To go to Cape Maclear, you have to get a lift on the back of a pickup in Monkey Bay. The drivers will try to overcharge you if they realize you´re going there for the first time! Check with other travellers about prices!
There is no fresh water in Chembe Village. All the water is been taken out of the lake! Don’t think about drinking it unless you don’t mind wasting a few days on toilets!
Purify the water or buy drinking water. In 2001 people were dying here because of Cholera!
This Camel spider was in my bungalow at Fat Monkeys in Cape Maclear. Camel spiders are usually found in the Arab countries and can be up to 12 cm. This one was aprox 5-6 cm. They are not venomous, but can be dangerous since the mechanical effect of a bite will cause a huge wound which will are infections caused by bacteria.
"Bilharzia" is a human disease caused by parasitic worms called Schistosomes. Calm freshwater in Africa normally carries the parasite. It is said that the population of snails in Lake Malawi carry the parasite. But the locals denies it and say a Danish project eliminated the parasite some years ago. I paddled in the lake for more than one hour with my feet in the water, and also fell into the water when the dugout canoe rotated. I didn't get bilharzia. The choice is yours if you want to take a bath.
The parasitic worms can penetrate the human skin and enter the blood system and infect the bladder and liver. There is a simple cure of a dose tablets which help you and kill the disease.
It isn't too nice to take a bath in the same water as people wash their clothes and washing-up after dinner (see photos). Because of overpopulation and lack of adequate sanitation the lake waters have become contaminated, especially along the shore line. As a result, there is a high incidence of water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery. However, this has become better after 2006 due to a water project (see other tip).
Some places of the beach in Cape Maclear has a bad smell. The left side of the beach is cleaner than the right side (Chembe village), where most of the locals live.
Lake Malawi is high malaria zone. Especially during the rainy season. The American reception clerk at Fat Monkeys got malaria with headache and fever when I was there in August 2009. It shows how important it is to take anti-malaria drugs, even in the dry season.
I have good experience with Doxycyclin tablets, and have never been sick on my trips to several African countries. 1 tablet a day, and no side effects. I usually buy a large number of the Doxycyclin tablets in Thailand for 10 cent a tablet. Instead of buying the overpriced Malarone tablets or the spooky Lariam tablets which can cause hallucination.