‘Must do’s whilst at the Cape

 

Bored of lazing on the beach all day?  Here are some great activities for you to enjoy whilst at the Cape.

 

Boat Trip to Thumbi Island

This usually takes half a day.  The local guides collect you from your lodge and take you across to the Island.

Along the way, feed the fish eagles, (great for photographers) and get to see the village from a different view.

Whilst swimming and snorkelling in the little coves, the guides will prepare you a delicious fish BBQ with rice and relish and the fresh catch of the day.

 

Top tip – don’t forget your snorkel and goggles.

 

Kayaking to Otter Point

Hire a kayak for the day and head over to Thumbi Island or to Otter point which is a must see.

As the name suggests, otters can sometimes be seen.  Otter Point is in the national park and is great for snorkelling.

There is a whole array of brightly coloured Cichlids to be seen.  This is also a great spot for diving with an underwater dive route to follow.

Top Tip – take bread to feed the fish.

 

Hiking to Msaka

This little village seldom visited by tourists is about a four km hike from Cape Maclear.

Head to the far end of the village towards Otter Point and find the small path running above the lake.

This leads you through woodlands and offers some stunning views of the area.

From Msaka, head back to the main dirt road following it back to the Cape.

 

Top tip – set yourself a full day for this hike and take plenty of water.

 

Village Walk

Grab a guide or do it yourself.

Head down to the market and stock up on supplies for dinner.  It’s a great little market selling all that you would expect to find in a village market.

Watch out for the hand crafted curio sellers along the way-there are always great bargains to be found.

At the opposite end of the village is Cape Maclear National Park which has an aquarium and museum, small but worth a look.

Just before arriving at the park gates you will see a small path leading up to the missionary’s graves – the last resting place of missionaries who tried to establish a mission centre at The Cape.

 

Top tip – buy fresh fish from the local fisherman for the evening BBQ

 

Please be aware that when choosing a boat trip many touts will try to persuade you to go on one of their boats.  Make sure that you only go with a guide who is a member of the tour guide association.  Ask at your lodge if you are not sure.

Getting to The ‘Cape’

Getting to The Cape, as it is affectingly known, proves fairly simple for the traveller although it may take much longer than initially expected – transport may be slow, roads may be bad and a whole host of other minor inconveniences may arise – be prepared for this – this is Malawi!

Ok, so, if you are heading to the lake you will most likely catch either a bus, minibus ,matolla or grab a lift from a fellow traveller.
What I can say is that, other than a private vehicle, there is no direct transport to The Cape. I will get onto this a bit later.

There is a great bus service from both Lilongwe and Blantyre leaving at roughly 6am – AXA buses. Buy your ticket on the bus and make sure that you arrive early to secure your seat.
The bus tends to fill up quickly with passengers, animals and just about everything else you can think of and I can assure you that standing for the whole trip is not in the least bit pleasant.
If you do happen to get off the bus at some point during the journey, possibly for a road block, the etiquette when boarding is to take your same seat.
The trip takes about 6 hours and passes through beautiful scenery arriving in Monkey Bay at roughly 1pm.

The next option is to travel by minibus – more often than not there will not be a direct minibus to The Cape, meaning that you will have to change minibuses at various points.
The trip could take a few hours or a whole day depending on how long it takes for each minibus to fill up with passengers before it departs.
minibuses also tend to stop after dark so you may find yourself in a little village somewhere for the night. You should always be able to get a seat although it can be cramped especially if you have your backpack on your lap for the entire journey.

If you are travelling in a private car – there are two routes that you could take from Lilongwe, either via Salima or Dedza.
Although the Salima route is longer in terms of kilometres, in fact it is a quicker drive.
The Dedza route is shorter in kilometres but takes you down a breathtakingly beautiful winding mountain pass limiting your speed.
I would recommend this route for the scenery and a stop at Dedza Pottery for some lunch and to browse the crafts – highly recommended.
A few Km before Monkey Bay, you will see a petrol station on the left hand side and the turn off to The Cape.
Take the time to fill up here as there is no petrol station in Cape Maclear.
This is the last leg of the journey and is about 20km. Initially the road is gravel and then it turns to tar.

Ok as mentioned earlier, no transport goes directly to the Cape (other than a private vehicle of course). Busses, minibuses and matollas all stop at the ‘main’ bus station in Monkey Bay.
Hop off here, grab something to eat, visit the market and ATM (there is no ATM in The Cape) and wait until the matolla fills ups.
Again, you could be lucky when you arrive and it’s just about to leave or you could be unlucky and have to wait a few hours for it to fill up.
This is the last part of the trip- rouglty 20km to the Lake – let the driver know where you will be staying and he will drop you off at your lodge.

It’s not always about the destination – Enjoy your journey!