19/03/25, stage 47, Mbeya to Karonga

After a great restday yesterday, we rode into Malawi today, leaving beautifull Tanzania behind. Country number 5 done, starting country number 6.

It was a 115k ride from our camp in Mbeya to the border. I think I didn’t expect anything more from

Tanzania during this last stretch than what we have already seen during the last two weeks. It’s just been stunning… The arid bushlands. The volcanic mountains. The Serengeti. The Ngorongoro crater. The rift valley. The big granite boulders. The dirt road. The jungle. The climb before comming into Mbeya. All the wildlife. The friendly people. All the amazing kids. The language with words like Mzungu (white person), Jambo (hello) and Karibu (welcome). Tanzania has already been very good to us. But today’s ride made that experience even better!

During the first 30k we climbed out of Mbeya. It was a comfortable climb while the morning air was still cool. After those first 30k we started a long descent from 2500m to just 500m over 85k. And during those 85k we left the very nice and comfortable climate of the 2500m altitude behind and had it gradually replaced by heat and humidity. We saw vegetation change. Dens forestry and pastures became banana and tea plantations and these on their turn became rice fields. After lunch at 70k we got our first look on lake Malawi, lying in the distance, surrounded by the highlands that we were descending from.

The ride was just amazing. Views were spectacular, we mainly rode down hill, we crossed another border and scenery has changed in a spectacular fashion, being completely different from anything we’ve seen before during this trip! We ended the day at camp at the shore of the lake. And there is nothing better than to end a hot day on the bike and walk straight into the water to get refreshed and then have a drink at the bar overlooking the lake.

What a day… We’ll miss beautiful beautiful Tanzania. We’re looking forward to exploring Malawi!

Leaving Mbeya at dawn through the morning rush hour…

2500m, top of the hill, being level with the clouds…

A bit lower, riding among banana plantations

Banana trees as far as the eye can see…

A bit lower, tea plantations…

First look at lake Malawi!

It’s really there!

After the border we reached the flats surrounding the lake.

Dominated by rice paddies

And then we reached the shore… The mountains we descended from towering over the lake at the horizon. Skies filled with thunder clouds…

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