Camping on Malawi’s Zomba Plateau with Zeb the Duck

I, Zeb the Duck, and the humans spent the night in a tent on the Zomba Plateau.   According to Bradt’s Malawi guidebook, the plateau is an isolated syenite protrusion that extends over 130 square kilometers and reaches an altitude of 2,087 meters.   That is about 6,500 feet above sea level.   This is where I slept.

Our tent

Our tent

This tent held 2 human ladies and one duck.    This is more of our campground.

Nice campgrounds

Nice campgrounds

Much of the Zomba Plateau is protected in Malawi’s oldest forest reserve which supports significant patches of indigenous riverine and montane forest, as well as areas of tangled scrub and Brachystegia woodland.   Shortly after arriving at our campgrounds, we took a hike.

Let's go for a hike

Going for a hike

I really liked the thick vegetation near this stream.

By the river

By the river

We hike past a stand with many wood carvings.   Look at these huge carvings.

Love the masks

Love the masks

This store has a big variety of items.

Some of everything here

Some of everything here

This stand belongs to our hiking guide.   I love these tables and the wooden cars behind the tables.

Great tables and cars

Great tables and cars.   Great elephant.

Our guide tells us about the carvings, but there is no hard sell tactics.   We like our guide.   These trees are a little different than we usually see, and the sky is so blue and bright today.

Beautiful blue sky

Beautiful blue sky

Remember that the Zomba Plateau is almost 6,500 feet or 2,987 meters above sea level, so we had many great views from the top.

View from the top

View from the top

This dam was completed in 1999 forming this pretty reservoir.

Dam and reservoir

Dam and reservoir

The waterfall was a short distance from the main path, but it is beautiful and looks so clear and clean.

Pretty waterfall

Pretty waterfall

Remember that we are in the tropics, between the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn, but it got cold at night.   Our guides built a fire.   We all took our chairs and ate a delicious dinner sitting around the fire.   We could even see our breath.   In the morning, after breakfast and a little time for wandering around the area, we headed down the road, back to Zomba.

Heading down toward town

Heading down toward town

We liked the Zomba Plateau.   It was so pretty, but a little colder at night than I expected.   I think you will like what we see next time, so don’t miss our next post.

Zeb the Duck is Heading to the Zomba Plateau in Malawi

This morning as we prepare to leave Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, our group of six women is forever split.   Two women will climb Mount Mulanje in southern Malawi.   Mom and I, Zeb the Duck, and 3 other women begin a trip with Kiboko Safari Company.

Preparing to leave Lilongwe

Preparing to leave Lilongwe

Today we will ride to the Zomba Plateau.   Tomorrow we will hike and camp here.   Then we will visit Liwonde National Park for a safari.   We will also spend a day and night camping at Cape Maclear.   After a visit at Chongoni Rock Art, we will return to Lilongwe and this group of women will all leave Malawi to resume separate lives.   Today I want you to see every day scenes of Malawi, from our vehicle.   Fire wood provides heat and fire to cook and heat water.   This is one way wood is moved across Malawi.

Really big load of firewood.

Really big load of firewood.

These bikers carry so much wood.   That requires much work, balance and talent.   We are riding toward some of Malawi’s mountains.

Toward the mountains

Toward the mountains

If people are able to acquire a bike, they can travel faster and further than those that only walk. I really like this tall mountain.

Tall mountain peak

Tall mountain peak

Of course, living in Colorado, I always appreciate mountain scenery.   We saw several carts like this one.

Cart

Cart

Many people use transportation that is not powered by machinery.   Looking through the window, we were captivated by the markets and all the activity on both side of the road.

Road between Malawi and Mozambique

Road between Malawi and Mozambique

This road is on the border of Malawi and Mozambique.  The right side is Mozambique and the left side is Malawi.   Mozambique borders Malawi on much of the east, all of the south and some of the west.   This truck, like most motorized vehicles, carries much cargo and many people.

Vehicles are loaded

Vehicles are loaded

Along the side of the road, we often saw these white bags.

