Danforth Lodge

Danforth Lodge: Our full report

8 rooms – 2 of which are interleading
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 2 reviews
Fine for all ages.
1 March to 15 January

Home to Howard and Michelle Massey-Hicks, Danforth Lodge is a friendly, simple, owner-run lodge situated in Chembe village at Cape Maclear, on the southern shore of Lake Malawi. It fronts onto a long sandy beach with views towards the islands, and around the corner is the Lake Malawi National Park - a great scuba-diving and snorkeling area.

Danforth Lodge has eight comfortable en-suite bedrooms, all facing directly on to the lush gardens and the beach. The rooms are arranged in a row and are decorated with a blue and white nautical theme. Terracotta tiled floors are dotted with locally made mats. Large, comfortable double beds (or twin beds) with blue mosquito nets and blue and white bedding add to the theme. Built-in wardrobes have plenty of storage space as well as a digital safe and a hairdryer. A desk against the wall has a folder on the lodge, tea and coffee making facilities as well as adaptor plugs for charging batteries. A few packets of peanuts are even supplied to snack on! Each room also has air-conditioning and a ceiling fan.

The bathrooms at Danforth Lodge have a separate shower, flush toilet and basin. Five of the rooms also have a bath. A selection of toiletries are provided as well as towels.

On arrival at Danforth’s reception, you will be led down a path to the main part of the lodge – a large lawned area with a large partially open-sided thatched gazebo to one side. Here you will find a comfortable lounge and dining area although (weather permitting) guests can often dine outside under the stars. Steps lead directly from the gazebo onto the beach.

On the opposite side of the garden is a second thatched building which houses the fully stocked dive centre and the bar. At the front of this area, overlooking the beach, is another comfortable seating area – an ideal spot for watching the sunset with a refreshing sundowner drink. Upstairs is a large pool table and another relaxed seating area overlooking the lake.

In the centre of the lawn, right on the edge of the beach, is an inviting swimming pool, with a few sun loungers around it. To the side of the pool is a trampoline and a couple of the trees have hammocks.

Activities at Danforth centre around the water-sports – the lodge is an accredited PADI dive centre complete with dive instructor (Howard is also a Divemaster) and has a wide range of extremely good diving equipment. Other watersports here include kayaks, dingy sailboats, Hobies and Darts, waterskiing and tubes. There are also three catamrans and two lasers. Guests can sail on their own but must remain within sight of the lodge for safety reasons. Life jackets are provided.

Howard and Michelle also own a large ocean-going catamaran, Mufasa, which can be chartered for longer trips up and down the lake, and also for short trips closer within the bay. This is an amazing boat – 38 feet long and almost as wide, with plenty of space inside and outside and a dive platform at the back. State of the art controls mean the boat can be used as a sailboat or cruise under engine power.

Danforth also has a small boat called Shenzi, a cedarwood ferry boat with an inboard motor. This is used for island day trips and snorkeling trips. It even has a toilet onboard as well as plugsockets.

Our view

It may sound like Danforth Lodge is all about the watersports and being kept active, however it’s also a good spot for those who just wish to unwind and relax. Although the accommodation is simple and unpretentious it’s very relaxed and Howard and Michelle are great hosts making all their guests feel at home.


Location: Shore of Lake Malawi, Malawi

Ideal length of stay: 4 - 5 nights to explore this part of the southern lakeshore, and also to relax and unwind

Directions: The lodge is a 3½ hour drive from Lilongwe on good roads.

Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Howard and Michelle Massey-Hicks

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Meals at Danforth usually follow the format of a continental or English breakfast served in the morning – the times are very flexible. A light lunch is usually served around 12h30 and dinner is a full three course dinner served at around 7.30 pm.

The meals are designed around the guests requirements – more hearty meals for a group of men, light and healthy salads for a group of ladies and child friendly meals for families.

On our recent visit to Danforth (November 2013) our dinner was a salad starter of baby leeks, corgettes, mint and feta, which was very fresh and tasty. This was followed by chambo fillet (the local fish) served with fresh vegetables on a bed of fried potatoes. Desert was a gorgeous passion fruit pavlova. Other options available were fish cakes, followed by rump steak, roast chicken or a vegetable curry – there is always a vegetarian option available.

Breakfast the next morning was served in the gazebo. A breakfast menu is available with clever nautical names for each course. For example “Full Steam Ahead" is a full English breakfast, with a choice of eggs, bacon sausage, tomato and beans. “Sailors Fare" is a poached egg on crumpet, layered with ham and topped with a creamy spinach and cheese sauce. “The Yard Arm" is scrambled egg on toast garnished with fresh tomato, onion, green pepper and capers. “The Broad Beam" is crumpets with bacon and golden syrup and “Anchors Away" is poached fillet of smoked haddock dressed in a creamy spinach and cheese sauce.

Lunch is normally a selection of salads, or a home-made pasta served with freshly baked bread.

Although dinner and breakfast were the only meals we ate here on our recent trip to Malawi, we felt that Danforth served the best, and most innovative food on our trip.

Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Danforth - the lodge has a well stocked bar.

Further dining info: Room service is available on request.

Special interests

Diving & snorkelling: Danforth Yachting has an on site PADI scuba diving centre, complete with a resident dive instructor. Lake Malawi is a perfect scuba diving spot, and there are many fascinating dive sites within easy reach of Danforth. The lodge also offers PADI dive courses and casual dives.

See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Malawi


Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome in the lodge, but there is an age limit of 12 years on the yacht.

Property’s age restrictions: There is no age restriction at Danforth.

Special activities & services: The lodge can offer special meals for children, and there is a trampoline as well as the swimming pool to keep children entertained. Toys and games are also available.

Equipment: Locally handcrafted high chairs as well as cots are available.

Notes: Young children need to be supervised on the beach as well as around the pool as it is not fenced in.


Communications: The lodge has Wi-Fi and good mobile reception. There is no mains telephone.

TV & radio: There is a TV in the bar for sporting events.

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Water is pumped from the lake using a large filtration system. This water is not suitable for drinking but fine for washing. Drinking and cooking water is boiled and filtered before use. All bathrooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets. Drinking and cooking water is boiled and filtered before use. All bathrooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is at a nearby clinic, approximately 20 - 30 minutes drive away. In the village there is a clinic for non-critical cases. More serious cases can be airlifted to hospital in Lilongwe.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: The lodge has two dogs and two night watchmen.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the kitchen, bar and main areas.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included in the cost.

Money: There are safes in each of the rooms.

Accepted payment on location: The lodge accepts Visa credit cards only, as well as US dollars, UK sterling, Euros, Malawi Kwacha and SA Rands cash.