My brother Lucas introduced us to Malawi and more specifically to Cape Maclear. When he told us about his nearly year long travelling’s through Africa and showed us photo’s of Lake Malawi and Cape Maclear, we felt the urge to go and explore it ourselves. So, in 1996 we packed our Nissan Sani, loaded our youngest child (Heleen) in the back and off we went. I managed to navigate us onto the one road that Lucas said we must NOT take…..so we drove into Chembe Village in total darkness. (not our usual thing!) In the middle of the village there was a pole with a TV. A Leon Schuster film was showing. The locals stormed us and told us that there is no camp site near and we MUST stay at Mr. Stevens (rooms). We were very tired and thought we will try to locate the campsite the next morning. We booked a room, ordered chicken and chips and after being directed towards the “bar”, walked into a small building where we bought our first Carlsberg Green Beers and a Fanta for Heleen. On the opposite side of the entrance was also an opening and when we walked through that…….there were the lake bathed in the rays of a full moon. We were hooked!!! Later on I walked to our room to fetch something and there in the backyard of Mr. Stevens the cook was busy slaughtering the chicken to braai on a fire on a sheet of corrugated iron. When our chicken and chips arrived, it was chicken and rice and the best chicken we have ever tasted!! The next morning we looked for Emmanuel’s campsite and found it about 200m from Mr. Stevens
To make a long story short, we obtained a piece of beach land from the local authority, came back to Mossel Bay, sold all our earthly belongings with the idea to start a holiday resort at Cape Maclear, uprooted our poor children and dreamed about a life at Cape Maclear. In real life this does not always work. We ended up doing exactly what we were doing for the last 30 year, selling property but this time in Langebaan.
Now after 15 years, we came back to Cape Maclear and the old magic still works. We are totally in love with the place. We stayed at Fat Monkeys, visited Emmanuel who now rents out his campsite to a Chinese who are cutting trees in Malawi, saw all our old friends and had a ball of a time.
Kananji & Choicie
We had such a fantastic welcoming from all the people that knew us from back then. The Banda family made us part of their family. They invited us to their homes to meet their wives and children. Kananji, whom we took to hospital because he had Malaria in 1998, invited us to a lunch with his wife and 2 daughters. The lunch consisted of homegrown rice, goat meat and a delicious tomato/onion sauce. They are so poor these people but they would insist on entertaining you. They came every day to greet and make sure that we are fine and asking about Arno’s health, bringing us fruit and fish. It was such a humbling experience. We promised not to stay away so long again. Kananji gave Arno a beautiful artwork painting as a farewell present and his wife gave me about a kg of rice that was homegrown by herself. Food out of their own mouths! He also sent a present with us to give to “Mr. Ruckus”. We had to give your cell no to him brother….he insisted!
Kananji”s daughters Lola and Ruthie came to visit us because they wanted to see where we stay.
The cook hut
Kananji’s wife, in laws, Lola & Ruthie
Chembe Village is a well organised area with lots of people doing their own canvasing for whatever their ability are. We must say that it is much better than 15 years ago. No harassing from the adults and no “sweeties” or “give me money” from the children. We walked everyday up and down the village (Arno’s Carlsberg’s had this special ability to kept on becoming empty), so we had to walk and buy some full ones and we were not once being troubled by locals. They greet you, ask how you are, where you’re from and if they want to sell something to you and you decline, they accept it, say goodbye and walk away.
Cape Maclear has still the most awesome sunsets, beautiful clean beaches, friendliest local people, best fish, delicious paw-paw’s, bananas and mangos…..and we are still totally hooked!! Can’t wait to bring the grand kiddies to experience this magnificent place!
Malawi against the rest of the world
Main street through Chembe Village
Over landers farewell braai
Wash Day (it was drizzly, so we used the kitchen area. Lucky to be alone in a campsite
Our camp under a huge Mango tree. We paid $6 p.p p night
View from our tent
Mr. Steven’s (closed now)
In the middle of the photo is the bar that I talked about (1996) A South African is renting all the buildings from Mr. Stevens and started renovating them.
The Chalets at Fat Monkeys $120 per night (not sure if it is per person)
Sharing the campsite with us were Brad Grey, an artist from Wildernis, his wife Elaine and their 3 young children. They are on a 3 month tour but are slowly going back home in Wildernis, Cape Province. Brad has recently been elected by a group of famous people like George Clooney, Swatch and 5 other, who owns the Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, to stay at the famous Hotel and work in a studio at the hotel from October 2013 to March 2014 where visitors can see how he and other selected artists are working. A huge breakthrough for Brad. Some of his paintings are on exhibition in Los Angeles and Thabo Mbeki’s wife owns one of his art pieces. He has won numerous awards both in South Africa and internationally. Read more about Brad on his website www.bradgray.co.za Elaine, a teacher, will work at Hanora International School in Xian, China. It was such a pleasure to chat to Brad, Elaine and the children. We wish them all the best for this great opportunity and adventure in China.
Brad, Elaine & kiddies
We not only meet famous and interesting people, but make new friends at every place we stay. We met Arend & Orgina de Jager from Pretoria at Cape Maclear. The group of 3 families, Wessel & Heidi van Tonder with their brand new Izusu 4×4 Motorhome, Charlie & Hilda Reader with their brand new Canopy Caravan (as Charlie describes it “it’s not inside but on top”) and Jorrie & Liezel Jordaan invited us and the French couple for a drink that became a braai and a huge party that kept on till midnight. They had to leave very early the next morning for Tanzania and Kenya……… Hope you guys enjoy the Serengeti, Masai Mara and Zanzibar. Thanks again for a lovely evening!
Wessel & Heidi
Charlie & Hilda
Jorrie & Liezel