Birds and pilots
Likoma Island is surrounded by the Lake of Stars. There are plenty of fish and fishermen here but there is a lot that flys.
One of the things you soon notice at the bar at Mango Drift are a pair of black and white wagtails that come within 6 inches of you and your Green. There are other birds that seem similarly close to humans. Danny the barman tells me however that they will come close to Azungu but not to Malawians… Perhaps we western tourists indulge them with a few too many crumbs from our tables.
The Mango Drift information sheets claim that the island has 400 species of birds. Given that Liwonde National Park is a bird hotspot and has seen 435 species, that sounds a lot to me.
One person who cast doubt on this figure is Charl, a pilot. Whether there are a lot of birds on Likoma Island or not I do not know. One thing I do know is that a lot of pilots pass through Mango Drift. In our short time here I’ve met two already and I hear that another is on his way. Kevin says that you cannot move for tripping over pilots here. The reason is that there are two top end tourist lodges here. One is Kaya Mawa in the next bay, described by an Italian magazine as the most romantic destination in the world. The other is over the water in Mozambique called Nikwichi Lodge. Likoma Island may be remote and unspoilt but is the contact with civilisation for that particular corner of Mozambique.
The lifestyle of the pilots may not be entirely glamourous as this morning one of them was setting off early to walk across the island to the airfield.