Zanzibar to Chitimba, Malawi | Travel Blog


Published: October 11th 2010

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These two days we traveled over 1,000 km along the Tanzam HIghway, finally crossing the border into Malawi in the afternoon of the second day. Here are some of the impressions from our travels:

The Tanzam Highway is paved, but that doesn’t necessarily mean smooth. This is Africa, after all. Some of the tar roads are worse than the gravel ones, full of potholes, bumpy patches, and construction underway. Our big orange truck took the worst of it, but it’s passengers suffered through ‘back massage’ on most of the journey. It was tiring and after 10-12 hours on the road, what with all the stops along the way, we were well and truly tired at the end of each day. At one stop, we saw another overlander mobbed with touts six deep beside the truck windows with crafts and food for sale.

The first of these travel days started at 5:30 which meant breakfast at 5:00, which meant wakeup call at 4:00 to break down and pack the tents and duffels before breakfast. The second day wasn’t much better, starting at 6:00. Ugh!

Tanzania takes speeding very seriously, so at every little village and town, there’s a series of 3-4 little bumps, followed by large bumps through the town, the kind that you really have to stop for. This was OK with Kayla because she could sneak in a few street photos while we were slowed down.

On the other hand, it was quite an experience getting stopped at one of the many police check stops, only to be held extra long while our driver, who is from Kenya, tried to convince the local Tanzanian constabulary that we were not willing to pay a fine directly to them and we would be happy to take the ticket, go to court, and pay the fine for a cracked windshield directly to the government. This was not what they wanted to hear, and there was much arm waving, arguing and general goings on, but nothing moved forward.

Meanwhile, we passengers were getting quite hot and some needed a bush break. There was a growing audience of people from the local village, so we must have caused quite a stir. Finally they were convinced we wouldn’t pay and so we were issued the ticket and sent on our way. It’s good to have an African driver and tour guide.

We gradually moved south and west, making our way to the southern hjighlands of Tanzania. Lunch stop brought a crowd of 12 children who watched us prepare sandwiches and eat – not a good experience in friendship. We gave them the leftovers.

Much to our surprise, it was quite cool at Iringa where we camped for the night after the first day’s travel. No mosquitos and we slept inside our light down sleeping bags (although with the tent flaps still up) for the first time since arriving in AFrica. The landscape is short grass plain north and large mountains south. This was the location at Isimila of 60,000 year old archaeological dig of human bones and tools.

Another long day’s travel, smooth border crossing into Malawi, and 100 km, we arrived at Chitimba on Lake Malawi. Before going to bed, Kayla wanted to check out the market just outside the camp’s guarded gate. Oh boy, were they ever aggressive, but she persevered and purchased two teak bowls and a painting. This was the first time we shopped and were literally shouted at for not buying something from everyone – not the best buying experience.


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