Nkwichi Lodge

Nkwichi Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
6 chalets & a two-bedroomed house
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 3 reviews
Children
Suitable for all ages
Open
All year

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 but cleverly designed, using rocks and local materials, and is as a result unobtrusive and blends in completely with the surrounding landscape.

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 at Nkwichi it's a short walk from the boat up to the main area. This building is double-story, open at the front and sides and built from brick and thatch with enormous support poles. Downstairs it has a seating area, library, small curio shop (with the shelves built around a wooden post) and two guest toilets. There is also a large notice board against the wall displaying information about the community work the lodge is involved in. A wooden flight of stairs leads up to the bar, and another comfortable seating area, with views towards the lake. There is also a dining area here, where some meals are served when the weather is not so good. However during our visit in November 2013, all our meals were enjoyed either on the shaded deck overlooking the beach, or on the beach itself.

A short walk from the main area, via sandy pathways, is the Nkwichi beach - pure white fine sand leading down to the pebbled shore. 'Nkwichi' means 'the sand that squeaks'. To the side of the beach, tucked away within the rocks, and under a wild fig tree, is a raised wooden deck with a small bar, some comfy chairs as well as some tables and chairs. This is where most meals are taken in the shade during the day.

In the centre of Nkwichi’s beach is a thatched gazebo with comfortable chairs and tables on the sand. It’s a great spot to relax in the shade in the heat of the day. In the corner is an old dugout canoe, placed upright on its end, which has been converted into shelves with towels, snorkels and other watersports equipment for guests to use. There are also a few sun loungers and sunshades on the beach. It's worth knowing, however, that very occasionally crocodiles can be spotted in the lake – although not in the shallow waters of the bay, which is perfectly safe for swimming.

In the evenings a fire is lit on the beach with directors chairs set around it in a semi-circle. A bar is set up on the sand creating a lovely spot for guests to meet and enjoy a sundowner drink.

There are six chalets at Nkwichi Lodge and each are individually designed, built mainly by the lodge staff using local materials wherever possible. Four of the rooms are standard chalets and two are premier chalets. There is also a house with two en-suite bedrooms and a separate lounge area.

  • Standard chalets
    • “Kuya" is hidden amongst trees just off the main beach. It’s a large structure with rocks and trees forming part of its design. Its all on one level, with an en-suite toilet. The bathroom is tucked away behind the chalet and completely open. This chalet is ideal for families as two extra single beds can be added.
    • “Niassa" is built on a rock face under some trees and not far from the beach. Inside, some steps lead up to a platform on which a large four-poster bed is set. The bathroom is behind the chalet and the toilet is located in a separate little hut next to the chalet.
    • “Scotland" is located on its own private beach and is the most secluded chalet. It is built on two levels with views through vegetation to the lake. The outdoor shower and bath has lovely views and the toilet is located in a separate hut next to the chalet.
    • “Chimulimuli" has two bedrooms, one double and one twin and both rooms are linked by a seating area. The bathroom is tucked away behind the chalet.
  • Premier chalets
    • "Nkwazi" is located on its own private beach, perfect for relaxing and watching the sunset. Three sets of double doors can be completely opened to offer wonderful views of the lake from the four-poster bed. The outdoor bathroom is located outside the chalet, with a bath built into the rocks as well as a shower. The toilet is located in a hut beside the bathroom.
    • “Kakoa" has its own private access to the lake. It’s completely open at the front with wonderful views of the lake from the four-poster bed. Its built on two levels with a built in seating area below and the bed on the upper level. A door to the side of the chalet leads to an outdoor bathroom with a bath built into the rocks and the shower forming part of a tree. The toilet is up a few steps in a separate hut.
  • “Makolo House" is located deep in the bush overlooking the lake. It has one double and one twin room both en-suite with a high thatched roof with an upstairs platform creating a perfect place for children to hang out. There is private access down to the lake for swimming and snorkeling. Meals are provided here by your own chef, and you are a ten minute walk from the main lodge, where you are welcome to take full advantage of all the facilities.
Activities at Nkwichi Lodge focus around relaxing, water sports and community projects. The beach is one of the best on the Malawi lakeshore and sunbeds, sunshades and hammocks are dotted around for relaxing.

The fresh water of the lake is ideal for snorkeling and there are many areas around the lodge that are great for exploring underwater.

Nkwichi has four Canadian canoes, which are ideal for exploring the shoreline. There are a number of routes to choose from led by one of the lodges experienced guides. It is best to go canoeing early in the morning when the lake is calm. On our recent visit in November 2013, we went out early with our guide Patson. We were three people in a canoe and paddled along the shoreline, stopping occasionally as Patson pointed out a bird or something interesting along the shore. We saw African fish eagles, many cormorants sunning themselves on the rocks, pied kingfishers and a few fishermen passing on their boats. After about an hour we stopped at a secluded beach for a swim and some time to relax. We then paddled back to the lodge where a hearty breakfast was waiting for us.

It’s also possible to go fishing and sailing in one of the lodge’s wooden dhows. This is a lovely experience at sunset.

There are a number of walks and hikes available to explore the wilderness behind Nkwichi. It is suggested you take a lodge guide with you – simply so you do not get lost. On our recent visit we did a late afternoon walk to the viewpoint – about 30 minutes up a hill behind the lodge. It is fairly steep but well worth it when you get to the top. The views were amazing and we could see Likoma Island in the distance, as well as the western shore of Malawi – about 50 km’s away. Our guide also pointed out his village down below. He had a few drinks in has bag and we had sundowners up here. It was stunning. Longer walks from Nkwichi are also available.

