Aug 8, 2011

Ilala (Lake Malawi)

Ilala is a motor ship that has plied Lake Malawi in East Africa since 1951. She carries both passengers and freight, and calls at major towns on both the Malawian and Mozambican coast, as well as at the two inhabited islands of the lake (Likoma and Chizumulu). While the ship is often late (reportedly by as much as 24 hours or more)*much more, trust me! and has sometimes broken down she remains the most important means of long-distance transport for the people living on the coast of the lake. She is 52mt long overall, has a gross tonnage of 620 tons and can accommodate up to 365 passengers and 100 tons of cargo. Yarrow Shipbuilders at Scotstoun near Glasgow, Scotland built Ilala for Nyasaland Railways in 1949. Once built, the ship was dismantled and transported to Malawi (then Nyasaland) in pieces, first by ship to Mozambique and then from Beira, Mozambique by rail and road to Chipoka. She began operating in 1951, and has run continuously since then.

After a 26 hours delay, a really long wait...we finally leave on the Ilala from Monkey Bay to Nkhata Bay
The crew
Embarking and organizing markets on the wharf
A first visit on the Ilala

Life by the lakeside...
Other vessels...
Finally sailing the lake: islands and incredibly green coasts
My boat friend Gloria
Each day on board, amid the excited bell ringing, siren shrieks and hooting that seem inseparable from all maritime arrivals and departures, laughing crowds of Malawians line up on the Ilala's deck to disembark, cluttered up with baggage that includes bicycles, cages filled with squawking fowl, sewing machines and even tethered goats. They are ferried ashore in lighters to return an hour or so later crammed with another batch of passengers who quickly settle down in the cramped quarters to cards and singing and sleeping and the preparation of meals in little cooking pots. It all looks and sounds like a cross between Hampstead Heath on a Bank holiday and an Eastern market, but when the ship weighs anchor again the noise dies down and the first class passengers resume in their novels, their deck chairs and their worship of the sun.
—O. Ransford, Malawi, Livingstone's Lake, 1977
Romantic sunset, cold night under the stars (on the deck)

Mozambique coast and a stop in Metangula
really packed!
expecially in Nkhata Bay, almost 2 hours to manage to get off the boat!

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