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Kaya Mawa
Kaya Mawa
Kaya Mawa
Kaya Mawa
Kaya Mawa
Kaya Mawa

Kaya Mawa: Our full report

Beside the implausibly clear waters of Lake Malawi, Kaya Mawa's rooms are widely spread around a golden beach ...

... and the two headlands that bound it. It has been designed imaginatively, with many rooms fitted carefully into the rocky headlands and having direct access to the lake.

Until recently Kaya Mawa wasn't fulfilling its potential. Its founders had done well to get any lodge up and running on such a remote island (it took five years to build!), but it needed some fresh energy and to move beyond the meaning of its name, 'Kaya Mawa' – 'maybe tomorrow' in the local Nyanja language.

It was good news that in 2009 James and Suzi Lightfoot took charge of it. They clearly have ideas, energy and resources, and Kaya Mawa is now starting to live up to its amazing location. Since then Kaya Mawa has had a very sensitive makeover – with lighter colours and much more style – and a great new, central lounge and dining area has been built beside the beach.

Kaya Mawa's 11 rooms and small houses are scattered around; several lead onto the beach, whilst others are tucked into the rocky headlands, and one is even reached by a wooden walkway. Because they're all so different and individual, we've created a different page and slide-show here for each one:

  • There are four 'standard' rooms at Kaya Mawa. None are large inside, but all have en-suite bathrooms and king-size beds (two can be converted to twin-beds if desired). All of them make the most of outside space, with a deck for sunloungers and access to the lake to swim.
    • Ngani is 100m from the main lodge and other rooms, very separate and secluded, on a small rocky 'island' beside Ngani Beach.
    • Mbungu, , Khuyu and Msekwa all face the main bar and beach.
  • The lodge has three 'premium' rooms which are all more spectacular than the standard rooms. We think of these as 'suites' – but here we have stuck to the lodge's own terminology of 'premium rooms'. These are:
    • Nkwhazi and Mbamba are both very large, and each has its own plunge pool.
    • Makengulu is the magical inspirational 'honeymoon island'.
  • Four houses are also part of the main Kaya Mawa lodge – and all are very different:
    • Yofu House and Ullisa House are both on the beach and have a master bedroom and a twin-bedded room, which share a bathroom in the middle. They're ideal for small families with older children.
    • Madimba House also has two bedrooms, but both are spectacular king-sized doubles with their own en-suite bathrooms – and hence is better suited to two couples travelling together.

    • Mainja House, by contrast, has been designed as a honeymoon retreat with just one massive bedroom and a secluded location with a great view.
  • Totally separate from the main lodge, Ndomo Point House is a four-bedroom luxury villa newly built for 2011 which is about ten-minutes' boat ride away. This luxurious beachside retreat is a separate self-contained property, which we've mentioned in this list for completeness.
Kaya Mawa's new, beachside bar and lounge-dining area has made a massive difference, providing a very comfortable spot right on the sand. Amidst plenty of old-looking wooden furniture with stylish fabrics and cushions, you'll find that the bar is well-stocked and the sofas are comfortable.

Tucked away in vegetation behind the beach is the lodge's office, which also has a small boutique/curio shop that sells fabrics, local crafts, wooden carvings and jewellry.

As well as a place to just switch off and relax, there are also many activities which can be arranged with the help of the lodge team, including:

  • diving - the lodge has a PADI recognised dive centre with three on-site PADI instructors.
  • snorkelling - a bag containing snorkel, mask and fins is in each room; the water's clear and many of the fish are very beautiful indeed. You can snorkel straight from the beach, or the room decks.
  • kayaking is a great way to explore, and the lodge has a handful of double kayaks. Given the number of fishermen around, this can be an interesting cultural activity also!
  • cycling will give you an insight into the interior of island, and the lodge has mountain bikes in excellent condition. When dry the tracks are good and cross- easy, undulating terrain and very little other traffic around. And lots of the islanders cycle, so it's a way to blend into the local communities.
  • quad-biking is also possible, and the lodge has a handful of these for exploring the island. It even uses a larger, converted 'quad-bike' to transport guests and luggage to/from Likoma Island's airport.
  • cruises on a motorised wooden fishing boat (owned by the lodge) make a great way to end the day!
  • Next year the lodge is planning to branch out into kite surfing, with an on-site instructor.
Non-motorised activities are generally included in the cost of your stay, whilst anything that requires a motor (be it on land or on the water) are usually charged for as an extra cost locally.

