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Malawi Expedition – Trip report

Below we have a few word from Expedition Member David Cribb. Pictures coming soon.

Well, I think in general we had a pretty good expedition. Now that we?re all back in the UK and most of the group has gone back to work or college or school, we?re often seeing things that remind us of our time in Malawi, still making jokes made in Malawi and genuinely happy that we saw this trip advertised 21 months ago.

The training, I think we all agree was essential, and the 18 months prior to Malawi made sure that we all got to know each other, work as a functioning team and generally improve on all the skills we would need out in Africa. By the end of the training we were much better prepared for expedition that we were at the beginning. When we finally touched down in Malawi we were as best prepared as we could be.

Our first impressions of Malawi were the views from the minibus from the airport. We could instantly see that this was very unlike the country we had just left behind, and the talk from DFID in the British High commission really opened our eyes to what this country was really like. When we left the fairly modern capital of Lilongwe on our route down to Songani & Makwawa we further saw what the country was like, with mud huts all along the road.

Our time at Makwawa will be one of our main memories of the trip, building the school along with the Malawian scouts really helped us to get an idea of what life for some of the people out there was like. By the end of the 2 weeks we had also made good friends with the Malawian scouts and we?re all still in touch with them now. Overall our time at Makwawa was highly fun and we managed to experience bits of Malawi, such as haggling, with a hands on approach in places like Zomba Market.

The other two main Projects in Michuru and Blantyre were also highly exciting, whether it was fighting fires, building thatch roofs, watching hyenas or seeing a traditional Malawian dance. Once again we managed to experience different aspects of Malawi whilst still all enjoying ourselves.

One of the other exciting moments was our ascent of Mt. Mulanje. I don?t think many of us had done any mountain climbing of a similar standard to that before, the closest some of us had perhaps got to was the Lake District or Snowdonia. It was a challenging few days but eventually 5 of team Malawi made it to the top.

One thing the entire group was looking forward to right from the beginning of the trip was the Safari at Liwonde National Park. We were lucky enough to see Elephants, Kudu, Water buck, Hippos, Impala?and Crocodiles on a Jeep, Canoe and motor boat safari.

We were also looking forward to our time on Lake Malawi. Whilst staying at Nanchengua (sp?) Lodge we able to hire a catamaran and a speed boat and spend a few hours snorkelling and swimming in the waters surrounding an uninhabited island. We were also able to do some banana boating in the afternoon.? We then moved on to Cape Maclear where, after kayaking across lake Malawi to get to it, we spent a few days on the uninhabited Domwe Island relaxing, learning how to catch fish with only a Mosquito net and a barrel, beating Joe?s time in climbing Domwe Island and learning how to scuba dive.

Towards the end of the trip we began looking forward to home, but then at the same time began thinking about all the things we would miss, the friendliness of the Malawian people, the wonderful landscape, the unique Malawian food (yum Nsima!). The last two nights in the country at Fat Monkeys and back at Mabuya Lodge were spent reminiscing about our 6 weeks and figuring out the best bits to put into the presentation.

Another long journey back to the UK involving a 2:00 flight from Lilongwe, a 5 hour stop in Nairobi and an 8 hour flight back to London Heathrow and we eventually made it back to the UK. 24 hours later, with presentation rapidly prepared we were giving our presentation to friends, family, sponsors and HSX.

A wonderful 6 weeks and an excellent expedition!

Just a few thank yous, I?d like to thank the rest of the team for their company, teamwork and help over the last 21 months and for making the trip as good as it was, Especially Matt, Joe and Emily, the Expedition Leaders who ensured that everything was organised so that we could have a great trip.

I?d also like to thank HSX for initially organising the trip and supporting us throughout our training and expedition.

Finally I?d like to thank all the corporate sponsors and everyone that donated towards the trip because without the money, we wouldn?t have been able to do anything of the amazing things we eventually achieved.

David Cribb

All set for home!

Hi All,

This will probably be our final post.? I’ll leave all the good stories and pictures for the team to relay at the presentation. We are now at Fat Monkeys in Cape MacClear, and have just finished our final breakfast in Malawi. The flights have been confirmed and the times have not changed. We’re all packed and will drive back to Lilongwe soon before flying out very early tomorrow morning. The team are all well and happy!

Thanks to everyone for their comments and support. It’s been fantastic to hear from you all and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the presentation.

