All around Lake Malawi

2012-07-21 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG adventurers Guy Robertson (23), brothers Matthew (23) and Marc (20) Hampson and Caiden Lang (23) have returned from a 75-day trip, circumnavigating Africa’s third-largest lake, Lake Malawi, using kayaks. They racked up 1 438 km on the trip, a huge milestone for the Maritzburg College old boys.

“We had to do something awesome after school, something that nobody else has done,” said Robertson in an interview with Weekend Witness.

The four battled through challenges of government officials, hippos, lake flies, malaria and harsh conditions, softened by the great hospitality of the locals.

“The Malawians were awesome. To get to a beach after a really tough day and be greeted with such hospitality is just amazing.

“They are poor, but they would offer us the food and lodging they had without batting an eyelid,” said Robertson.

The team was hindered by bouts of malaria, which set them back, as well as an incident with a broken boat.

“The broken boat kept us back a couple of days. The crack was that wide,” said Marc Hampson with his hands gesturing about a foot apart.

Midway through their journey, they met a fellow traveller, a bush-pig, 200 metres from the lake shore, and good-naturedly herded the lost animal back to land.

“A lot of thoughts were thrown out there about eating bush-pig meat, but the mere size of the animal would have sunk our boats and the war-wounds would not be worth it,” said Marc.

Lake Malawi or Lake Nyassa, depending on the region, is surrounded by three countries — Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. Each of these countries have different languages; Malawi with Chewa and English, Swahili in Tanzania and Portuguese prominent in Mozambique.

“There was definitely a language barrier with the locals, especially in Mozambique and Tanzania, as many of the locals don’t speak English and our Portuguese is not that great.” said Robertson.

Lake Malawi, well known for its startling beauty and scenery, is rated in the top 12 most beautiful lakes by Yahoo Travel.

“Whoever first used the epithet ‘crystal clear’ to describe water must have spent some time in this area of Malawi,” said Lang, describing Nkatha Bay, a northern area of the Lake.

The effort was started to raise money for the Hope for the Future Foundation, which would assist the funding of the inner-city programme in Mbeya, Tanzania, as well as the All Angels School in Salima village, Malawi. The funding would help clothe, feed and educate several underprivileged children for a year.

“Most people aren’t interested in donating for a cause outside of South Africa, but we have seen where the money is going first hand and we know it is a very good cause,” said Robertson.

You can visit the team’s website at:

http://malawiexpedition.weebly.com

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