On a populated island, Kaya Mawa has always been close to the community, and virtually everyone employed at the lodge is from the local community. The lodge has a track record of strong community ties – and most recently Suzie Lightfoot has started up Katundu Textiles, which is making a good name for itself producing contemporary textiles (beaded linen textiles and beach linen) which fit in with a stylish beach lodge – whilst creating local employment and taking a very ethical approach to employment on the island.


Our view

We've long known about, and visited, Kaya Mawa – but it's only in 2011 that it's really excited us. It's always had 200m of lovely golden sand and amazing water, now it also has some really high-spec rooms, lovely furnishings and excellent food. If Malawi has never appealed to you before – this, at long last, is compelling reason to visit!

Claire Scott

Claire Scott

Country manager: Malawi

Geographics

Location
Likoma Island, Malawi
Ideal length of stay
4+ nights
Directions
Nearer Mozambique than mainland Malawi, the lodge is reached most easily from the mainland by an hour's flight from Lilongwe. It could also be reached using Danforth yachting, or we can organize an approach via Mozambique.
Accessible by
Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board & Activities
Food quality
On all of our visits to Kaya Mawa in the last few years, the food has been consistently excellent.

For Breakfast there was always a selection of cereals, yoghurt and a bowl of fruit salad. Cooked breakfast orders were taken by the waiter, and served with toast and a fresh pot of tea or coffee. They extended beyond a full English breakfast to options like 'Eggs Benedict', and it was all very good, very fresh and well presented.

Lunches are often served in the main bar area and on the terrace – and are typically something like a fish fillet, or quiche, served with an inventive selection of salads. We loved the basil hummus with crisp bread followed by chicken in a Thai dressing and rice with roasted vegetables.

Dinner is usually served, not a buffet, and there are a couple of choices. On our last visit we ate outside on the beach and started with broccoli cream soup with paprika, which was very good. Main course was an excellent fillet of beef, cooked to order, with red wine jus, maple syrup carrots and Dauphinoise potatoes. For dessert, home-made banana ice cream was served between brandy-snap wafers, with a trickle of chocolate amarula sauce.

Special interests

Beach holidays
The waters of Lake Malawi are implausibly clear, great for diving and especially snorkeling – which you can do straight from the golden beach of Kaya Mawa. This is one of our best spots for a relaxing beach holiday on the lake, and in a surprisingly remote place.
See ideas for Beach holidays
Diving & snorkelling
Lake Malawi offers some of the best freshwater snorkeling and diving in the world. There are plenty of brightly-coloured and often endemic cichlid fish; the lake is always warm and the currents are usually moderate.
See ideas for Diving & snorkelling
Cultural experiences
Likoma Island is home to local villages as well as the lodge. Village tours with a guide can be arranged, or you just set off on foot or bike by yourselves. The community involvement is excellent – Katundu Textiles, started by Kaya Mawa, employs many local people.
See ideas for Cultural experiences
Walking
From Kaya Mawa, on Likoma Island, you can take a gentle stroll through the village to visit the cathedral. Either walking alone, or with a locally arranged guide, Kaya Mawa is good for some light walking in Malawi.
See ideas for Walking
Luxury
Kaya Mawa is a luxurious lakeside lodge with eleven rooms, all different in size and style. One room even occupies its own island. All are built out of local stone and furnished with locally crafted furniture and decorated with beautifully hand-made throws and cushions.
See ideas for Luxury

Children

Attitude towards children
Children of all ages are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions
There is no age restriction at Kaya Mawa although it is suggested that it's best for children above the age of about five years old.
Special activities & services
The lodge can offer special meals for children.
Equipment
Single beds can be provided for children. Have cots, but have not yet got high-chairs (that said, with a little bit of notice, they could get one made!)
Generally recommended for children
Recommended for children above the age of five.
Notes
Due to the lodge being surrounded by water, and having large boulders and high walkways, children must be supervised at all times.