Bags of charcoal

Bags of charcoal

This is charcoal.  Most charcoal is produced illegally in Malawi.   The production of charcoal leads to more deforestation.   Many people understand the problem, but still keep some charcoal to burn during power outages.   We stopped in the town of Zomba.   Zomba was founded in 1891 as the capital of the British Central African Protectorate.   Zomba remained the capital until 1975, about 10 years after independence.   In 1975 Lilongwe became the capital of Malawi, but Zomba is still very important.   This girl demonstrates that the females learn to balance and carry heavy loads on their heads at a very young age.

Young girl carrying heavy load of wood in Zomba

Young girl carrying heavy load of wood in Zomba

This is a big load of firewood.   We walked through the market and I posed for this photo with some distant Malawian relatives.

Some of my distant relatives in Zomba

Some of my distant relatives in Zomba

Even though I am not in many of these photos today, I, Zeb the Duck, was there looking out the window with the humans.   We passed some markets along the road.

Items made of straw

Items made of straw

There is a lot of straw products in this part of Malawi.   We saw many houses of this style.

House in Malawi

House in Malawi

Some houses, like this one, had goats.

House with nearby goats

House with nearby goats

Remember the goats are important for their milk.   Milk is consumed by humans and sometimes made into goat cheese.   Excess milk and cheese can be sold, also.   The goat is eaten when it no longer produces baby goats and no longer gives much milk.   Previously I showed you scenes from near Lake Malawi.   Today we are viewing a mountainous area of Malawi.   We love the many geographic regions of Malawi and hope you do, also.

 

From Ripple Africa to Mua Mission, Malawi with Zeb the Duck

Today we are leaving our two week home with Ripple Africa, but we are not leaving Malawi.   I, Zeb the Duck, and the humans enjoyed our time on the shore of Lake Malawi with Ripple Africa.   We all learned so much and met such warm, friendly people.    I said goodbye to my friend, Dan.

Dan from Ripple Africa

Dan from Ripple Africa

Dan is the Volunteer Projects Manager.   As we leave, the children follow our vehicles, waving and smiling.

Children from Ripple Africa

Children from Ripple Africa

We will be back in the capital, Lilongwe, tonight, but we will visit Mua Mission on the way.   Sights along the road include this truck driving in front of us and a biker also on the road.

Riding through Malawi

Riding through Malawi

The passengers seem happy and friendly.   It is July, the winter in Malawi, so it is not too hot for gardens.   We see produce stands like this one, with such beautiful tomatoes.

Fresh tomatoes available today

Fresh tomatoes available today

Mua Mission is one of the oldest Catholic outposts in Malawi.  The Mission was established by the “White Fathers” at the base of the Rift Valley Escarpment in 1902.   Our first stop is the Chamare Museum which opened in 1999.   This museum is said to be the finest ethnographic museum in Malawi.   Let’s go through the gate and visit the museum.

Let's go through this pretty gate

Let’s go through this pretty gate

Isn’t this a great mask outside?

Mask at museum entrance

Mask at museum entrance

I, Zeb the Duck, love it.   We will pay our entrance fee and meet our guide.

Chamare Museum

Chamare Museum

The first room has an overview of Malawi history and we are allowed to take photographs.    Photographs are not allowed in the other rooms of the museum.   I examined these items and wandered around the room as the guide explained what we were seeing.

Artifacts inside museum

Artifacts inside museum

You really would enjoy visiting the Chamare Museum.   Remember that this is a Catholic Mission, so this panel with the Resurrection is very important.

The Resurrection

The Resurrection

The other rooms contained items and information about the three major cultural groups of the region, Chewa, Ngoni and Yao.   The last room was perhaps the most impressive.   It contains the world’s largest collection of Gule Wamkulu masks, around 400 total masks.   Photos are prohibited to preserve the masks and other items, but it is sad that I could not share some of these with you.   When you are in Malawi, this museum in Mua Mission, is worth a visit.   The outside of the museum is decorated with several colorful murals, such as this one.

