Arriving at Nkwichi Lodge by boat, you walk from the jetty up to the main area...
Nkwichi Lodge: Our full report
Nkwichi Lodge, on the Mozambique shoreline of Lake Malawi, is set on a perfect white sandy beach, fringed by rocks, with some of the best snorkelling in the whole of Malawi. The lodge is simply designed, using rocks and local materials, and with a thatched roof, and is as a result unobtrusive and in keeping with the landscape of rolling hills.
Nkwichi lodge is described as a 'community conservation scheme'. This means that its philosophy is to improve the standard of living for local people whilst also protecting indigenous wildlife and its habitat.
The lodge works with the local villages to promote tourism, which provides the community with a different way of earning a living, rather than hunting and fishing. Part of the cost of your stay at the lodge is a levy to the community for the use of their land and provides a fund which can be used for their needs, such as medical facilities, education or transport. The lodge also employs local staff wherever possible.
On arrival the boat docks at a jetty, then it's a short walk up to the main area. This building is two storey, built from brick and thatch with enormous support poles. Downstairs it has a seating area, library, small curio shop and two loos, then a flight of stairs leads to the main bar, dining room (where breakfast is served) and some low comfortable sofas, overlooking the lake. Part of the upstairs area is open to the sky and part is thatched, to give some shade.
A short walk from the main area is the Nkwichi beach: pure white sand leading down to the pebbled shore; 'Nkwichi' means 'the sand that squeaks'. The cool, tree-shaded platform here, with hammocks and comfy chairs, is where most lunches and evening meals are taken.
In the centre of the beach there is a thatched chitenje (open sided wood and thatch structure) with comfortable chairs and tables, and towels/snorkels/watersports equipment for guests to borrow. It's worth knowing however that very occasionally crocodiles can be spotted – although not usually in the shallow waters of the bay.
The rooms at Nkwichi Lodge are all individually designed, using local materials wherever possible. With plenty of wide windows, my room ('Scotland' – each room is named after a part of the world) was airy and light.
An enormous four-poster double bed dominates the room, carved from thick, heavy tree branches. Each side of the bed is a bedside table with a lamp, mosquito repellent and coils to burn. The bed has a large walk-in mosquito net which is let down each night, although I didn't have any problems with mosquitoes while at Nkwichi.
The furniture is simple, and comprises of an open sided shelf/chest of drawers, a table, chairs and a large cupboard. On the table are a few magazines and information about Nkwichi and the surrounding area. There are nice touches in the room such as carved and polished pieces of wood dotted around.
At the front of the room, down a curved stone staircase, is the sitting area – this has a wonderfully comfortable handmade sofa and chairs with huge squashy cushions, a big chunky table, an ashtray and a chess set, carved from local wood. This area overlooks the lake and is a superb place to watch the sun set – the staff will bring drinks and snacks if requested.
Each room at Nkwichi has an en-suite bathroom. Reached by a back door are steps leading up to a little thatched cubicle with a flush loo and small table. The loo really does have a view! On the other side of the room, again reached by a door, is the bathroom. This has a large bath, set into the rock, a basin and a shower. All beautifully and thoughtfully designed, with pebbles, and other decorations. Towels and toiletries are provided.
The downside to the bathroom is that it is very open – whilst showering I was treated to the view of several locals walking past on what was clearly a well-used path! In return, they were treated to the view of me showering, although after their initial shock they did at least have the decency to turn their backs!
Ideal length of stay: 2-3 nights
Directions: The lodge is accessed by a flight from Lilongwe to Likoma Island, then a 45 minute boat trip. Guests will need to visit Cobue (a short boat ride from Nkwichi) in order to organise a visa for Mozambique before proceeding to the lodge.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: We found the food at Nkwichi Lodge to be of a very good standard – delicious and fresh. The meals are served buffet-style, and guests dine together.
Breakfast is served on the raised deck where you can watch the sun rise over the lake. We were offered a cooked breakfast or cereal, toast and fruit.
At lunchtime the dishes are varied – one day we had pizza for lunch with a variety of toppings, and the following day we had tortillas. Each lunch is served with a variety of salads and fresh bread.
Dinners on the evenings we stayed there was also good – the first night we were given stuffed pumpkin, couscous and a selection of vegetables, followed by a pineapple crumble, and the following night we were served an avocado on toast starter, followed by parmesan chicken, baked potatoes and a selection of vegetables.
Nkwichi Lodge is able to cater for vegetarian/vegan diets and any other dietary requirement as long as they are informed in advance so they can plan their menus.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Nkwichi Lodge
Birdwatching: Lake Malawi is home to a large number of birds; some indigenous, and some migratory. Bird walks are possible from the lodge, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who will point out and identify various species for you and take you to the places where they can be found.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Mozambique
Diving & snorkelling: Nkwichi offers some of the best snorkeling in Lake Malawi with crystal clear waters and no current in the bay. It's worth mentioning that crocodiles are very occasionally sighted, although not usually in the shallow waters of the bay.See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Mozambique
Traditional Cultures: Superb community involvement here means a real cultural introduction for visitors. Visits to local villages and farms are offered and encouraged.See more ideas for Traditional Cultures in Mozambique
Walking safaris: The lodge offers a variety of walks, usually with a guide. Places of interest include a local village, (50 minutes walk), The Big Baobab (45 minutes walk) and a high viewpoint (45 minutes walk). In addition guests can visit a local farm which is 30 minutes walk away.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Mozambique
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions for children.
Special activities & services: Children's meals can be organised with a special menu – also children can be taken for nature walks with a guide.
Generally recommended for children: We recommend this lodge for children.
Notes: Special activities can be organised for children such as games on the beach and marshmallows around the campfire in the evenings.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: None at present but we are informed that a solar system will arrive from the USA soon which will enable a satellite phone.
TV & radio: None.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The closest doctor is in the hospital on Likoma Island, a 45 minute boat trip away.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: The lodge has 12 nightwatchmen who patrol at night.
Fire safety: The lodge has fire extinguishers in common areas.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included and is a rapid service – the clothes are collected in the morning and delivered back in the afternoon.
Money: There is a safe in the office for guests to use.
Accepted payment on location: Payment is accepted in US$, GB£, Euro, Malawi Kwacha, and Mozambique Meticais. Bank transfers are also accepted but the lodge prefers no travellers' cheques or cards until their system for accepting these is up and ready.