Getting to Livingstonia proved to be more difficult than expected on a Sunday morning. Arriving early in the bus station of Rumphi made one thing clear quite soon: it would be next to impossible to find a direct matola to Livingstonia on that day. The only possibility was going to Chitimba and then hoping to find transportation up the escarpment where Livingstonia can be found. After some negotiations, a driver was willing to rent his small truck and surprisingly quickly, we were on our way. Only when we took a left turn after a few kilometres, was I really sure that the driver was actually taking the inside, bad road. It proved to be a fantastic road, one that I had not wanted to miss, even though standing in the back of the truck on the very bumpy road meant being thrown around two hours long. Holding on to the bar was essential. Especially the drive up to the plateau where Livingstonia can be found provided great views of the valleys and villages below. And then, suddenly, we pulled into Livingstonia.
When the Scottish were exploring Malawi in the 19th century, they established several settlements in the footsteps of Dr. David Livingstone. Not all of them were successful; the Scottish Church founded a Livingstonia near Cape MacLear in the south but, due to the prevalence of malaria, decided to establish a new Livingstonia further north, high on the escarpment overlooking the large lake that we now know as Lake Malawi. In honour of the British explorer, they named it Livingstonia. The town is roughly circular in shape, and a dusty path leads all around it and is the best way to get an idea of Livingstonia. You can see a football field, schools, Livingstonia University buildings, and of course, regular houses as well, before you reach the edge of the escarpment. Suddenly, there are no more trees towards the east; instead, wide views open up below you. And yes, that blue patch in the distance is, indeed, Lake Malawi, some 700 metres lower than Livingstonia. Walking past the church of Livingstonia, like the other colonial buildings a sturdy red-brick building, loud singing came through the open doors. Beautiful to listen to, but unfortunately, it also meant that it would be impossible to visit the church, and see its famous stained-glass windows. A little further, the Stone House appeared to be closed on Sundays, so a visit to its museum was impossible.
Other buildings in Livingstonia are the Clock Tower, various college buildings, a secondary school, and old missionary mansions. The latter have curious appendices attached to the main buildings. All the buildings have a remarkable uniformity, making Livingstonia a homogeneous entity. Apart from the old colonial buildings, there are also the newer African shops and houses. They are also built in the same spacious way as the rest of the layout of the town. Livingstonia proved to be a pleasant, and curious, town, largely because of the space, the tree-lined paths, the old buildings, and the friendly inhabitants. Walking down towards the lake, we came across the Manchewe Falls, a great peaceful place in the middle of nature, with a very long single drop of over 120 metres. Now, at the end of the dry season, a fine spray of water fell down through the lush vegetation surrounding the cliffs. It is possible to get really close to the edge of Manchewe Falls. Here, in a pool, local youths were running after each other and doing somersaults. Close to the pool, some scrambling takes you to the edge of the waterfall, and you can peek over it, right where the water rushes down over the rocks. After the visit to laid-back historical Livingstonia, Manchewe Falls provides for a great natural setting before continuing the road down to Lake Malawi further below.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Livingstonia (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Livingstonia.
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