Communications

Power supply notes
Kaya Mawa uses the mains island power, which comes from large generators. Then they have their own generator back up too. So there is always power and guests can charge batteries in their rooms. There isn’t quite enough power for a hairdryer though, so if you want to use one let the lodge know and they will run a back up generator for you.
Communications
Email and satellite internet are available for guests to use – the lodge's office is a WiFi hotspot. The lodge also usually has fairly good mobile reception.
TV & radio
None
Water supply
Other
Water supply notes
Kaya Mawa pump water from the lake for washing. Their drinking water also comes from the lake, but goes through a vigilant purification process before consumption. Bottled water is always available on request.

Sustainability

Kaya Mawa sustainability

Community support is never a maybe tomorrow matter

Guests staying at Kaya Mawa can expect a pace of life that is perfectly described by lodge’s name: ‘Maybe Tomorrow’. While the lodge atmosphere is relaxed, the approach to sustainability is not - Kaya Mawa is involved in numerous conservation and community projects, with one of the key missions of Kaya Mawa being to offer constant support for local community development projects.

In 2006 the lodge created a community workshop on Likoma Island, Katundu Textiles, where local women design and produce arts and crafts from recycled materials such as wooden beads, coconut husks and shells. On an island with a population of 9,000 people, who survive mainly from farming and fishing, the workshop works to empower women and provide employment in an area where possibilities are limited. The workshop has grown to become Likoma’s third largest employer, and currently offers a workplace for 26 adults.

The lodge’s community involvement is ongoing, and includes providing fresh water to the villages, and assisting in the schooling of over 1,000 children. Kaya Mawa has also opened a community-farming project, aimed at providing locals with alternative food sources and offering them the chance to sell the excess to lodges and at the local market.

See more great sustainability projects in Malawi

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
There is a hospital on the island, suitable to relatively minor ailments. Medivac can easily be organised to Lilongwe and then to SA – and the island's airstrip is tarmaced, although not useable at night. Most of the managers are fully first-aid trained.

We're advised by the lodge that they don't know of a single recorded case of Bilharzia being contracted anywhere on Likoma Island – by either anyone either in the community, or staying or working at the lodge. Certainly the aquatic environment is mostly rocky rather than reedy. The lodge's first owners swam in the lake here for many years, and were regularly tested for Bilharzia, and always tested negative.
Dangerous animals
Moderate Risk
Security measures
24-hour unarmed watchmen employed by the lodge.
Fire safety
There are fire extinguishers in the kitchen.

Activities

  • Boat trip

    Boat trip

  • Cultural excursion

    Cultural excursion

  • Kayaking

    Kayaking

  • Mountain biking

    Mountain biking

  • Scuba-diving

    Scuba-diving

  • Self-guided walking

    Self-guided walking

  • Snorkelling

    Snorkelling

  • Watersports

    Watersports

Extras

Disabled access
Not Possible
Laundry facilities
Laundry is included in the rates. Clothes are collected in the morning and usually returned by the next morning.
Money
There is a safe in the central office and guests are welcome to leave their valuables/documents; smaller safes are available and can be put in the rooms on request.
Accepted payment on location
Visa, Mastercard and Amex credit cards are accepted; when we last visited in May 2011, there was a surcharge of 4.5% for credit card payments.

Malawi KW, US dollars, UK sterling, Euros and SA rands are accepted as cash.

Room types at Kaya Mawa

<b>Khuyu</b>, a twin room ...
... is the closest room to the bar and restaurant.
In the bedroom …
… twin beds with a mosquito net …
… are separated from the bath and sink area …
… by a stone wall.
A solid wooden door …
… hides a separate toilet room.
The room has ample storage space for clothes.
Double-doors open the bedroom up …
… to the wooden decking area…
… with views across the bay.
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Khuyu Room

The closest of these standard rooms to the beach, Khuyu has twin beds on one side of a gently sloping rocky wall, with a light beige floor and neat white moulded wardrobe area – under a high thatched roof.

On the other side of the rocky wall, up a few steps, is a very light, open bathroom area with a wash basin and a bath with a view, beneath a rain-drop shower. There's a separate door where, up a few steps, is the toilet.

