Our upcoming travel plans through Malawi and into Tanzania consisted of the following:
- Travel to the southern tip of Lake Malawi to visit a town called Cape McClear for a few days.
- Make our way to Monkey Bay, where a once-weekly ferry departs for a three day journey up the lake, stopping at 13 villages along the way.
- Disembark the ferry (halfway through) on Likoma Island for a week before finishing the journey.
- Upon reaching the northernmost part of the lake, travel by land to the Tanzanian border.
- Cross the border and make our way north to a city where a 25 hour train journey will take us to Dar Es Salam. From there, we could hang for a few days then venture on to Zanzibar.
The challenges posed by this plan were as follows:
- Nobody really knows how to get to Cape Maclear from here. We asked around like crazy, and pretty much the only advice we got was to make our way via several chappas from one town to the next until, eventually, we'd probably find one going to Cape Maclear. Perfect.
- There are no ATMs at ANY of the places we'd visit on this journey. Which means we'd need to carry enough cash on us to last about 2-3 weeks. Always a dreadful idea, especially when in and out of ferry ports, notorious for robbery.
- On the day we attempted to leave Blantyre, our ATM cards decided not to work. Delaying our departure until we could sort things out with our banks. Not really giving us any time in Cape Maclear before we had to be in Monkey Bay for Friday's ferry.
- The ferry must be booked in person several days in advance, which means we may not even get on this week's departure and have yet another ATM-less week to worry about. Did I mention that none of these towns accept credit cards either? WTF?!
- Same booking rules go for the 25-hour train journey in Tanzania, meaning we could be stuck in some crappy city for yet another week waiting for tickets.
Given that travel in Africa is guaranteed to be roughly 27 times more difficult in practice than on paper, we anticipated alot of time, money and stress associated with this trip. We've had a rough go of it lately and frankly, aren't in the mood. So, we decided on something drastic.
Today, we are flying to Tanzania! We visited a travel agency and found tickets directly from here for just about the max we had decided it was worth to us. And we really feel like we're leaving all of our issues behind and landing in Tanzania with a fresh clean slate. It's just the new start we need. In just a few days, we'll be livin it up in Zanzibar! Onward and upward.