Airboats, sugar estates, crocs farms and after dark explorations into the tea plantations of Thyolo…
Wow what a day! 6.15 start for a pick up for us and bikes to get to Kaombe Airboat. Found out its difficult to cycle there from Bangula when there is water in the rivers as there is no bridge on the road; also in dry season like now we could have got to the end of the road and followed the track to the launching place but no one would have known we were there as the boat launch and croc farm are a bit away from the estate office. Best to enter via the main gate to the Kaombe Sugar Estate. Very helpful Simon from the airboat met us , explained the trip and said he could arrange transport to the airboat from any accommodation nearby. Introduced us to very bird knowledgeable ranger. Robert, who took us on a fantastic 3 hour boat trip hovering above the elephant marsh plains. Storks and fishermen with local fishing techniques looked spectacular. Black heron especially good.
Continued afterwards on the S152 to fatima then s151 over beautiful hills, dreadful red dirtroad in sun down then dark. Roads constantly full of people of all ages. 2 thirds of way ran out of petrol and coasted into village for first 10 litres of black market petrol served up in cooking oil bottles. 2nd petrol top up needed due to lengthy after dark exploration of conforzi tea plantation…maps.me got Thyolo house wrong, locals never heard of it. Picked up 2 different tea factory guards and went to sports club…still could not locate it even though they all said they knew where it was . Police check point let us through 6 times.
Eventually Simon from the morning got hold of Max who called and told our driver where it was. Rocked up to locked gates and for a moment we all thought we could not raise anyone until welcome torchlight and a man arrived. Daniel our wonderful driver drove back to Blantyre on main road after driving us for 9 hours! Great roast beef dinner and cold beers greeted us as well as working hot showers, splendid spacious clean colonial bedrooms and quirky lived in old house with even a piano!
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