Khuyu room has its own private deck area, with sun-loungers – which is immediately next to the beach. This is great news for less mobile guests, as it's very close indeed to the main lounge-dining area & bar, although it's not as secluded and private as the other rooms' decks. As usual, there's a ladder down from the deck into the lake for swimming.

General room comments


The rooms at Kaya Mawa are all different – and most incorporate some of the surrounding granite boulders into the design of the rooms. Central to each room is usually an enormous double bed, swathed in mosquito netting and clad with soft, high-quality cotton bedding. Most of the floors are a light colour and polished smooth, so very cool in the heat. Whilst these 'standard' rooms don't have a massive amount of inside space, all of them have significant outside spaces.

All Kaya Mawa's rooms have electric power points, bed-side lamps and showers and baths with hot water. One or two bathrooms are partly open-air – although all are private and not overlooked. Do let us know if you have any preferences about your bathroom!

Each room has plenty of windows, and we don't think there's a significant security risk in leaving these open at night for the breeze – which is lovely off the lake. Each room also has a wall-mounted fan – although these are often of the table-top variety.

<b>Madimba</b> is a one bedroom ‘honeymoon’ house …
… with an infinity pool and views across the lake.
On one side of the house is a sitting room.
On the other is an en-suite bathroom …
… with his and hers sinks …
… and deep bath with raindrop shower…
… which also looks out over the lake.
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Madimba House

Unlike Kaya Mawa's other houses, Madimba House – the 'Honeymoon House' – only has one bedroom. Reached by steps to the back and front, Madimba has a very large, split-level bedroom where a king-size bed is clad in high-quality linen and surrounded by a walk-in mosquito net.

Unusually for Kaya Mawa' there's the addition of a bar-fridge in this room – which is particularly welcome as Madimba is at the north end of the beach, and so a reasonable walk from lodge's central bar and lounge areas.

Beside the bedroom is a large, en suite bathroom with his & hers sinks, a shower and a bath.

Outside is a decking area with relaxed seating and a kidney-shaped infinity plunge-pool in the deck, and relatively close access, down steps between boulders, to the sea and beach. Up steps is an open upper-level viewpoint platform and chairs for admiring the view.

<b>Mainja House</b> sits on the northern side of Kaya Mawa beach.
A rather long wooden board-walk …
… and concrete causeway …
… lead you to several different outside levels ...
… including a circular cushioned seating area …
… deck with loungers …
… and a kidney-shaped plunge pool …
… all with a view of the lake.
The first of the two bedrooms is spectacular …
… with high thatched ceilings …
… and built around large granite boulders.
The king-sized bed is raised …
… and surrounded by a walk-in mosquito net.
On the other side of the room, a gap between the boulders …
… is the entrace to a split-level bathroom …
… which is for the most part open to the skies.
On the lower level is a built-in bath.
Steps lead up to a wash basin …
… a very open shower …
… and through a stone arch …
… a separate toilet.
At the centre of the house is a large open-sided lounge …
… with a few shelves and built-in fridge …
… overlooking the plunge pool.
The second bedroom is no less impressive.
The king-sized bed on one side of the room …
… is set against another massive boulder.
On the other side is the bathroom area …
… with a circular wash basin …
… and deep set bath.
Outside on the veranda …
… you will find a separate toilet …
… and shower made out of an old boat …
… which is very open to the lake and sky.
The verandah also offers several seating areas …
… overlooking the lake.
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Mainja House

In a granite outcrop on the northern side Kaya Mawa's beach, Mainja House is Kaya Mawa at its most original and inspired. Unlike the other houses, this one has two bathrooms, as well as two large, double bedrooms, and so would work very well for two couples travelling together.

With rocks and vegetation to your right, and sand and sea to your left, it's quite a long wander along a board-walk and concrete causeway– to get from the north end of Kaya Mawa's beach to Mainja House.

But once at the house, you'll find several different outside levels, dotted between massive rounded boulders: one a deck with loungers, another a circular cushioned sitting area, and a third dominated by a large, kidney-shaped plunge pool. All within view of the lake, which is easy to reach for a swim via the boulders at the bottom.