Best wishes,

Joe

A Quick Malawi Expedition Update (#2)

After painting signs and sweeping paths for the Michiru center, we broke camp and headed straight for mulanji, after pitstopping at shopright to stock up on vital food for our treck up mulanji or sapitwa as the highest peak of 3002m is called. After 2 days of relatively easy trecking, first day up 1000m onto mulanji? plateau the second along to the base of sapitwa from the mulanji plataeu we had our summit day.

So after setting off in three groups the weather took a turn for the worst and Matt made the decision to turn back with the second and third group in tow, but the first group was already near the summit and with Jo’s charm and persuasion they got the guide to lead them up to the summit, after Jo lended his jacket to the guide and some difficult scrambling and bouldering in parts they reached the summit in typical british weather, and by far the worst conditions that the guide had gone up in ever. We congratulated the vicotors on there 1000m summit with complete cloud cover and absolutely no views in freezing temperatures of Joe, Hal, Mike, Jack and Hayden.

Our final day was an easy decent but seeing as we’d underestamated our food intake for the 4 days we hit a restaurant for our evening meal, superb food and a great atmosphere. Off early to the Joshua project back in blantyre where we spent our next?two days soughting out a library and rebuilding someones roof, with an amazing send off to finish with local cultral dancing and?a volley ball game where, once again like the football, we lost.

After a few annoying punctures we made our way back to Makwawa for a final days tidy up, and a TV crew came and video’d and interviewed us, we believe we got into the 6pm news because in lilongwe national park they gave us a 20% discount for being famous. Three days of safari with a?boat, a car and a canoe safari each. Seeing annimals from hippo’s to crocodiles and elephants to wilderbeasts, it was trully beautiful and the sunsets to finish with a herd of elephants migrating by was spectacular.

Fabulous meals and great breakfasts were the cherry on the top to an amazing safari, now heading off to the lake with excellent GCSE results all round we can commence our final week.

Paul Meekums

A Quick Malawi Expedition Update (#1)

First update on the Malawi blog for a while, due to the fact that we’ve been really busy recently , something about building a school or something…

Since our last update we’ve been to Mt Mulanje where we embarked on our epic climb to try and summit the highest peak, Sapitwa which holds an ancient Chichewa curse of bad luck for all those that set foot upon the peak. After 3 days climbing 5 members?of the team?were succesful?in reaching the summit of 2998 metres with the remainder all succeeding in climbing to 2600 metres before being forced to turn back to poor weather conditions. Our Guide, Jeffery, said that it was the worst weather that he had ever summited in and genuinely looked shell-shocked when he made it back down to the lodge!

After safely making it down the mountain we traveled to a community just outside Blantyre where we worked together with?a youth group?as part of?the Joshua Foundation project?to help rebuild some thatch roofs for the community and to rearrange a library and build a sign for the Milo School of Secondary Education.

After saying goodbye to our new freinds and exchanging email addresses we returned to Makwawa to continue our work with the Malawian scouts to finish building the school. Our good work received the attention of the Malawian Media and we gained a spot on the Malawian evening News.

We then said goodbye (But not forever, as the Malawian scouts sang!) to Makwawa and Headed to Liwonde National Park where we have been for the last 3 days. We’ve been lucky and have seen Elephants, Kudu, Water buck, Hippos, Impala?and Crocodiles on a Jeep, Canoe and motor boat safari. There was also much celebration with much of the team receiving their GCSE results to the sight of elephants in a malawian sunset 🙂

We’re Currently on the way to Mangochi for the next part of the trip.

Hope Everything is alright back in the UK!

David Cribb

Project nears completion and camping with hyenas

Hi from the Team!

We?re currently in Blantyre having successfully finished the vast majority of the school project in Songani. We?re all safe and well and currently helping clear paths (to create fire breaks) and repainting signposts on the trails at Michuru Nature Sanctuary about 8km outside of Blantyre. We?re now camping in the middle of the bush and sharing the site with hyenas (we can hear them but haven?t seen any yet!).

The pics below include; the project as we left it (the contractors are currently finishing the roof, the plastering and the drainage channels), the completed climbing frame with actual children using it ? the creosote hadn?t quite dried but they didn?t seem to mind, post footy (Malawi 3 – England 0), sunrise from Zomba plateau, Mike and his commissioned tea pot and Hayden complete with an M16 (please note parents the lack of a magazine i.e. it?s not loaded!). Just in case you were wondering where the gun came from, it belongs to the Michuru rangers who use it to apprehend poachers and also for keeping us safe.

Anyway, best get back to work, hope all is well in Blighty!

Joe