What if I told you that you could do a week long African safari for under $500 USD? I wouldn’t blame you for calling me a liar. But it’s absolutely possible.
Our month in Malawi was like nothing else. We’d seen so much and loved having the time to soak up the culture of this wonderful country. We’d also spent A LOT of time in terrible transport and very basic accommodation, so we decided to enjoy a little luxury in Lilongwe for a couple of days before moving on to Zambia.
There wasn’t a whole lot to report from our time in Lilongwe, except for an attempted pickpocketing incident as soon as we stepped off they minibus. In fact, we weren’t going to write a blog from here at all. And then we meet Vittoria.
Vittoria is an Italian Australian woman who was staying in our guest house. As tends to happen when we meet Aussies abroad, we got talking about what an embarrassment Tony Abbott is.
As it turns out, Vittoria was in Lilongwe for a very sad reason. A few years ago, after completing a world record breaking quad bike ride (and raising $100,000 for OXFAM), her son Daniel was struck by a speeding car and killed. She was in Lilongwe to prepare a ceremony in his honour.
Vittoria amazed us with her outlook and told us of the foundation she started in his name, The Valerio Daniel de Simoni Association
Continuing his charity work, the foundation works with refugees, asylum seekers and other disadvantaged groups around Sydney. We were amazed by Vittoria’s strength and her ability to turn her loss into a gift.
We would encourage anyone in Sydney who had been considering donating some time to the disadvantaged to get in touch with the foundation.
A large elephant emerged from behind one of the chalets. We heard one of the owners of the South Luangwa lodge we were staying at say “Oh, this elephant is quite unconventional, stay still. Don’t move!” From our seat on the very edge of the patio we watched silently as the elephant moved toward us. As it stopped in front of us the scale was apparent. It’s head was larger than our head and torso combined with tusks stretching on for what felt like forever. I stayed frozen as the huge beast sniffed all over Leckie, brushing its trunk against his arm. Then, knocking Leckie’s wine glass over, it moved on to me. My heart pounded as it sniffed me and I closed my eyes to quell a moment of panic.
My what a trip! Nkhotakota to Cape Maclear is probably the most challenging journey we’ve completed to date, but was not entirely unenjoyable. In fact, the first minivan (share taxi, often with 24 people or so in its 11 seats), to Salima, was a great time.
The road to Nkhata Bay brought us through Mzuzu, a large town with a South African supermarket. What wonders that store held! Not only was I able to purchase conditioner after going without for the last month, but there were even hot, fresh sausage rolls. As we devoured our treats outside the store, pastry flying everywhere and sticking to our faces, a man came to us and asked, “Is this a Christmas party?” A confusing conversation ensued and it turns out that the only reason you would be standing while eating/eating at 10:30am would be because you were at a Christmas party. I’m still a little confused!