In Deep Do-do again

I can think of a lot worse places than Lukwe Camp at Livingstonia to be told to sit and do nothing.

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To round things off, Gareth and Kirsty (who we met further south on the lake) turned up. Gareth says he’s as incompetent as me mechanically, but I doubt it.

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He came up with a plan to use clamps on the engine vacuum pump seal to try and slow the leak. We ran the engine for a few hours and it seemed to work. The real test as to whether or not it will hold will come when we go back up the rough track to the hospital to have my leg checked later in the week.

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In the meantime, 3 Dutch guys (2 doctors and a pharmacist) were camped next to us for a couple of days. They were good enough to take a look at the bite for me and gave us a handful of dressings and antiseptic solution from their supplies.

As they wandered around the camp half naked (typical Dutch) Helene busied herself sewing up holes in my trousers.

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She managed to tear herself away every now and then to get a few snaps of the dashing young doctors.

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The rest of the week was spent (by me) lazing around the camp and (by Helene) going native collecting water from the well…

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…and bringing it back to camp in local style.

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Lukwe Camp is exceptionally eco-friendly. There is no mains power (only a little solar lighting) and they have solar showers and composting toilets.

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All of it is kept spotlessly clean by owner Auke’s staff.

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The whole place was built, by hand, by Auke himself. Every toilet seat, wall, door, shower, and sink.

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He also built the bar / restaurant and all the furniture from his own teak and mahogany trees. Every plank of wood for the deck was cut by hand from the log and is fitted using dowels rather than screws or nails (as is all the furniture). It really is a gem.

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In the restaurant, Fiskane produces excellent, well priced food. She has 4 daughters of her own and has adopted an orphaned girl (Gloria) who is now going to school for the first time at age 15. Schooling is cheap for grades 1-8 (250 Kwacha per term) but from grade 8 upwards it rockets to 10,000 Kwacha per term (£15 / $25) – well out of the reach of most families.

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The stir-fry, steaks, salads, curries, etc use fresh produce from Lukwe’s large permaculture garden established 14 years ago by Auke’s wife Lisle.

They also roast the coffee they grow…

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…which complements the breakfasts they serve. Home made bread and eggs from the chicks in the garden, etc.

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Unfortunately my breakfast was a bit of a let-down. My own fault really, I ladled what I though was French Mustard (not seen for many months) onto my eggs, only to discover it was peanut butter. Doh!

I spent most of the next 5 days sitting on my backside nursing my ankle, just enjoying the views of the other side of the valley from the terrace.

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Not a bad way to while away a week.

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Helene couldn’t sit around any longer and went wandering around Lukwe’s permaculture garden and on a short hike with Gareth & Kirsty to the waterfall that runs through the valley overlooked by the camp.

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As always, any attraction itself attracts kids who want to be guides.

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The falls are accessible at the top and provide water for much of the local community.

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There’s also a cave about a third of the way down where almost a century ago locals used to hide when Slavers came to Malawi from Mozambique looking for ‘recruits’.

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Eventually, antibiotics finished, we decided to test the car up the hill to see Doctor Lynne in Livingstonia.

She was fairly happy with the progress of my bite. But not so happy when I told her that having spent 6 days keeping it covered and spotlessly clean, the previous evening I fell, up to my knees, into the soakaway for the composting toilets.

Once more in deep do-do.

Most importantly, Gareth’s clamp on the car held like a charm.

We had about 250km to travel to a Land Rover mechanic we’d heard of in Tanzania, and only 2 days left on our Malawi visas. Having lost nearly 5 litres of oil on the way up (the engine holds 6!) we decided to use the downward journey as a bit of a test.

We bounced the 15km of steep, rutted hairpins back to lake level and stayed once again at Chitimba Camp with Ed ‘The Viking’.

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At least that gave me a chance to pick up the spoon I’d ordered from Chico (one of the local wood-carvers) over a week ago, having promised I’d be back in 24 hours. This is the second one he made – the first was big enough to go Dragon-Boat Racing with.

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Best of all, the clamp was still fixed firmly.

Right, now to get 235km to the top of Lake Malawi and into Tanzania, before it gives up.