I am definitely one for striding off the beaten path, so I was really happy when on my ride down to the South of Malawi I happened upon a hidden gem, Africa Wild Truck.
As some of you know, I’ve set off on my second big bike adventure, this time travelling up to Amsterdam to host an exhibition next August.
After my first tire puncture ever, getting back on my steed (my motorbike NooNoo) felt so good. I spent a good amount of time getting the wheel off and the tube out to mend it, which was such an effort that l don’t want to repeat any time soon. As soon as everything was a go, it was a short ride from Zomba to Mulanje: an hour and 15 minutes, pretty fast considering the lunch time traffic in Limbe. This was probably one of my easiest rides, with an overcast sky and not a drop of rain. I was sheltered by the clouds from the very hot Malawian heat.
Africa Wild Truck has been my second stop in Malawi. It’s tucked away on the further side of Mulanje Massif, about 6km from the border with Mozambique and 80km from Blantyre, which is why a lot of people don’t know about it.
The small lodge, dorm and camping is in the heart of the tea plantation, and offers great views of Mulanje Mountain, with its eleven waterfalls, and the big rolling clouds of the Chiperoni – it feels like a home away from home, a Malawian version of Table Mountain.
The dorm is really spacious, with a fully fitted kitchen and toilets, but the showers are only cold. The small campsite can host about three or four tents comfortably, and campers share one toilet and shower next to the restaurant. In the lodge there are only two rooms, which means the place is quiet and there’s a very exclusive, though not pretentious vibe. The rooms are quite large and nicely decorated: they both have a lovely fireplace and open up onto the garden, where guests can sit in the shade, enjoying a delicious Italian espresso looking at the mountain.
And that’s the real selling point of Africa Wild Truck: the food. The set menu offers amazing three-course feasts of Italian food, including the most delicious pizza and ice cream in Malawi. Everything is homemade – bread, jams, honey, yoghurt – and the portions are very generous.
However Africa Wild Truck is not just a lodge. They are a safari tour operator, organising trips in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia mainly, but also offering hikes up the mountain, and day trips around Mulanje, for example to the beautiful Dziwe La Nkhalamba waterfalls at Likhubula, where you can freshen up in the cold waters coming from the mountain after about an hour hike.
On top of all of this, recently they have set up their own charity called Around AWT, which has opened a primary school and a computer LAB for the local communities. This is one of the schools I helped through my art, with a donation that contributed to refurbishing a kitchen to cook porridge for breakfast for all the students from September 2018.
Whilst at the lodge, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Arianna Meschia who will be joining me for part of the trip and will be collaborating with Tourism Guide Africa as well, with reviews and pictures of the places we’ll be staying at.
Food: 5 out of 5
Accommodation: 4.5 out of 5
What to do: 4 out of 5
Staff: 5 out of 5
Affordability: 4 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5
Words : Reggie Khumalo
Pictures : Stefano Pesarelli