All the chalets at Mumbo are set high on the island with views of the lake.
Mumbo Island: Our full report
A pristine and beautiful island situated four kilometres off the Cape Maclear Peninsular on Lake Malawi, Mumbo Island is the smaller and more scenic of the two islands used by Kayak Africa. Reached by a gentle 45-minute boat ride in a traditional wooden fishing boat, the island has spectacular views over the lake. Mumbo island has never been populated and thus is still fairly pristine – and perfect for exploring.
The main communal area of Mumbo Camp surrounds a sandy cove on the eastern side of Mumbo Island. Just offshore from this is a tiny satellite island – it's really more of a peninsular – which is reached by a sturdy rope bridge. Here you find the rooms, each of which is set high on the enormous boulders which make up this satellite island. The rooms have far-reaching views across the lake, each has its own private deck and hammock – from which we spotted the island's resident otters on our last visit here! ( Read more about the rooms at Mumbo Camp here …)
The main area of Mumbo Island Lodge, reached by a sandy path, is a high thatched chitenje (open-sided room with high ceilings) with a bar and a comfortable seating area, complete with games for guests to use (ask the barman to teach you how to play Malawi Bao!). All the meals are served here, although there is a private decked area, shaded by trees, where private meals are occasionally served for honeymooners or those wanting privacy. The camp also has a fire pit, on a deck overlooking the main beach.
Mumbo island is a perfect place for those who like a wide variety of activities. On the main beach there is a watersports “gazebo” with diving and snorkelling equipment. There is some diving kit here, including wet-suits, although this is not a recognised dive centre. However, when guests want to dive, instructors and/of dive masters will bring tanks and BCDs over to Mumbo, and take them diving. This is usually possible at very short notice.
When we last visited, in September 2007, the lodge team advised us that the area around the rooms was perfect for diving and swimming – and we enjoyed diving here, finding lots of “swim-throughs” to explore amongst the rocks and boulders. Having said this, they also observed that there is a crocodile resident in a cove on the opposite side of the island. Hence, to be on the safe side, we do not advise that our guests go swimming or diving here unless they have satisfied themselves that it's completely safe to do so.
For us, the reason for coming to Mumbo Island is the kayaking, and here is a selection of colourful double and single kayaks ranged on the beach for guests to use, either to venture out exploring on their own, or accompanied by a guide. There are also marked trails around the island for those who wish to explore on foot. When we visited in September 2007, we took a walking trail up to the highest point of the island… and found a fish eagle surveying his territory from one of the trees up there!
Our viewMumbo Island is a lovely place to come for a few days of relaxing and has some great kayaking and good short walking trails, which it's lovely to be able to follow on your own, without a guide. The long-drop toilets are a drawback for some, but Mumbo is easier-to-reach, and substantially less costly, than Lake Malawi's obvious alternative island destination: Kaya Mawa.
Ideal length of stay: We would recommend about three, or possibly four, nights here – and it's often used after a safari to South Luangwa, in Zambia.
Directions: The lodge is accessible by a four-hour drive from Lilongwe to Cape Maclear (or a 40 minute flight), and then a 45-minute boat trip out to the island.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we visited in September 2007, the food at Mumbo island was good – it tasted very fresh and wholesome, and it was also very nicely presented.
For Breakfast we were offered a good selection of cereals, yoghurt and fruit salad. Also on offer was a cooked breakfast. Tea, coffee and toast were also available.
Lunches were in the main area of the lodge and were a lively affair – although we only had lunch once during our stay. That was a good selection of lasagne, potato salad, a selection of green salads and some freshly baked herb bread.
Dinner is again served in the main chitenje area, after drinks and snacks around the fire pit. We enjoyed beef kebabs, cheesy stuffed potatoes, baked gem squash and salads were on offer, and to follow, an interesting combination of apple crumble and chocolate sauce.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Mumbo island.
Birdwatching: The island plays host to a variety of birds, including fish eagles, gymnogene (African harrier hawk), trumpeter hornbill, white-breasted cormorant, water thick-knee (water dikkop), paradise flycatcher and a variety of herons, weavers, doves and starlings amongst others. These can all be seen on the nature walks or when kayaking around the island.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Malawi
Walking: Mumbo Island has plenty of well-marked nature trails which wend their way around the massive granite boulders that cover the island. Some of the walks lead through heavily forested areas, and others lead to places of interest, or viewpoints from where you can see the whole island.See more ideas for Walking in Malawi
Attitude towards children: The camp welcomes families and children.
Equipment: None available
Generally recommended for children: Yes, over the age of ten years.
Notes: The island is surrounded by water and has high walkways and rope bridges. Children will need to sensible, and very closely supervised by their parents/guardians at all times.
Power supply: None
Communications: There is patchy mobile reception on the island.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: There is a clinic at Cape Maclear, a 45-minute boat ride away.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms and common areas.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is sent to the mainland, and attracts an extra charge.