On one of my early visits to Malawi, I took a team of 20 to Mvuu Lodge after our week long service adventure. Mvuu in the main tribal language in Malawi, Chichewa, means Hippo.
By the time we arrived we were exhausted, hot and dusty. We used a car/driver rental company that a friend recommended. It was the only trip I hired them, and probably the last, and I am usually pretty easy to please. I will share that story another time. But in a nutshell, we spent 8 hours in a hot van to make what we were told was a 4 hour trip.
Arriving at Mvuu, you can take a boat to ferry across the Shire River to the Lodge. I love this! It is one of my favorite things about Mvuu. I actually loved everything about Mvuu, but the boat rides were the icing on the cake for me. I remember feeling so embarrassed as the luggage was unloaded from the van into the boat. We had a lot of stuff.
Once we checked into the lodge the memory of the miserable ride began to fade. The staff and guides were incredible to work and chat with. One of the first things they told us as they pointed out the reinforcing signage was, “Don’t feed the monkey’s”. I think my team needed a few more lessons on how to do this properly, because I know of a couple of monkeys who took bacon off of a fork seconds before it would have been in the guests mouth. They were sneaky and fast! It would be so shocking to have them come right at you, and the defensive reactions were not always fast enough. I would not mind sharing the food, but the staff told us that if humans feed the monkeys, then the monkeys are euthanized. I could not deal with that pressure, so I encouraged the team to win every battle. 🙂
The lodges were beautiful, rustic buildings with thatched grass roofs. We could hear the monkeys and baboons run across the roofs at night. It took me a while to get used to the small lizards that lived in the room with us. A combination of exhaustion and comfortable beds allowed me to sleep and not care who or what was in the room.
The guides were wonderful. I loved how patient they were when questions were asked and they would provide so much detail. I thought they must have to answer the same questions day after day, but they answered every question with kindness. The game drives were great, but I loved the boat drives the most. It was a bit eery to know that a very large hippo might be resting right under the path of the boat. I think hippos and crocodiles are the animals I fear, and knowing we were floating with them made me nervous. But as always, keeping eyes on the horizon and knowing we were traveling to see the elephants, I managed to get past the fear.
It is always sad to leave a beautiful place, but I am grateful for the memories.