Stepping up into the first bedroom is quite a revelation; it's a large and very spectacular room with a high thatched ceiling and walls which incorporate massive granite boulders. Up a few steps is the king-size bed – complete with the high-quality fabrics which are the norm at Kaya Mawa – surrounded by a walk-in mosquito net.

To one side of the room, a gap between two large boulders opens out into a partially-open, split-level bathroom – containing a built-in bath, and steps up to a very open shower and a covered toilet. It all feel very like an 'Indiana Jones' film set and is terrific fun!

In the centre of this spread-out 'house' is a large, open-sided lounge – with a few shelves and built-in fridge. Head outside and there's (another) decking area with a large table for private dinners.

The second bedroom is also very large and impressive, with a sloping bounder on one side of it – and a rectangular moulded bath and wash basin on the other. Step outside on the veranda and you find a toilet, in its own slight-separate room, and … a little further around … a shower made out of an old boat which is very open to the lake and sky.

<b>Makengulu</b> is on its own small island.
A solid causeway …
… and fairly substantial walkway …
… only a few metres above the clear blue waters …
… lead to this ‘honeymoon island’ …
… which, is partially obscured by vermillion bougainvillea.
Outside the front entrance …
… is a curved seating area.
Inside is a king-sized bed …
… with a fan inside the mosquito net.
A cushioned seating area is built into one of the windowsills.
The bathroom is small, but complete …
… with wash basin …
… and built-in bath …
… with views over the lake, but no shower!
Double doors from the bedroom …
… open onto a stone, shaded veranda …
… with a table for two and cushioned seating area…
… looking out over the lake.
An additional wooden deck …
… has two loungers.
From the decking a short jetty leads down into the lake…
… and only a short swim away is another small island.
1 of

Makengulu

On a small island reached via a wooden walkway, this 'honeymoon island' may not have the sheer space of Nkwhazi or Mbamba – but it does have great character and we think that it's terrific fun!

Getting to Makengulu is part solid causeway, and part a fairly substantial walkway – all of which is raised a few metres above a shallow neck of the lake, with fish particularly close and visible as we walked over. The island it's on is tiny, and partly covered with bright vermillion bougainvillea.

Inside is a king-size bed (with a welcome fan inside its mosquito net) on a low, solid base – and around the walls are built-in granite boulders, with a cushioned seat built into one of the windowsills. Makengulu's en suite bathroom is small but perfectly formed, and the bath has windows on two sides looking out over the lake. Note that this room doesn't have a shower.

On a stone, shaded veranda outside is a table for two and a curved, cushioned corner-seat – and a few metres away two loungers stand on an additional level of wooden decking, over the water. From the deck a short jetty leads a few steps across the lake, and down into it via some stone steps. There's an even smaller island a very short swim away.

This is a magical, very private, funky little room with a great feel and aspect. It's probably more susceptible to wind than most of the lodge's rooms – and would probably feel a little exposed during bad weather – but this wouldn't stop us staying here!

The 'premium rooms at Kaya Mawa: general comments


Like the 'standard' chalets at Kaya Mawa, the suites are all different – and most also make a feature of the area's natural granite boulders. All have an enormous double bed, wrapped in mosquito netting, and furnished with soft, high-quality cotton bedding.

The big difference with this room is really its location and its character: Makungulu is one of the most original and magical rooms that we know of anywhere on the continent. It's also got some highly useable outdoor space, and so may be called 'premium' by the lodge, but we think of it very much as a 'suite'.

Like the other rooms, Makengulu has electric power points, a fan, bed-side lamps and showers and baths with hot water. Its bathroom is partly open-air – although all are private and not overlooked.

It has several windows, and we don't feel there's a significant security risk in leaving these open at night for the breeze – which is usually lovely off the lake.

<b>Mbamba</b> sits on the crest of the rocky kopjie.
The king-sized bed …
… with walk-in mosquito net …
… is the central feature of this very large room …
… and looks out across the lake.
The moulded wardrobe stands out against the stone walls …
… and a curved couch is set against one wall.
The bathroom, open to the bush one side, has a built-in bath …
… twin sinks …
… and toilet.
The decked area is less extensive than Nkwhazi …
… but it still manages to incorporate a couple of loungers …
… a deep rectangular plunge-pool …
… and table and chairs where you can sit for a drink.
1 of

Mbamba

Above Nkwhazi, on the crest of the rocky kopjie, Mbamba is another massive room; it used to be lodge's bar-with-a-view. Here the king-size bed is in the centre of the room, surrounded by expanses of cream polished floor. The matching moulded wardrobe stands out against the rocks inset into the walls, and there's a small, curved couch on one side.

