Rumphi to Karonga
Rumphi to Chitimba 88km
We got up at 5, only to find that my bike had a flat back tyre. Half awake, I half fixed it. Normally I'm very thorough, because I hate punctures, but I was still half asleep and couldn't find the cause.
After a very nice breakfast, we left Adios and set off toward the lake. It was straightforward at first with a very scenic undulating road. After a couple of hours, our way was blocked by the last ridge before the lake. We climbed steadily up steep climbs until – at the worst possible moment, my tyre went flat again.
We felt that as it had got us over 50km, we could maybe pump and try to make it to Chitimba. Changing the tube wasn't an option as the heat was incredible by now, and there were also a crowd of about 20 kids screaming at us to give them money/ a pencil/ our water bottles/ a kidney…that sort of thing.
We managed to get to the top of the hill and set off down a steep, impossibly spectacular descent, on an increasingly squidgy rear tyre.
Before long, I had to stop again, and as I pumped, Annette got into a rock throwing contest with a big baboon that was still stinging from an unsuccessful attempt to bring down a small family car. Surprisingly, Annette won and a sullen baboon sat waiting for the next car to attack.
After several more pumps, the onset of exhaustion, my core temperature about one degree below boiling point, we both realised that the game was over. We were only 500m from the camp entrance, and we couldn't pump, and couldn't push for fear of damaging the tyre. Annette went on a rescue mission. She came back with “Big Jack” and his matola to drive us the 500m.
We installed ourselves at Hakuna Matata, and after a quick Green, fixed the bike. It took a long time!
We had a great meal cooked by Marta, some high quality chat with Willie, the owner (a real character), and settled down to what was undoubtedly our worst night’s sleep so far!
Chitimba to Karonga 90km
This was a crazy night. After keeping an eye on the other residents with opposable thumbs, a troop of monkeys, and some noisy partying from the locals, we settled, bathed in sweat to try to rest. It was crazy hot, and before long there was a really fierce storm. Sleep was impossible, we got up at 4.30 and put the Trangia on for a strong cup of coffee.
Willie, who is a really interesting guy, agreed to take our bags in his truck to the main road as we pushed the bikes through deep, soft sand. Good showers, good food, good company; Hakuna Matata gets a big thumbs up from us!
Once on the road, we sweated and toiled our way along the road to Karonga. Despite good progress, with a strong tailwind, the heat was always uncomfortable.
At Ngara, we were suddenly hit from behind by a storm. We couldn't ride - we ran for cover and sheltered in a disused building. It was really freakish. You shouldn't get this weather in the dry season!
We eventually arrived in Karonga and settled in at the very decent Kapata Lodge, to maintain bikes, wash some very dirty clothes, and type this up.
Across the border to Tanzania tomorrow!