Colorfull murals on outside of Chamare Museum

Colorfull murals on outside of Chamare Museum

The Art Gallery is near the museum.

Art Gallery

Art Gallery

We visited the show room, and made several purchases.   I loved the wood carvings.    I also like the fresh look of the church.

Church

Church

Choir practice was being held outdoors.

outdoor choir practice

outdoor choir practice

The mild weather is wonderful for outdoor activities.   We walked behind the museum to see this amphitheater.

Amphitheater

Amphitheater

This would be a wonderful place to enjoy a performance.   Our short visit to Mua Mission was pleasant.   If you have more time, you could spend a couple days here, enjoying the mission and the surrounding area.   Next time we will show you more of Malawi.

Music and Dancing on the Beach in Malawi with Zeb

It feels like a party on the beach on Lake Malawi.   I think we are ready for a party.

Our beach. Ready for a party.

Our beach.  Ready for a party.

Here is the drummer.

Drummer

Drummer

He is fantastic.   I, Zeb the Duck, don’t think he ever stops playing.   We love him.   People are dancing.

Let's dance

Let’s dance

The smiling children are joining the dancing.

Children dancing

Children dancing

We like many dancers.   Everybody should try dancing on the beach to the beat of the drum.

Many more dancing

Many more dancing

If not dancing, many play on the beach of Lake Malawi, in Malawi.

Many people on beach of Lake Malawi

Many people on beach of Lake Malawi

These children love to have their pictures taken, or they really like to see their pictures.

Children love the camera

Children love the camera

Someone is leading the conga line.

Join the conga line anyone?

Join the conga line anyone?

This is fun.   Of course, no party is complete without food.   Esther cooks for us, using this three burner wood burning changu changu moto.

Esther cooks on a three burner wood burning changu changu moto

Esther cooks on a three burner wood burning changu changu moto

Deborah seemed to disappear for awhile.   She was helping Esther.   That was very nice to do.   It is getting dark now; the drummer is stopping and the dancers are stopping.   All the Ripple Africa volunteers, some of our Malawi friends and Ripple Africa employees gather for dinner.   For dessert, a chocolate birthday cake is presented to Linda.

Birthday cake for Linda

Birthday cake for Linda

This cake was baked on a changu changu moto wood burning stove.   And the cake is delicious.   We are all happy that Linda has a birthday while in Malawi, and that she shared her cake.    The humans and Zeb, the Colorado Traveling Duck, will always smile when remembering our farewell party.   We will miss all our new friends at Ripple Africa.   Once again, the people have shown us why Malawi is called the Warm Heart of Africa.

Malawi Women

Today mom and the other volunteer women tried to be Malawi women.   What an experience for everybody.   First they washed dishes.

Clean dishes drying

Clean dishes drying

Here are the washed dishes, air drying.   Next was chopping wood.

Linda chopping wood

Linda chopping wood

Linda is doing a great job.   Chopping wood is hard work.   Wood is needed every day for fires to cook and to heat water.   Red beans are cooking on the changu changu moto stove.

Red beans cooking on changu changu moto

Red beans cooking on changu changu moto

Having beans is a treat.   Beans are not available to eat every day.   Next the women went to the well and carried water back to the house.   Here is Rebecca showing how it is done.

Rebecca carrying water

Rebecca carrying water

The volunteer women all tried, but it is not so easy.   Here is Denise carrying water.

Denise carrying water

Denise carrying water

Now it is time to prepare the cassava for eating.  Cassava is a root vegetable, similar to a potato.  It does not have a strong flavor, and is eaten almost every day.   Our cassava had already been dug from the ground.   Then it was peeled and soaked in water.   The next step is drying the cassava.   That was already complete when we arrived at the home of Catherine and Rebecca and their families.   The volunteer women broke the cassava into small pieces.   Then the cassava must be pounded into a flour like substance.

Linda pounding cassava

Linda pounding cassava

Linda is pounding cassava now.   Rebecca and Catherine show the women how it is more effective if two ladies pound together.

