You have to admit that there is definitely something very exciting about taking a ferry across the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest in Africa. Ferry rides do not always have to be on the open seas and taking the Mv Ilala on lake Malawi is a must do if you love adventure. The Mv Ilala has been operating on lake Malawi since 1951 and remains to be the most important means of long-distance transport for the people living along the Lake. Every week the ferry leaves monkey bay and travels all the way up north of Malawi near Tanzania before travelling back down. Along the way the ferry makes several stops to pick up and drop passengers who are brought in via `boat taxis`.Do not expect a luxury cruise on the ferry .They have presentable cabins that you can book and this automatically grants you access to the deck where you can sit at the bar and sip your Malawi green as you enjoy the stunning landscape and get a glimpse of remote Malawian life. The ferry stops by both the Malawi and Mozambique coast.
We left Cape Maclear and headed to the port at monkey bay to take the ferry to Nkhata bay which would be a two day trip. However when we were buying tickets they told us all the cabins were taken and our only option would be sleeping on the deck for two nights!! Two nights! Dammit travel gods!what the fudge!. Good thing we had met this amazing Dutch girls Eva and Jinske who came up with the idea maybe we could all just head out to Likoma island. Then we could all sleep on the deck for one night since they had also missed a cabin, stay at the island for three days and wait for the next ferry to take us all to Nkhata bay!. Random plans are the best and right there on the spot we bought tickets to Likoma Island which is just by Mozambique but on the Malawi coast. So is it cool if i low-key claim that i have been to Mozambique? 😀
The deck was pretty chill and we even met a group of other travelers who had missed cabins too. Perks of sitting at the deck is you get to enjoy wonderful changing views of different villages, the comings and goings of local passengers which can be quite something for first timers. Also you might see kids rowing out to see the ferry on a canoe all alone! Like did i mention lake Malawi is the second deepest lake in Africa! Totally badass and scary for me he he. You can order lunch at the bar on the deck, which we did and it was surprisingly okay. The sun on the deck is Savage though, ensure you have some good sunscreen with you.
When nightfall came, we made a `bed` using our bags as pillows. Eva and Jinske happened to have a hammock which was very practical as they could tie it up and switch turns sleeping on it. Definitely thinking of getting us hammocks for our next adventure 🙂 Perks of sleeping on the deck could vary from watching stars all night because well it could be hard sleeping or you get to witness the most gorgeous sunset and sunrise. Its spectacular. A disadvantage of sleeping on the deck is if the ferry runs into a swarm of flies! Yikes! Trust me you don`t want that. Its disgusting and seeing the swarms from afar gave me shivers, so happy we did not have to encounter that. If you plan on taking the Mv Ilala i would advice you to book your tickets in advance if you want a cosy cabin but if you want the deck experience, just show up like we did ;-). Its safe to say my first ferry ride on a Lake was interesting.I am very curious what most of you think about this. Let me know by leaving your comments below ;-).
Yogie On The Move.