We had a quiet St. Paddy’s day; we toured the local Carlsberg Brewery. The guide book said the tour started at 2:30 so we got there at 2:32. When we walked in, they said “you’re late! You’re friends are already here!” We looked at each other, wondering who had secretly invited friends. Turns out, the tour started at 2:00 and our “friends” were seven strangers from Michigan. As we approached, the Malawian tour guide shook his head and said that he was sorry, we missed it. This, the hot, loud, bottling room was the last stop on the tour. We tried to look as pathetic as possible and begged him to take us to see something. He thought about it a minute and then told the poor Michiganites to stay put while he ran us through the tour. We really did run too – we saw just as much as we needed/wanted to see and it took exactly fifteen minutes. The Michiganites, stuck in that humid, noisy bottling room, gave us very dirty looks when we got back. The very best part of the tour was the tasting. We expected it to be like a tasting in America where you get a thimble sized sample of beer. Instead, you sit at long tables where they bring out trays upon trays of full beers and you can drink as much as you want before they close. The other great part of the tour is that the Carlsberg slogan is “probably the best beer in the world.” I love that. Probably the best – not entirely certain and there’s no guarantee, but in their humble opinion, it tops every other beer…in the entire world.
Thursday we had an early start to meet the boat transfer to Mvuu Camp. The camp, where we were spending the night, is situated deep within Liwonde National park and is one of the premier safari camps in Malawi. Wilderness Safaris had told us that it would be a real problem if we missed the boat… so….we got there two hours early. Luckily, the national park ranger was there to collect our fees and entertain us with stories of being gored by a rhino and almost being eaten by a crocodile so the time passed quickly and we were soon loaded up and on the river.
The river is wide and slow, and full of fisherman casting nets from their tiny dugout canoes. While it was a beautiful day, we could see a storm in the distance and the rain falling in great gray columns. It wasn’t long before our guide slowed down and pulled close to a island where a large group of hippos were hanging out. They are so cute! They have these tiny little ears and they look up at you from the water, kind of curious, but kind of territorial.
A few minutes later, we caught up to the storm. It really felt like we crossed a line; the temperature dropped immediately, the water went from calm to choppy and there were huge claps of thunder. We beat the rain, though and after a beautiful 45 minute ride, we pulled into the Mvuu camp.
They carried our bags for us and welcomed us with a fresh mango drink, which we enjoyed in the main lodge while getting a brief orientation. Basically, the most important rule was that we couldn’t wander around the camp at night because there’s no fence and we could get eaten by a crocodile or tramped by a hippo.
We relaxed and unpacked into our beautiful chalets right by the water. After about an hour of resting in the chalets, we were ready for our afternoon safari ride in the big land rover.