Rebecca and Catherine pound cassava together

Rebecca and Catherine pound cassava together

After the cassava is pounded into a powder, it must be sifted.   Deborah is sifting the cassava now.

Deborah sifting cassava

Deborah sifting cassava

When sifting, the women must keep the cassava low, so it does not blow onto the ground.   Now the cooking begins.

Cooking cassava

Cooking cassava

After cooking, the cassava is called nsima.  (The n in nsima is silent.   This food is pronounced seema)  The nsima is very stiff and difficult to stir.   Deborah is stirring the nsima now.

Deborah stirring cassava

Deborah stirring cassava

While the women are doing this hard work, the men are building a house without machines.   The foundation is dug with shovels.   The men must also make the bricks.

Building house without machinery. Foundation dug with shovels

Building house without machinery. Foundation dug with shovels

Soon 17 nieces and nephews will be coming to stay with Catherine and Rebecca and their families.   They are in boarding school now, and their parents have died.   So more room is needed and much more work will be required.   Rebecca went back to school after she had her children and she is now a preschool teacher.   She was one of the four teachers pictures in our last post.   She is an amazing lady.   Naturally her day starts very early, as she must carry water, chop wood, cook and wash dishes before she starts teaching, about 7:40 a.m.   In Malawi, life is hard, but we found that the people are willing to share what they have and they always have a smile.  I, Zeb the Duck, stayed in my traveling bag when the children came home.  Children always want to keep me, so I don’t pose for photos when many are around.   I do like children and do not want to disappoint them when I have to go home with mom.   The people we met in Malawi showed us that Malawi really is the warm heart of Africa.

Malawi Elementary Schools and Adult Literacy from Zeb the Duck

Today I, Zeb the Duck, will show you some elementary schools.

Classroom painted with alphabet and lady bugs, helping to count to 10

Classroom painted with alphabet and lady bugs, helping to count to 10

Inside the classroom, the walls help teach the alphabet, and counting with the lady bugs.   Another wall has animals and the months painted.

Classroom painted with animals and months on walls

Classroom painted with animals and months on walls

There are no windows and no doors in these classrooms.   The students are very eager to learn and very well behaved.  These students are moving to another group.

Moving to another group

Moving to another group

Students sit on the floor, there are no desks and chairs, waiting for instructions from the teachers.

Attentive students on floor. No desks and chairs available

Attentive students on floor. No desks and chairs available

This small group is working outside with the bottles.   They are practicing their numbers.

Small group outside with teacher. Working on numbers

Small group outside with teacher. Working on numbers

There are no physical education classes, so teachers have the students form a large circle around the room.

Large circle around classroom. Song and dancing time.

Large circle around classroom. Song and dancing time.

Time for singing and dancing now.

Large circle. Each students gets a turn to dance

Large circle. Each students gets a turn to dance

Each student has a turn in the center of the circle.   There was much singing and dancing here.   I, Zeb the Duck, stayed in my traveling bag as I do when children are around, but I heard so much excitement and joy in the singing.   This is a very happy classroom.   After class, but before being dismissed for the day, the students receive an after school snack.

Students enjoying after school snack of sweet tea and potatoes

Students enjoying after school snack of sweet tea and potatoes

They each receive a piece of potato and a cup of sweet tea.   A teacher is handing out potatoes.

Handing out pieces of potato

Handing out pieces of potato

Here, Jenny, a volunteer from Ohio, is giving students the sweet tea.

Handing out cups of sweet tea

Handing out cups of sweet tea

When they have finished their snack, the sit patiently waiting instructions from the teachers.

Patiently sitting, waiting for teacher to dismiss class for the day.

Patiently sitting, waiting for teacher to dismiss class for the day.

We were so impressed with the politeness of the young children.   These are the four teachers for this group of students.

Four extremely talented and dedicated teachers.

Four extremely talented and dedicated teachers.

They are such kind, patient and dedicated teachers.   This another classroom of students.

Another elementary school classroom

Another elementary school classroom

Ripple Africa, the organization we are with these two weeks, helps sponsor 8 elementary schools.   After I, Zeb theDuck, and the 6 volunteer women left, there was a graduation ceremony for the young children.

