1986

Land & Lake Safaris Ltd. is registered and becomes Malawi's first Tour Operator.

Mark, 25 leaned back in his seat and looked across at his new wife. Their daughter, Chelsey was asleep in the cot next to them where the silence extended between them. 

  "It'll just be one, maybe two years, maximum." Mark encouraged.

Angela frowned, opening her mouth to say something but closing it again soon after,

  "It's a great opportunity, no one else is running safaris from there." Mark said again, "We can just give it a try." 

 

  "I wasn't allowed to go with the furniture." Angela shrugged and looked across at Mark, "So Mark found us a house, moved all the furniture and set us up without me."

  "I just made it, hey." He laughed, "I've never fixed a vehicle so quickly in my life in Mozambique, and you eventually made that house a home."

Angela raised her eyebrows but said nothing, thinking back to that first day in Malawi.

 

Angela stepped into the kitchen, Chelsey was propped on her hip and she looked around with tears welling up in her eyes. 

There was an old wooden stove, covered in soot and smoke, nsima bubbling atop it and a plucked chicken dripping blood on the blackened counter top. 

  "It just needs a bit more furniture and a lick of paint." Mark beckoned her into the living room and she stepped through hesitantly. 

  "Have you found any baby food?" Angela asked, 

  "No." Mark steps around the couch and looks back at her and Chelsey, "Mashed bananas?" he suggests.

  "Chelsey wont eat bananas to this day because of that." Angela looked up at Mark, "You told me two years maximum. How many years has it been mark?" Mark grins,

  "Ah, just one more year Angela."

  "It's been 35 years Mark, and you've said that to me now 35 times." 

  "Next year it'll be 36." He laughs, 

Mark 1987
The Ford Control

Malawi in the late 1980's under His Excellency the Life President Ngwazi Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda, life had to become quicky adaptable. Crime was almost non existent, but the rules were harsh. Women were not allowed to wear see-through clothing, shorts, trousers or skirts above the ankles. Men were not allowed to have hair longer than their shirt collar, and should a man arrive in the country with hair deemed too long, it would be cut at the airport on arrival. 

All movies shown in the country were first viewed by the Malawi Censorship Board and were strictly edited should there be any nudity or political references. Letters, mail and other content was opened on arrival in the country to ensure it was suitable for viewing. 

During these times, Mark tried to grow an operational safari business. Other tour operators slowly started to establish and he'd made a partnership with one who had the only telex machine in the city. 

For those of you who don't know, the telex machine was a large communication device that used morse code. This code would be printed on a long strip of paper and would then need translating into words.

Mark Stop Arriving in Malawi on August third Stop Five guests from Italy Stop Will need collecting from the airport for a tour to South Luangwa and Lake Malawi Stop Please send costs Stop

It would then take about a week between communications. 

  "The fax machine changed my life." - Mark

Our Land & Lake reservations office still has Marks typewriter that he used to build quotes, itineraries, invoices and information from for his tours to send across to his first agents. 

Mark cut windows in the Ford Control, added seats and soon turned his army purchase into the safari car he needed. His first trip was from Lilongwe to Kasungu National Park with two European Ladies. 

The Ford Control reached Kasungu and promptly, burst into flames. Mark managed to put them out, usher the guests back in the truck and continue the tour as if nothing had gone awry. 

The Ford Control became the center of many of their stories, during the late 1980's, Zambia was still not accepting South African Passport Holders through their borders, so it was Angela who took these tours with Chelsey, at just 18 months old, strapped to the front seat with an umbrella tied above her to keep the sun off.

As tours picked up with the introduction of modern technology, Mark established an office, employed more staff and built a fleet of Land Rovers to replace the now aging Ford Control.

Angela opened a nursery School with Chelsey as her first student and Amelia was born in '91 to complete the family of four.

Malawi grew quickly in popularity as a safari destination, Mark recalls the first days of travel across the country, where many of the roads were dirt and it would take two days to get to Viphya Plateau and a further two days to get to Nyika and South Luangwa was very much an untouched and unknown wildlife destination. 

Since then, Land & Lake has grown and developed into one of Malawi's leading Tour Operators. Mark and Angela still remain at the helm and though Chelsey now lives in the UK, Amelia has established herself within the company to continue the legacy.

The Telex Machine
Converting the Ford Control
The Sprongs on Safari 1997