The bathroom is open to the bush on one side, giving bathers in the rectangular bath a vegetal view.

Although Mbamba has even more inside space than Nkwhazi, its decked area outside is less extensive – although this still manages to incorporate a couple of loungers and a deep rectangular plunge-pool.

The 'premium rooms at Kaya Mawa: general comments


Like the 'standard' chalets at Kaya Mawa, the suites are all different – and most also make a feature of the area's natural granite boulders. All have an enormous double bed, wrapped in mosquito netting, and furnished with soft, high-quality cotton bedding. The big difference with this room is really the space: Mbamba may be called 'premium' by the lodge, but it really does have a lot of space – and hence we think of it as a 'suite'!

Like the other rooms, Mbamba has electric power points, a fan, bed-side lamps and showers and baths with hot water. Its bathroom is partly open-air – although all are private and not overlooked.

It has lots of large windows, and we don't feel there's a significant security risk in leaving these open at night for the breeze – which is lovely off the lake. The room also has a fan on one wall.

Tucked in the vegetation is <b>Mbungu Room</b>.
On one side of the room is a king-sized bed …
… on the other is an en suite.
From the deep bath you can look out across the bay.
Outside is a curved seating area …
… and a small deck with sun loungers and parasol; …
… it is only a short swim to the main beach from here.
1 of

Mbungu Room

Tucked into the vegetation on the south-eastern side, Mbungu sits slightly above the water and its private deck overlooks the main beach.

Facing north, Mbungu it doesn't get much early-morning sun – and so you can get a lie-in here, and it's a good place to watch the sunset! On one side of the room is the king-size bed; on the other is a large rectangular bath set into the floor, with a rain-drop shower above it. The small toilet is in a separate small room, behind a door.

Outside on the stone veranda is a curved seating area; down a few steps, is a small deck with a ladder into the lake for swimming, two loungers and a parasol. It's a very short swim to the main beach from here.

General room comments


The rooms at Kaya Mawa are all different – and most incorporate some of the surrounding granite boulders into the design of the rooms. Central to each room is usually an enormous double bed, swathed in mosquito netting and clad with soft, high-quality cotton bedding. Most of the floors are a light colour and polished smooth, so very cool in the heat. Whilst these 'standard' rooms don't have a massive amount of inside space, all of them have significant outside spaces.

All Kaya Mawa's rooms have electric power points, bed-side lamps and showers and baths with hot water. One or two bathrooms are partly open-air – although all are private and not overlooked. Do let us know if you have any preferences about your bathroom!

Each room has plenty of windows, and we don't think there's a significant security risk in leaving these open at night for the breeze – which is lovely off the lake. Each room also has a fan – although these are often of the table-top variety.

<b>Msekwa Room</b> is on the tip of the south-eastern headland.
An arched doorway …
… leads you to the top of some steep steps.
Here a small stone room houses the toilet …
… and half way down is an open-air shower …
… and bath, which is almost carved into the rock.
Once in the room it is very secluded and private.
A king-sized bed is swathed in mosquito netting …
… and a moulded wardrobe is one side of the room.
Double doors on the front of the room …
… look out over the lake ...
… and give you access to a shaded seating area …
… deck above the water with sun loungers …
… and a short jetty with a ladder into the lake.
All perfect for admiring the views!
1 of

Msekwa Room

On the same side of the beach as Mbungu, but a little further away, Msekwa's entrance door leads shortly to set of steep steps down to the room, making this room immediately unsuitable for less agile travellers. At the top is a small stone room housing the toilet, and half-way down there's an open-air shower with a view, and a separate bath which is almost carved into the rock; both are open-air.

Once down in the room, it's very secluded and private. The king-size bed probably has more space around it than Ngani and Mbungu, rooms, as well as a small shaded seating area and a deck above the water for the sun-loungers, and a short jetty leading to a ladder into the lake.

