Senga Bay and Lilongwe Jan 25th to 27th by PaulThe ferry from Monkey Bay left at 10, but the guys wanted to get there at about 9 so they could buy tickets and get organised. It sounds like a very popular ferry for both tourists and the locals so there could be the chance that there would be a long queue. The only problem with that plan was that when we got up in the morning it was raining again, so we had to pack everything wet into the car. When we arrived where the ferry would be leaving it was very quiet, no queues. We waited until the guys had bought their tickets and everything was fine and then we headed off. We planned to only go as far as Salima which was a couple of hundred kilometres. When we had driven to Cape MacClear a week earlier we noticed some guys that had made wooden toys, and they had some Land Rover Defenders made out of wood that looked very cool. They had a little shack and a whole lot of different types of toys made from wood, and even a little sign saying "Toys'R'Us", so we pulled over and bought a little defender, check out the pics.We arrived there early afternoon, and picked a campsite that the guide book said had a laundry and was attached to the Livingstone Hotel, that was supposedly very grand. We found a place to camp and we were told the laundry was at the hotel, we eventually found it, after wondering about the nice hotel, but the prices were also expensive hotel prices so we decided to do it ourselves.We did the washing and relaxed by the lake with a couple of drinks. We decided to cook for ourselves rather than go to the hotel. We were running low on supplies so it was rice, with various canned vegetables. There had been a Korean family arrive late in the afternoon and we chatted to them, they lived in Lilongwe and ran a restaurant lodge and just came to the lake for a night to get away from it all. They were very intrigued by our vehicle and realised how little they had for camping. Later as we were cooking our meagre meal, the wife came over the check out what we were up to, she looked at what we were prefaring, turned her nose up at it, and stated very matter of factly, "I'm cooking T-bones, I'm going to bring you one", and off she went to return 10 minutes later with a nice juicy T-bone, well at least I thought it was great!We realised after dinner that maybe we should head for Lilongwe, as it was only an hour and half drive away, it would mean that we could get stocked up again, and we won't be coming across another major city for quite awhile. We would wait until the morning to decide. As it turned out it rained for most of the night and was still raining in the morning, with that we decided to head to Lilongwe. It was a very pleasant drive, through farming land, and at a higher altitude. We passed through a lot of rain but it eased off as we reached the city. We found a shopping centre that included a large Shoprite and a Nando's so parked there and did a bit of exploring. We had read about a hotel around the corner so headed that way to check it out, looked ok, so we checked in and would return later after we had done the shopping. Nando's for lunch and the shopping done, we headed back to the hotel to relax, they had internet so we checked up on a couple of things. We ate out at a nice "Italian" restaurant and a few drinks at the hotel bar. The rain had been coming down heavily for most of the afternoon and evening.We decided that the next day we would head for Kande Beach, back on the lake. We checked the maps and we had two options, head back east the way we had come, and then north along the lake, all on good roads. Or head straight north, a shorter route but on not so good roads. The guide book implied that these roads weren't too bad and quite scenic so we decided to go that way instead. It was only 300km so we aimed to leave about lunch time which should give us plenty of time.After a lazy morning, it was still raining, we headed to the market to do the last of our shopping and headed off. Out along the main route down Malawi, I had programmed our route into the GPS and we were crusing along and noticed we had missed the turnoff, back we went, and saw that it was just a dirt road, there was a taxi coming along so we figured it couldn't be that bad so headed that way. The road wasn't great, rough, muddy, potholed so slow going, but we continued on. The scenery looked like it would be magnificent if it wasn't for the rain clouds. We did hit some really bad patches, very slippery mud and deep run-off patches but we were enjoying it. Susan knew that they grew mushrooms in Malawi but we hadn't yet seen any, We came across some women carrying large containers on their heads and we realised they were full with mushrooms, all sorts of interesting looking one. We quickly pulled over, the ladies didn't speak any English but with a bit of sign language they said we could buy some at the next village. Unfortunately we couldn't find any and haven't seen any since L After more rain and mud, we eventually came to the turnoff, onto Tarmac, which was a relief, that part of the drive took a lot longer as expected but now we could cruise (or at least we thought so)…Where we turned onto the road, it runs through a national park, there was a boom gate, so we pulled up and a security guard came over. "You want to go through", he asked questioningly. We thought we might have to pay an entrance or he was checking we weren't poachers. But he then said, the road isn't very good. I looked out ahead and could just see good tarmac, I laughed and said "it looks ok to me, and it can't be any worse that what we just did", as he saw that we had turned off the bad stuff. He said we had a 4x4 and might be ok, and we can try it if we like, he mentioned that large trucks had ruined the road in patches and it was really muddy, he didn't sound too optimistic. The first bad patch was just around the corner, we could go ahead and see what we thought and if we wanted to give it a go.He lifted the boom gate and off we went, we had gone about 500 meters and turned a slight corner and both of our mouths dropped. The tarmac stopped and there was a patch of about 30 meters before it started again. In that 30 meter patch, we could just see think deep mud and water. We got out of the car and then understood why he was so hesitant in letting us through. We inspected the mud pit for a suitable way through, there were tracks everywhere and plenty of evidence of people being very stuck in the middle. We found a line that we thought looked ok, so gave it a shot. Low range, centre diff lock engaged, air compressor on, in case I needed the rear or front diff locks as well, and in we went. It was very deep, very slippery but Kal got through it and onto the tarmac again. Now we were committed and a little nervous at how many of these patches we would hit. We probably hit 5 or 6 more of them and even used the rear diff lock for a couple but we made it through without getting stuck. Susan even filmed a few of the tamer ones, where should could get to the other side. Eventually there were no more and the tarmac was fairly good, worn away in patches and a few potholes. We also passed a memorial for a woman who was killed in 2002 by a lion while walking along the road, and there we were, getting out of the car, having a look for the best line not even really thinking lions could also be watching us!The short route had added a couple of hours onto the journey but we still decided to push onto Kande beach as we should easily make it there before the sunset, and we were back on the good roads. Ended up being quite a long tiring drive, but good to get Kal working in the mud, and the vehicle looked the part with mud everywhere. We made it to the camp site about half an hour before the sun set.