With one last “You won’t make it” from Willie, the owner at Hakuna Matata, we left for Livingstonia – or more accurately Lukwe Farm at the top of the gravel pass and the camp we will be staying at on our first night – if we make it.
From the very first moment the road set out, or tried, to prove everybody right – no beetle will conquer the infamous, monstrous road. However, after the first 500m of deep grooves, ditches and high rocks, Clayton fell into his easy, slow rhythm and we cruised up the mountain. Each hairpin tried to be worse than the previous, sharper, steeper and narrower but, we made it (as always) and we were blessed with some of the most beautiful views of the lake.
There really is not much to do once you get to the top when you only have a day and a half. If you truly want to experience and see the area you really do need at least 3 days because you can then wander a little further, using the camp as a base.
We hiked to the nearby waterfalls that you can see from Lukwe Farm, a quick 20min hike which is just the way I like it and the next day we went to explore the town. The Lonely Planet, or one of the other must-have travel guides, described the town as follows: “It is as if someone slowly, piece by piece, moved sections of an old European town to the top of the Nyika Plateau”. I have not yet been to Europe so I can really not compare but honestly, if that is what’s waiting for me, I really do not want to go.
The Museum… Again, I am not one for museums so I can again not compare it to one but, I can compare it to a 10-year old’s history project. And this 10-year old was definitely not an A-grade student. You get the idea that the people who put it all together really grasp at straws just to put something in a glass display with a plaque below it, identifying the obvious object inside (Below a gramophone: “A gramophone” – nothing more, nothing less). The one display shows a torn, old (but not antique), dirty raincoat/cloak and next to it a dirty plate, knife and fork used by some person perceived to be important which now made the items too special to wash, like a teenager with her idol’s autograph on her hand, refusing to wash it in fear that the magic will disappear (don’t worry I clearly see the hypocrisy since that was what I felt like with the “Bush Note”). I might be a bit harsh on them but I felt like they should’ve paid me to go there, not the other way around.
I like history, do not love it, just like it. So for me (and I think a good chunk of the human population) museums need to go just that extra bit to hook people and keep them interested enough to actually read everything and spend some time there. I am sure if they tried a little bit harder they could display the items in such a way that the story comes alive. Unfortunately with the museum as is, you are better off googling the info. We left soon thereafter and thinking back now the only thing that really stood out in the town of Livingstonia was the bread we bought at the Bakery from a lady next to the road. So fresh, so soft…
We moved camp from Lukwe to the Mushroom Eco Farm which in my opinion is the better of the two camps. However, they do have one thing in common and that is their love for toilets (compost toilets at that) with a view. The only problem (other than it being a compost toilet) is that the people walking past have a view of the person on the loo as well. Eye contact is best avoided when walking in that general area.
We pitched our tent right on the edge of the cliff, or as close to it as we both felt save. It was definitely the camp with the most beautiful views directly from our tent. Added to the view was the food. The 100% vegetarian menu would have satisfied even the biggest meat lover out there (me). It was so good, we considered staying another day just so that we can eat there again but unfortunately time was running out – our 30 day free visa period was expiring in 2 days time and we were advised to not try the border on a Sunday and Saturday morning was better than the afternoon. With approximately 100km to the border – and the first 10km that takes at least an hour – we had to be up very early in the morning.
At the crack of dawn we started up Bertus and Woody (I really felt sorry for the other campers!) and made our way down the mountain. As we were about to start our descend Clayton took that moment to tell me that Bertus’ breaks are a bit dodge and that most of the time he is not sure whether we will stop in time, for anything. This he said in a nervous but what-can-you-do, laughing manner. Safe to say the descent was x10 worse.
We obviously made it down in one piece, my trust in Clayton slightly dented but my faith in his driving skills reached a new high. Another You-Cannot item ticked off our list.
Quick Bertus update: he now gets an airlock in the petrol tank so while we drive he just suddenly cuts out. Clayton then just need to open up the petrol cap to let the air our and off we go! Oh, and it also backfires a bit more than before.