December 2012 trip Suggestions please





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  1. #1
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    Default December 2012 trip Suggestions please

    Hey guys, I am in need of a little advice and direction I hope you guys can give me the best possible solutions.

    While the SWAMBO was reading the Elle Decor monday evening she found an article about Lake Malawi, and now she must go... So doing a little research to see what and where and need some assistance and advice on the subject.

    She wants to go to an island up north to likoma Island when I check on google maps they say about 2200km from JHB self drive. called about flights yesterday with flight centre they can quote me on a flight from OR Tambo to Lilongwe R6600. Incl tax per person. still need to find out costs to fly from Lilongwe to Likoma Island I also read that one could get to monkey bay and catch a ferry from Monkey bay to Likoma Island take about 3 days ont he ferry.

    What I would like to know is

    1. Has anyone been to Likoma Island and what was it like or are there better suggestions.
    2. if we opt to drive does anyone know if the vehicle can be locked up in Monkey bay or even on the Mozambique mainland while we on the island,
    3. If we drive from JHB is it better to go through Zim and then into Moz or straight into Moz. and how long would you recommend for the drive its self.
    4. Is a 4x4 recommended or can I use my town car. (I prefer the idea of my land Rover)
    5. Would you recommend we travel in a convoy or can I go on my own

    And anything else you can suggest or advice for a trip like this.

    What I had in mind was something to the following (Remeber I have never been up there before so...)

    December break I get 22 days this year.

    Option 1
    14ths December begin trip (no idea on correct route) take 3 days to get to Likoma Bay works out to about 800km per day
    spend 15 days on island and the surrounding areas.
    29th December Begin return journey
    be home by the 1st Janruary

    2 January at work

    Option 2
    14th December begin trip (no idea on correct route) take 2 days to get to Monkey Bay works out to about 800km per day still

    Catch Ferry from monkey bay 3 days to Likoma Island
    spend 8 days on island and the surrounding areas.
    Begin return trip on the 27th December
    Back home 1st January

    2 Jan back at work

    is this just too rushed I dont know or will the 8 days be sufficient on the Islands, again I would also need to know if I can leave my Vehicle on the bay somewhere. at both places.

    What would you suggest

    Scoot
    98' Defender Hardtop 110 (300tdi)
    54' Moto Rumi Formichino (project in progress)
    58' Vespa GS150
    62' Vespa GS160
    66' Vespa SS180
    69' Vespa Rally 180
    69' Lambretta LI150

  2. #2
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    Just a few quick thoughts:

    There isn't much in the way of accommodation options on Likoma. There's Kaya Mawa which is a luxury resort ($500+ per night for two). Then there are a couple of back-packer type options. It is pretty quiet, basically a village rather than a tourist resort and you may find anything more than a few days is a bit much (unless you are indulging yourself at Kaya Mawa!).

    The ferry (the Ilala) shouldn't take 3 days to Likoma (I'd say a day and a half) but it is a proper african ferry ie a huge rust bucket piled high with chickens, furniture and the rest (it is a major transport route around the lake for locals). At most stops (including Likoma) you have to clamber down a ladder into a row boat and then wade in through the surf (so don't bring too much luggage!). A first class ticket gets you a mattress on the top deck.

    There is a fuel crisis in Malawi - you can wait for a few days for fuel to be delivered and then may have to queue. We had to wait two days and queue for 9 hours last time we were there.

    All that sounds a bit off-putting! Don't get me wrong it is a wonderful country (I lived there for a year) but sometimes the glossy mags don't tell the whole story.

    If you decide to go I wouldn't focus on Likoma but look for a nice lakeside resort. There are plenty but they change all the time - perhaps check out trip advisor. This will give you a lot more choice of accommodation and also more flexibility to travel around if you tire of the beach.

    If you want to go on the ferry I'm sure you could find somewhere to leave the car - best bet probably a hotel in Monkey Bay. I think there are also faster boats to Likoma from Nkhata Bay now (ie a few hours). Again you could leave the car at a hotel.

    No need for a convoy or 4WD just to get to the lake but a 4WD will give you flexibility if you want to travel elsewhere eg into one of the parks. And make sure you enter Malawi with enough fuel to get out again.

  3. #3
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    Lisa gives good advice here - as she said, Likoma is pretty limited. You can walk around the island, you can visit the cathedral, you can go for a dive, then you can walk around the island, go for a dive... It's a great place, but I definitely wouldn't spend more than a couple of nights there. As mentioned, the ferry is a rust bucket, the toilets overflow (and not just with urine) when the boat is crowded, a first class ticket and/or a white skin will get you a spot on the roof... you get the drift.
    We were there a while back, when the Chauncey Marples was still operating. The Chauncey Marples was named after the Anglican archbishop who drowned in the lake during a storm. Great name for a ferry! The MV Ilala and the other boats operating then were equally dilapidated.
    If you're looking for a glossy magazine tropical island idyll, Likoma Island is not the place (in fact, most of Lake Malawi is not the place - for that you need to head for the Bazaruto or Quirimba Archipelagos.) Also, December is very hot and humid and the start of the long rains - mozzies and malaria aplenty.
    But Malawi is a great place, the lake is beautiful, and the people wonderfully friendly. No need to travel in convoy, and if you want, you could drive there in a sedan car, but a 4x4 is useful, and essential if you want to go to the Nyika Plateau, Nkhotakhota Game Reserve (the hill section), and any of the dirt roads in the rainy season.

  4. #4
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    Hey guys thank you very much for all the advice and tips. I am still very keen on visiting Lake Malawi BUT our ideas of a December trip has been put on hold, Luckily the trip has not been cancelled but rather changed to a Botswana holiday, and work trip.

    My wife has been contracted to assist with a wedding co ordination and flowers for a wedding in the Delta, so I do not entirly loose out on my 4x4 trip.

    I am still happy.

    Thanks again guys for your replies
    98' Defender Hardtop 110 (300tdi)
    54' Moto Rumi Formichino (project in progress)
    58' Vespa GS150
    62' Vespa GS160
    66' Vespa SS180
    69' Vespa Rally 180
    69' Lambretta LI150

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