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  The 312 km Cycle
 
 
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The 312km Cycle.

 

From Chembe Village, Cape Maclear to Bua River Lodge, Nkhotakota by Bicycle

 

How did it all start?

 

I had always wanted to visit Bua River Lodge in Nkhota-kota because I found the place so ideal as a getaway and peaceful destination. After spending quite some time on their website, my mind was made up to visit the place. I started looking at options on how I would get there; out of the blue Cycling came up. At first was just one of the suggestions I had but with time I realized that is exactly what I wanted to do. YES, as crazy as it sounds my mind was made up. I will cycle to Bua River Lodge from Cape Maclear, where I live and work.


I have been cycling for a few years now and have always wanted to go on a cycle holiday but never got around to finding a place I could cycle to and never felt I was fit enough. The longest cycle I had done prior to this was 50kms in a day with a friend on a road that I knew and could easily; get a lift if I got too tired.

 

In order to get this done, I had to be fit and have a well-balanced diet. The timing was perfect as I had started working on a 100 days detox of no alcohol, no cigarettes, healthy eating and lots of exercise the year before. It went so well that I decided to do it every year.  I was already over a week into my detox and was feeling fit and healthy. This helped me to get my level of fitness even better within a short time. So I decided why not? I was going to cycle to Bua River Lodge.

 

First step was to work out exactly how far away Bua River Lodge was from Cape Maclear. Google earth told me by car it would take 4hrs 6mins and was 291kms. It didn’t seem so bad!


The next step was to work out where I would stop for the night and how much I would have to cycle each day.  As I was travelling alone, I had to make sure I had somewhere safe to spend the night. I emailed John, the owner of Bua River Lodge and told him what I was planning. He was really helpful and suggested places I could stop at for the night. I put these stops into Google earth and the total distance was now 312kms!!!

 

 

What I carried along with


I carried about 1.5 – 2litres of water and topped up as I went along, from shops and bore holes. It is advisable to take water purifiers depending on how strong your tummy is. Lucky for me I did not need any. I must say water is heavy to cycle with.

 

You cannot start that long trip without a first aid kit. Either source one from the Pharmacies or put a number of things together yourself. It cost about MK5000 from pharmavet at wholesale. My roommate sorted out something for me. My kit contained pain killers, bandages, plasters, malaria test, malaria treatment, and diarrhea treatment, zambuc, Deep heat cream (that I used right after my shower when I arrived, not to be used before you cycle)a scissors, Dettol, antiseptic ointment and a knife. If you have allergies please remember to take your antihistamine. I forgot to get mine and nearly got in a big trouble at Bua River Lodge. I got stung by a wasp and had an allergic reaction so lucky that Bua River Lodge had some; otherwise I would have had to be rushed to the hospital.

 

I packed instant jungle oats, lots of oranges (great energy source), apples, glucose energy food, biltong, snickers bar of chocolate and bought cold drinks and bananas along the way. I also took some ORS rehydration salts that i topped up to my drinking water with as it helps with dehydration and cramping of muscles

 

 
 
My simple medical aid
 
My food and fruits

 

My first day was to cycle from Cape Maclear to Mua Mission, 100kms away.  It was going to be a long hard day but it could be done. The second day was from Mua Mission to Kuti Game Reserve in Salima, 82kms. Third day was Kuti Game Reserve to Bua River Lodge, 130kms! This really worried me, could I cycle 130kms in a day? I started to ask friends who also cycle what they thought about the last 130km. It was decided that it was too much to do in a day, so we went back to Google earth and found Fish Eagle Bay Lodge, just before Nkhotakota centre, making it 100kms for the third day and then 30km for the last day. I was happy to extend the cycling for one more day and I got to visit one more place.Now I had a plan all I had to do was train and learn how to fix my tyre if I got a puncture.

 

I had two and half weeks to get ready.  As it was rainy season and I still had to go to work, all of my training other than one 90km cycle was done indoors, on an exercise bike in the gym at home. I decided I needed to cycle for a minimum of three hours a day to be fit enough to cycle to Bua River Lodge without crying. With each training cycle I became fitter and faster. I ate healthy and took rest days, didn’t cycle the last three days and got a lesson on changing a tube from Mr Sofaya, who services my bike.

