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Earlier this year the Travel Malawi Guide team set on a tour for the whole northern region of Malawi. The tour was set from Lilongwe through the Lakeshore areas all the way to Karonga and back through Kasungu.


During the tour we visited almost ten districts as well as a lot of historical sites and national monuments. Some of the historical districts visited were Karonga, Rumphi and Nkhotakota.

 


Nkhotakota District in the central region of Malawi played an important part in Malawi's history. This is the place where Dr. David Livingstone met with slave traders in an attempt to end the slave trade in Malawi. The trees under which Malawi’s first president Late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda held his convention in 1960 is also within the area.

 


Nkhotakota is the largest traditional African town in Malawi and bears a strong Swahili-Arab influence. Nkhotakota’s beautiful and clear beaches of Lake Malawi offer activities like kayaking, snorkelling and cruises, making Nkhotakota a good base for tourists wanting to explore the area with many options for good lodges and resorts. Some of these are the Kwathu Resort, Mlambe beach lodge and Nkhotakota Safari lodge. The famous Nkhotakota Pottery is also in the area where you can be able to see potters at work and buy items from the shop; it's also possible to take a pottery course.


The Wildlife Reserve is another attraction within the area. The reserve is also home to several antelope species, buffalo, elephants and leopards. Tongole Wilderness Lodge and Bua River Lodge are within the reserve with great atmosphere and excellent service.


Most locals are small holder farmers of rice, cassava and maize, while many others are small scale fishermen, who regularly fish along Lake Malawi, Chia Lagoon and many other rivers including; Bua, Dwambazi and Chilua. Another notable antiquity (tourist attraction) in Nkhotakota is the Mawira hot springs, an area of hot water that continuously gushes from the ground since time immemorial. This is where we take you today.

 

 

Chia Lagoon


I looked at my time and it was already 4:30pm. The sun was as bright; strongly felt I would make it to see the Mawira hot springs and back before it gets dark. As always I try to get some information from the locals before starting any trip into the unknown. One thing we as Malawians; always welcoming and friendly people almost everywhere you are. This applies to both the visitor or amongst we locals. In no time I found two young energetic young men who were willing to escort me.

 

 

Robert Banda in blue and Dan Phiri in white shirt were my tour guiders


The first thing I asked was how far and how long it would take to get there. They looked at each other and Robert replied, within an hour we would be back. Seriously, I did not say anything at the time but I had my doubts about the given time, from the look of their faces. The guys explained how it would have been easier with a 4 x 4 car but we would still drive our small car to some point and then walk the rest of the way. They also mentioned about Mchulu river which we would have to cross before the last village, Kasitu which was Ok with me. Then came the news that there has been some crocodile activity on it and two people from the village had been attacked and killed within the last two weeks. Mmmmm!! Now this was not good news at all. The two lads assured me that there are boats always present as long as I had some Kwacha to pay. Hearing that made me relax and enjoy the walk while asking more about their lives and the community.

 

 

The long walk to Mawira hot springs


Surprisengly, we were still walking after 20 minutes and I started wondering if at all these guys were telling me the truth about the time. When I asked again I was just told that we were close.


Half an hour later we arrived at the Mchulu river bank and guess what!!! There was no boat. Can you believe it? Not even one in sight. I could not believe my eyes after that long walk in sand, to get to this point and be stuck.

 

 

This is the Mchulu river, no boat in sight but we need to be on the other side not where we standing right now

 

We started staring at each other without saying any word. I took a short walk around the river and came back to the guys. “I think we can cross, we can do it”, I said to them. My mind was made up and I could not back down. They looked at me in shock and said we were waiting for you to make the decision because we would have crossed anyway.

 

We made a plan to check around first before attempting this dangerous mission. We found one place that was a bit clear and started crossing with each one of us on the lookout and paying attention to detail on any movement and anything unusual in sight. Slowly we walked across and just as we were about to cross that’s when we spotted some eyes from a distance coming towards us. We were all safely across at that time and carried on with our journey as if nothing just happened.

 

 

This was soon after crossing and spotting the crocodile from a distance

 

 

Time to dry the shorts - was deeper than expected

 


When we arrived at the village, we were received with rather surprised faces. “Where are you guys coming from”, one of the elders asked. When we told them, they were shocked and called a young man that was nearly attacked in the earlier hours of the same afternoon at the same place. After few minutes of being grilled at we carried on walking for the next 25 minutes and finally arrived, the Mawira hot springs were in sight.

 

 

Welcome to Mawira hot springs

 

 

This spring was actually boiling

 

 

Wonderful time with the locals


I was very happy and felt mission accomplished. There were so many of them. I could not believe what I saw. The water was so hot. There was a group of children playing around, few fishermen pulling their nets and others enjoying watching me take pictures.

 

 

As always, there is one guy that is happy and does not mind a photoshoot - others were busy pulling the fish net while having a good laugh

 

The hot springs centre has served and continues to serve individuals and communities of both domestic and international origin. The water is believed to cure some skin diseases and fatique. The communities come to bath and also do laundry once in a while. It is also a tourist attraction for the country, though the area is yet to develop a lot.

 


After enjoying myself, taking some photos as always, we started off. It was already after 5:40pm. It was getting dark and we had to hurry. We got lucky this time around as we found a boat at the village which took us across the river for few Kwachas.

 

 

Our return trip - this time we were in a boat passing through the villages and the sun was setting really fast


The sad part about the crocodile activities is that the school which the children from the village go to happens to be on the other side. This meant the children were not attending classes for the last two weeks. I got details for the Member of Parliament for the area and I have made contact for him to help.

 

 

Beautiful sunset while on the boat


I got back to my car at exactly 6:20pm. A trip that was to take an hour had taken almost 2 hours. Please take note; distance and time with my locals  mmmmmm!! Always be on the safe side. When they say its close at times it is not necessarily as close as they make it sound.
I had a great experience, a good time and achieved my goal for the trip.

 

Please do not attempt what I did; you could not be so lucky. I felt this was a story worth sharing especially on the Kawira hot springs. This is one place one should visit but start off early and make sure arrangements are done in good time. Hope you enjoyed reading this short piece.

 

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