Mwaya Preschool

Mwaya Preschool

My friend, Jenny, was invited and she wrote about her experience.   This shows how grateful the parents are and how Jenny was accepted by the community.   We think you might enjoy reading this.   Go to http://www.RippleAfrica.org/ripple-africa-news/9750       We also worked with adult literacy.   There are many adults that cannot read, but want to learn.   They come to the library twice a week for reading tutoring.   Here is the librarian.

The librarian heads the adult literacy program

The librarian heads the adult literacy program

He heads the adult literacy program and teaches the classes.   He has also written some short stories that have been published.  He is very nice.   Mom and some other volunteers helped him with teaching of adults.   We enjoyed working with adults.   Here is Jenny, the volunteer from Ohio, with an adult student and a teacher’s child.

Jenny with adult student and a teachers child

Jenny with adult student and a teachers child

We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, believe that education is important, so we liked working with students of all ages.   We want to thank Deborah for the photos of the children in classes.   She is a very good photographer and she shared these photos with us.   Mom didn’t have very good photos in classrooms.   Thanks, Deborah.

Zeb the Duck Visits Chikumbuso Museum at Makuzi Beach, Malawi

From Makuzi Beach Lodge, Patrick showed us the Chikumbuso Museum and Cultural Center.   We walked from the lodge, down a sandy road, to the Center.

Long sandy road

Long sandy road

Jeb, the dog, walked with us and patiently waited for us to return to Makuzi Beach Lodge.

Jeb waiting for us at the museum and cultural center

Jeb waiting for us at the museum and cultural center

The Museum and Cultural Center is a remembrance for Chief Yakucha, who died in 2008.   Patrick showed us how to play the musical instruments.

Many musical instruments

Many musical instruments

This basket was used in shallow water to catch small fish.

Basket for catching fish

Basket for catching fish

When using the bow and arrow for hunting, the arrow was first dipped in a fast acting poison.

Poison arrows were used

Poison arrows were used

When hit with the arrow, the poison entered the blood and the animal soon staggered and fell, giving the hunter food for his family.   We really liked these elephants.

Love the elephants

Love the elephants

My friend Deborah and Patrick are testing the pipes.

Deborah and Patrick with pipes

Deborah and Patrick with pipes

Don’t they look great, and happy?   Remember I first met Deborah in Cuba, where she tried cigar smoking.   In 1880 Dr. Robert Laws relocated the Livingstonia Mission to a hill overlooking Bandawe Point, in this area.   However, in 1894, the mission location was abandoned and moved to Khondowe on the Rift Valley Escarpment because so many people died of malaria.   We visited the “White Man’s Graveyard” where so many are buried.

National Monument. Missionary Cemetery

National Monument. Missionary Cemetery

This is the grave for Sophia Aitken, from 1896.

Sophia Aitken at rest

Sophia Aitken at rest

With one notable exception, all the graves are from the 1800s.  Mama Jane Jackson,the owner and founder of our Makuze Beach Lodge, tragically died in a paragliding accident in Zimbabwe in 1997.   The much loved lady is buried here.

Grave of Mama Jane Jackson

Grave of Mama Jane Jackson

You can see, there are several graves.

Several graves here

Several graves here

On the road,we met girls and women carrying firewood for cooking.   The ladies carry the wood on their heads.

Looking elegant while carrying wood

Looking elegant while carrying wood

When they walk, they have a wonderful posture and walk so smoothly, they seem glide down the road.  They look and walk so elegantly.   Patrick, our guide, is also an artist.   We bought a painting and a wood carving from Patrick.

Patrick's painting and wood carving. Maybe a tea candle inside carving??

Patrick’s painting and wood carving.   Maybe a tea candle inside carving??

Patrick is here with his cousin, our assistant guide.

Patrick and his cousin with Patrick's art

Patrick and his cousin with Patrick’s art

They were both very nice and very knowledgeable.   They are my new friends.