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Mushroom Farm & Livingstonia

From the main North-South road we turn inland and climb directly up a steep mountainside for six miles, gaining an enormous amount of elevation with each tight switchback turn. For most of the road I’m in low range 4×4, though the Jeep climbs steadily without issue. When we arrive at Mushroom Farm we already know we’ll stay a couple of days.

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Camping on the edge of the mountains at Mushroom Farm

This is a permaculture hostel / campsite / restaurant set on the mountainside high above Lake Malawi not far from the famous town of Livingstonia. Malawi is crawling with volunteers, all of whom appear to come to Mushroom Farm on their days off and weekends. Soon it’s busy with other travellers too, and we quickly meet a bunch of people backpacking the East Coast. It’s been a long time since I have seen a genuine backpacker, and I’m told to expect a lot more at least until Nairobi in Kenya.

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Hiking to the mountain top in the far distance!

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Enjoying the lake views

In the morning we set out on a hike to a stunning viewpoint over the lake, and after a huge day of hiking we finish at the Manchewe Waterfall, famous for the cave underneath where locals hid from slave traders.

Nearby we checkout the famous Livingstonia, littered with monuments and old buildings from Scottish missionaries who came here in 1894. The town is at the perfect elevation to have a mild climate, and added to the expansive views it’s easy to see why the missionaries chose the location.

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Manchewe Falls, hiding the cave behind

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In the cave behind Manchewe Falls

With all the volunteers and foreign governments helping in Malawi, we have found it hard to get to know local people. Unfortunately we’re simply seen as a source of money or free stuff, which makes conversation or friendship difficult.
Malawi is clearly poorer than other countries I have visited in Eastern Africa, and with one of the highest population densities on the continent, the few resources they do have don’t stretch very far.

We have throughly enjoyed our time in Malawi, but unfortunately we have not connected to the people as much as in previous countries. For the entire time we never felt as if we’re on the same level as locals, and so we just couldn’t connect.

The next country is simply enormous, and also very diverse. I’m really looking forward to this one!

-Dan

2 Responses

  1. Joseph says:

    Loving the blog so far, but I had to say to this one point:

    “For the entire time we never felt as if we’re on the same level as locals, and so we just couldn’t connect.”

    You never felt like you we’re on the same level as locals because you never were. In the end you still have a fancy jeep and thousands of dollars in electronics and clean food/water and malaria vaccines, things they don’t and so you will never be on the same level.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Joseph,

      You are right that while I’m in the Jeep I’m never on the same level. However, in a lot of other countries once I walk around at street level I feel like we can at least converse and interact like people on the same level.
      Not so in Malawi.

      -Dan

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