 

 

I was nervous and excited and couldn’t wait to hit the road. The road trip was finally on..

 

DAY ONE

 

Started off from Cape Maclear in my Cape Maclear Cycle Club t-shirt which I wore for some of the days. I cycled to Mua Mission.

 

 

 

 
 
All ready and set to GO
 
Started off

 

 

Mua Mission is such an amazing place, everyone should visit this place at least once. Chikondi who is in charge was so accommodating. Rooms were nice and food was great. Their art gallery had so many beautiful pieces of work, it is nice to see a place that promotes MALAWIAN culture so well.

 

 

These are some of the pictures taken around the Mission.


 
     
Mua Mission Welcomes you all
 
Kungoni Art Gallery
     
 
     
Mua Mission Church
 

Look who I found in the art gallery

     

It was just after the heavy rains and found some parts of the Mtakataka road destroyed.

 

This was the crew fixing the road, cars could not get across but people and bicycles  got

a lift across.

 

 
     

 

This is where Malawi, scores. The friendly locals are always there to help. I managed to get over the damaged part without a problem but for all those with cars, surely was a long

way back.

 

After few kilometers I decided to take a short break and also have something to eat.

 

 
     

 

NOTE: Scheduled food breaks are very important, it is better to eat before all your energy runs out and you crash. I cycled for three hours and took my first break, between 15-20mins for me was perfect, becareful not to make food breaks too long otherwise you start to get lazy and your muscles start to relax and tighten up. All my breaks after the first one were at two hour intervals.

 

 
     

Stopped by Golomoti filling station, that cocopina was so good.

 

The trip from Cape Maclear to Mua took me 9hrs 15mins for the first 100kms.

 

 

DAY TWO

Started off from Mua to Kuti Game Reserve in Salima, 82kms. I managed to get to Kuti in no time and watched the animals close by. Had a wonderful rest and ready for the cyle the following day to Fish Eagle Lodge which was 100km away.

 

 
Arrival at Kuti Wildlife Ranch
 
Camel
     
 
An ostrich
Zebra

 

The trip from Mua mission to kuti took me 5hrs 30min for the 82kms.

 

DAY THREE

 

Kuti Wildlife Ranch was great but I still had a lot of mileage to cover. On the third day I

had to do 100km to get to Fish Eagle Bay Lodge, just before Nkhotakota centre.

 

Arriving at Fish Eagle Lodge was so cool because I could feel that I was close to Bua River

Lodge. Checked in a lovely room, watched the lovely sunset and took a relaxed walk

along the beach. There is so much to see around. Nkhotakota pottery is also a

walking distance from the lodge.

 

 

 

Fish Eagle Lodge

 

 
Bautiful sunset from the lodge
 
My lovely room

 

Took a walk to Nkhotakota pottery.

 

 
 

 

 

I took about an hour from Fish Eagle Lodge to Nkhotakota town where I spent some

time touring around. I started off after visiting all the historical places and within an hour

and a half I had arrived at Bua River Lodge.

 

There is lots of history in Nkhotakota. These are some of the places I visited.

 

 
 
In memory of Dr Livingstone's return to   Department of Antiquities - Under this
Nkhotakota in 1963   tree Dr. Kamuzu Banda held his first
    convention in 1960

 

The trip from Kuti Ranch to Fish Eagle Bay, Nkhotakota took 8hrs 30min for the 100kms

 

DAY FOUR

 

Day four was a much relaxed day as I had to cycle only the last 30km. Finally I arrived at the gate to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. I was only few minutes to Bua River Lodge

 

 

 

 
     

 

Then BOOM

 

 

I arrived and mission accomplished. I was feeling tired but the excitement was awesome. I had finally achieved the goal with no problems at all. Now was the time to catch up with John and also enjoy being there for the first time.

 

These are some of the pictures from Bua River Lodge. It is a must GO place in Malawi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A big THANK YOU to Kay de Silva for being so brave to cycle all alone all that 312km. Please if you enjoyed reading that piece do SHARE it to friends that love chalenges and reading a good story.

 

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