A walk, or boat trip, to “the farm" is a must. This has been set up to teach local communities about sustainable farming methods and crops and also provides a lot of fruit and vegetables for the lodge. A guided tour will explain all the work that is being done as well as about irrigation, composting and paper recycling.

It is also possible to visit a few local villages from Nkwichi. Some villages are further away – a lovely walk along coves and bays – where you can stop off for a refreshing swim, or you can be taken there by boat (there will be an additional cost for this). You are welcome to visit the schools, and as most of the staff are from these villages, they will be happy to show you around and for you to meet their families.

The Lake of Stars bed is a lovely experience – spend a night out under the stars. A four-poster bed under a mosquito net is located on a private rocky outcrop, or on a secluded beach. After a private candle lit dinner lie in bed and gaze up at the stars. In the morning wake up as the sun is rising. You are provided with a canvas bucket shower and portable toilet. A member of staff is located nearby and has radio communication with the lodge if needed. This experience needs to be booked in advance and is subject to the weather.

Our view

Nkwichi Lodge is a lovely lodge in a remote location on the Mozambican shore of Lake Malawi. The staff are friendly and welcoming and nothing is too much trouble for them. They are doing great work for the local community from sustainable farming to offering employment and building schools. It’s a great spot to come and relax, and to take part in some of the many activities offered here.

Geographics

Location: Manda Wilderness, Mozambique

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 to the lodge. Guests will need to visit Cobue en route in order to organise a visa for Mozambique before proceeding to the lodge. At the time of our visit in November 2013 a visa cost U$30 per person and must be paid for in cash.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

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. There are many different dining locations and guests can choose to dine together or on their own – the lodge staff are very flexible with the dining arrangements and locations.

Breakfast is usually served on the raised deck overlooking the beach. On our recent visit (in November 2013) we were offered a selection of cereals and some freshly cut mango. We also had a choice of a cooked breakfast with a choice of eggs, bacon, sausage and tomato as well as toast.
On our second day at Nkwichi we were taken by boat to the baobab tree (a popular spot for sundowners or an alternative meal venue) where breakfast had been set up at a table in the shade. We had a selection of cereals, fresh fruit as well as fruit juice, and again we had a cooked breakfast that was cooked on a gas stove while we waited. Before heading back to the lodge by boat we had a quick cooling dip in the lake.

Lunch was a lovely surprise. We were called from our sunbed on the beach to a shady location further down the beach under a tree. A white tablecloth had been laid out on the sand and decorated with foliage. On each side was a low table with water and wine glasses. We sat on cushions and ate our lunch on the ground. We were served vegetable wraps with humus and salsa on the side as well as a tomato and cucumber salad. This was followed by a very refreshing coconut ice cream – we were amazed that this hadn’t melted by the time we got it as it was a fair distance down the beach from the kitchen!

Dinner on our first evening was served by candle light on the little sandy beach in front of our room. We had an onion tart starter, followed by fish fresh from the lake, roasted baby potatoes cabbage and green beans. Desert was a delicious lemon cheesecake. On our second evening we dined with other guests on the main beach. We had pumpkin soup (made from pumpkins grown on the farm), followed by Goan chicken curry served with cardamom rice and various dips. This was followed by a fruit crumble.

Nkwichi Lodge is able to cater for vegetarian and other 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: Tea, coffee and filtered water are included but all other drinks are extra. Approximate prices – U$2 for soft drinks, U$3.50 for beers, U$5 for spirits per shot, U$7 for a glass of wine and a bottle of wine varies from U$30 – U$40.

Further dining info: Meals are very flexible and can be eaten any where around the lodge, including at your chalet.

Special interests

Birdwatching: Birdwatching at Lake Malawi is great for indigenous and migratory birds. Bird walks are possible from the lodge, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who will point out and identify various species for you.

See more ideas for Birdwatching in Mozambique

Cultural experiences: Nkwichi is a key part of the Manda Wilderness Community Trust and its levels of community involvement are absolutely superb. You can visit a local village, or the interesting demonstration farm, where you will undoubtedly be met with a warm, genuine welcome.

See more ideas for Cultural experiences 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

Children

Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Nkwichi Lodge.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions for children.

Special activities & services: There is a special childrens menu available. Guided nature walks with a guide are available for children. Swimming aids, toys and buckets and spades are available on the beach. Child minders are available however parents need to mindful that they are camp staff and not qualified child minders.

Equipment: Cots and highchairs are available.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There is solar electricity in the rooms and a generator as back-up. Batteries can be charged in the office.

Communications: There is no WiFi or mobile phone reception. The lodge is contactable in emergencies via skype phone.

TV & radio: None.

Water supply notes: Water is pumped from the lake and sand filtered for showering. Drinking water is filtered through a more rigorous system.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a clinic in Cobue which is 30 minutes away by boat. The closest hospital is on Likoma Island, a 45 minute boat trip away.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: The lodge has 10 nightwatchmen who patrol at night.

Fire safety: The lodge has fire extinguishers in common areas.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included in the cost. The clothes are collected in the morning and delivered back in the afternoon, depending on the weather.

Money: There is a safe in the office for guests to use.

Accepted payment on location: Credit cards are not accepted. Cash is accepted in Malawi kwacha, US dollars, UK pounds euros and Mozambique Meticais.