|We were advised by an American Harvard grad whom I inadvertantly stole $10 from (sorry kevin) that we must see Nkhata Bay, stay in Mayoka Village and Dive with Aqua Africa. Those 3 pieces of advice were probably the best we've received all trip and certainly not deserving of the petty crime that followed.
We managed to hitch a ride back from the beach to the bus station and then embarked on another pretty horrendous bus journey from Senga Bay to Nkhata Bay (apparently about 4 million miles away, but it doesn't look like it on the map!) We left at 7.30am and arrived a about 6pm although ostensibly the journey should only have lasted 7 hours. I have, of course learned that when people tell you anything out here and its not the lonely planet or fellow travellers you must do the following:
For ETA's multiply by 2
For Price divide by 3
For 'Yes' read 'No' (and visa versa)
For either 'Yes' or 'No' be prepared to interpret 'I don't know' etc
Mayoka Village is a collection of mud huts, bamboo and stone chalets, dorms and a failrly well equiped, well stocked and well frequented bar. We were intending to stay just long enough to complete a 5 day PADI Open Water Scuba Diving course and then head for Vwaza Marsh and Nyika National Parks - we ended up staying for 16 days (which in my opinion was still not long enough) and failing to get to either of the northern parks. I had gunned for one of the bamboo chalets with double bed, sofa, balcony, hammock and private beach for $7 ! Anna (feeling that this was extravagent) decided on a mud hut (for $3). Our diving was postponed for a bit due to us both getting slaughtered the night before we were due to start, but then began in earnest a few days later.
The pictures I have added so far are (obviously) the underwater ones but more will follow when I can find a computer with a CD drive!
We both qualified, needless to say, despite never abiding by the 2 beers per night rule which was supposed to be observed for some pedantic reason such as - you die if you drink too much and then dive!
We were both really taken with Nkhata Bay and met some great people and had a lot of fun diving - When we finally had to leave (which was postponed futher by anna getting ill (I was of course, delighted!!)) It felt like going through childbirth (from the baby's perspective). But if any of you are thinking about visiting Malawi then stay here and prepare to spend weeks.
I would in true Oscar-fashion like to thank and wish the following people the best on their continued travels:
Kate - for cleaning up Anna's sick (which I frankly was never going to do!) and for staying in Mayoka nearly as long as us!
Tom and Matt for dive buddying and consistent comic genius - good luck in the states
Alex and Fraziska for being good fun, funny and really nice.
Dusty and Stephanie for excellent diving and many laughs.
Katherine and Gary for running such an excellent place.
(I'm off to have a small cry now, and then several beers!)