Next stop over at Cape Mac Clear at Lake Malawi, former famous holiday destination for South Africans and other international people. Last time, we were here, we couldn’t get a bed in one of the 10 lodges at the beach. This time we were the only guests, specials to be negotiated, tourism absolutely dead. No problem to hire a boat to go on the lake for snorkeling (more than 1000 different species of cichlids, which are sweet water aquarium fish in the northern hemisphere). This was a wonderful experience, as well as feeding the 25 pairs of fish eagles, nesting on the neighbor island opposite our camp. We stayed for two nights, tasted the local lake salmon (which is not really a salmon/trout but looks like one) and caught two new butterfly species for our collection. However on the moth light, no way to compete with the moon at Lake Malawi (which you may find on many Malawi paintings). There is no better place to see and discuss the desperate situation of/with the locals, which changed from “good” to “close to starving” within two years. But the Malawian people are willing to suffer and to accept their destiny, uprising is no part of their mentality. Even growing Marihuana doesn’t seem to make sense anymore, as no tourists are coming and asking for Malawi Gold. But we had time to reschedule the initial plan of our tour and to exchange more US$ into Qwatcha. Our northern destination in Malawi was Nyiaka National Park, which we had to skip due to a simple calculation of remaining Diesel and distance to go.
With the great feeling of 1000 km left we headed north to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, where we wanted to stay at the Bua river for two days. No problems to find the lodge, we spent really good days walking through indigenous forests, looking for rare butterflies (which we found !) , not so much on the moth light (still full moon), but nice wines available with decent dinners, until we left according to the revised schedule. Leaving the reserve we were stopped by something like an official gate keeper, asking us for paying the entrance fee. Needless to say, that when we entered, nobody was asking for anything. The entrance fee was roughly 50% of what we had to pay in total at the lodge for accommodation, drinks, etc. Still enthusiastic about our butterfly catch I went into a fighting mode. Days before I had taken the actual tourist magazine “EYE” from one of our stay over places, stating the entrance fees for all Malawi NPs. And this guy wanted to get 3 times more. Confronted with this brochure he disappeared for 10 minutes and came back with a printed list of changed fees, becoming active as per the day before. This was clearly not acceptable for us, I refused to pay anything before having a chance to speak to the president. This request had to lead into a dead lock situation. This guy seemed to be a nice man, who also understood, that this situation wouldn’t help anybody. My proposal to charge us for only one day was refused, as his boss had seen us going in 2 days ago (like being the only tourist in Kruger NP), but he offered to treat us as locals, who have to pay a special/lower rate to go into NPs. And as locals usually don’t have cars he forgot to charge for this. After more than one hour of finally fruitful discussions he asked us not to talk negatively about Malawi when we were back, which we promised. However being back on the main road we had common sense about “we have to get out of this place”.