog walking along the side of the road up ahead. As I come closer I realise that it’s a very large male baboon. As I come close he pops back into the forest before I can get my camera out.
To start there are quite a few rolling hills where I can maximise the speed from the down to get most of the way up the next one in the big gears.
The country is very pretty, green, hilly with some interesting rock formations. At the top of the hills are little clusters of houses surrounded by crops, and most have a cluster of small children smiling and waving from the top of banks as you ride past.
Then we got onto some long steep climbs, and I had to get off my bike a few times and push. I drink a lot of water when I ride, actually more than anyone else I know, and I was looking forward to re filling my water bottles at a village at 51 km, but there was no village! I had got confused with yesterday – the next village was 68 km, so another 17 k and I am out of water and thirsty.
After another long steep hill where I again had to get off and walk, I was starting to get concerned, by now my mouth was feeling sticky and my throat very dry, and I didn’t think I would be able to make it to lunch. All the TDA trucks had been past so I was reviewing options -such as asking at a house for water and risk drinking untreated water, try and hitch a ride, ring the phone number for Tallis TDA tour leader for help (good plan but no phone signal). Then I remembered in my bike bag I have lollipops!
Whilst it wasn’t fluid, sucking on a lollipop helped my throat plus the sugar hit also helped. I had to get off a few more times and push my bike, but finally made it to lunch where I immediately drank a bottle and a half of water.
Sitting at lunch I couldn’t stop coughing, not constantly but about 15 seconds of every minute. After about 5 minutes I realised that although I wasn’t wheezy it was pretty likely asthma and felt much better after using my inhaler. I don’t stay long at lunch about 10 minutes, long enough to eat a sandwich and fill up my water bottles. Otherwise I find I start to cool down and then the first 15 minutes are hard while you warm up again.
After lunch the first 15 km were mostly nice down hills with a couple of climbs that I got up fine. Then coming to the top of a hill there was a big steep descent followed a long steep climb. I got about a third of the way up and then it was a long slow walk with the sun beating down on me.
Thankfully it wasn’t till near the top of the hill that I was joined by a group of children demanding my bike, my water bottle, and their money. I was pleased to get to the top and speed away from them.
I had made a deal with myself leaving lunch that if I hadn’t got to 95 km by the time the lunch truck came past I could catch it and ride the rest of the way to camp. It came past at 94.7 km and as I was on a nice downward slope I gave the thumbs up and it sailed past. I regretted this about 5 minutes later, faced with another substantial uphill. Off again.
A bike is called a push bike as you can push it as well as ride it. Sam one of the TDA staff came gliding effortlessly past me and stopped to see if I was ok, which I reassured him I was. Sam was carrying extra water and filled up one of my water bottles for me before speeding off into the distance.
30 km to go with an average speed currently of 8 km, if this keeps up it will be another 4 hours to camp. Not a happy thought. Another 5 km drags by, this one took 28 minutes. I am really regretting my thumbs up to the lunch truck.
Thankfully we had some good down hills followed by not too steep ups and the next 25km went really quickly. Unfortunately, my second mistake of the day – I thought we were riding 120 km and at 120.7 I stopped to check my notes and see it’s actually 125 – and of course what do I see ahead but more uphills.
The last 5 km was ugly, not because it was even a steep climb because it wasn’t, I had just had it. The last two km I walked about half of it.
Luckily once I turned off the road into camp it was a downward gradient so I was able to arrive at camp on my bike. I was surprised that three riders came in after me and another two had stopped at lunch.
We are camping on a school soccer field, once again surrounded by crowds of children wanting our water bottles and every time you look at them chanting “give me my money”. There was a string fence around the camp and some of the riders had put their tent right on the edge and had large groups of children by them. Some had climbed over hanging trees and were dangling down close to their tents. Brett had kindly put up my tent, thankfully not on the outside.
After soup and two cups of tea I headed off to get changed. No showers or buckets of water so wet wipes it was. Even though my tent is not by the string it is about 2 metres away and as I went to my tent a number of children followed and stood around watching. I figured if I shut all the flys they would soon get bored and wander off, which they did.
I had a doze in my tent until dinner time. For the first time it is cool enough to wear a long sleeved top. Dinner is white pasta, tomato and cucumber salad, mushroom sauce with some type of meat replacement strips which is a bit tasteless (possibly tofu). After dinner for no special reason the staff had made a really nice chocolate cake.
Tonight is my turn on dishes. All the riders do their own plates and cutlery and about every third week it’s your turn to help with the pots and pans etc from dinner.
Back in the tent by 7pm, nice and cool. I should sleep better tonight especially as the camp doesn’t have a road going past it, so there shouldn’t be motorbikes and trucks roaring past.
Today there is 135 km to ride, with 1800 metres of climbing 800 metres down. Most of the climbing is a steep climb from 13 km to 25 km so I decided to be kind to myself and take the truck to lunch and ride the 70 km from there.
Even though Lake Malawi is very pretty I am pleased to be getting back up in the higher altitude where it won’t be as humid.
Half way up the hill we saw a troupe of baboons, apparently they sit on this corner as it’s quite wide and the people in the trucks throw them sandwiches and bananas.
After helping getting lunch ready, I left the lunch spot about 10:30. It was actually quite nice setting off knowing you had only 70 km to ride and about 800 metres to climb.
There are lots of tobacco plants and lots of drying sheds along the way, lots of bananas trees as well. The land is quite hilly and very green and reminds me a bit of Columbia. The locals are friendly and only a couple of children demanded “their money”.
There is a bit of a head wind and some of the climbs seem to take a long time and I am pleased I am only riding 70 km today.
Coming into Mzuzu is a bit overwhelming, it’s a really busy town with bikes, motor bikes, cars, and locals everywhere. There is no shoulder in places and the trucks just blast their horns for the locals to jump out of the way, no rights of cyclists apply. There is a huge market for about 5 km on the left hand side with mounds of fruit and clothes and the occasional carcass (no refrigerator involved). It’s midafternoon and very hot, and a reasonable hill so it seems to take a long time to get past.
I got lost going through a roundabout, but realised after a couple of kms and double back. When I came back to the roundabout I saw a couple of riders who had turned the right way ahead so I followed them and 5 min later I was in camp.
Managed to get a room which was old but clean and had a shower (cold and the shower head kept falling off, so really it was like a cold hose). I forgot to put conditioner in my hair and ended up with frizz, which thankfully brushed out ok once it was dry.
The WIFI is by voucher so I got 2 vouchers of 500 MB so that we could send photos and blog updates. The WIFI at the beach was so weak I could only send messenger messages.
Dinner was vegetarian sausages with tomato paste, mashed potato, and peas with gravy which was very nice.
After a couple of sleepless nights, it’s nice to have cooler weather and I am tucked up in bed by 7pm. In the room next to us is a man is having very loud phone calls where he is shouting into the phone. The first call I thought he was arguing but then after the next couple of calls I realised this was just him talking. Not sure if it was a bad connection or whether he was a bit deaf. It wasn’t reasonable to go and ask him at 7pm at night to be quiet as people were trying to sleep. Thankfully about 7:30 he must have made his calls for the day and I didn’t hear him again the rest of the night.