General room comments


The rooms at Kaya Mawa are all different – and most incorporate some of the surrounding granite boulders into the design of the rooms. Central to each room is usually an enormous double bed, swathed in mosquito netting and clad with soft, high-quality cotton bedding. Most of the floors are a light colour and polished smooth, so very cool in the heat. Whilst these 'standard' rooms don't have a massive amount of inside space, all of them have significant outside spaces.

All Kaya Mawa's rooms have electric power points, bed-side lamps and showers and baths with hot water. One or two bathrooms are partly open-air – although all are private and not overlooked. Do let us know if you have any preferences about your bathroom!

Each room has plenty of windows, and we don't think there's a significant security risk in leaving these open at night for the breeze – which is lovely off the lake. Each room also has a fan – although these are often of the table-top variety.

<b>Ngani Room</b> is set away from most of the other chalets …
… about 100m from the lodge’s main lounge-dining areas.
The bedroom is quite small …
… and is dominated by a raised king-sized bed.
A wardrobe is moulded around the granite boulders.
A solid wooden door …
… leads through to a long, narrow bathroom …
… with deep, round bath and rain-drop shower.
Double-doors open onto a stone veranda …
… with shaded seating area.
A wooden deck over the water …
… with two sun-loungers …
… looks south towards Mozambique.
1 of

Ngani Room

Set away from most of the other chalets, in rocks beside the lodge's second beach, Ngani beach, Ngani room is about 100m away from the lodge's main lounge-dining areas. Being away from the lodge, it seems even quieter than most, and has some much character that it's a real favourite.

Inside the bedroom is quite small; it's dominated by a large, king-sized bed which is raised high on a stone plinth – and accessed by a few steps. With a light beige floor, white walls and moulded wardrobe and shelves, and a thatched roof it's simple in concept and nicely done.

The long, narrow bathroom is down a step and dominated by a large granite boulder. There's a rain-drop shower; a deep, round bath; and a toilet and single wash basin.

We loved Ngani's outside space as it has a shaded seating area outside the chalet, and also a lovely wooden deck with sun-loungers – all looking out south towards Mozambique, far from the rest of the lodge. Steps lead down into the lake from the end of a small walkway over the water.

General room comments


The rooms at Kaya Mawa are all different – and most incorporate some of the surrounding granite boulders into the design of the rooms. Central to each room is usually an enormous double bed, swathed in mosquito netting and clad with soft, high-quality cotton bedding. Most of the floors are a light colour and polished smooth, so very cool in the heat. Whilst these 'standard' rooms don't have a massive amount of inside space, all of them have significant outside spaces.

All Kaya Mawa's rooms have electric power points, bed-side lamps and showers and baths with hot water. One or two bathrooms are partly open-air – although all are private and not overlooked. Do let us know if you have any preferences about your bathroom!

Each room has plenty of windows, and we don't think there's a significant security risk in leaving these open at night for the breeze – which is lovely off the lake. Each room also has a fan – although these are often of the table-top variety.

<b>Nkwhazi</b> is a very large, airy bedroom …
… centred around a key-sized bed …
… with beautifully embellished bed linen.
The room has very little furniture …
… apart from an antique-looking wardrobe …
… and a large, puffy white sofa.
The bathroom is immediately adjacent …
… on the covered part of the deck …
… and has a toilet …
… twin basins …
… large, deep bath …
… and rain shower …
… all beside the plunge pool.
There are two loungers on the split-level deck …
… a table for two …
… and a cushioned seating area under a parasol …
… with great views over the lake towards Mozambique.
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Nkwhazi

Converted from what used to be the lodge's bar, Nkwhazi is a very large, airy room set around a lovely king-size bed – with oodles of outside space.

Inside there's little furniture apart from the bed, a large, puffy white sofa and an antique-looking wardrobe. The bathroom is immediately adjacent and on the outside deck, but entirely under cover. There's a toilet, a large bath, twin basins and a rain shower – which is particularly convenient for when you hop out of the deep, cool plunge circular plunge-pool.

Also outside on the split-level deck is a table for two, and a cushioned circular sitting area under a parasol – with a great view out over the lake towards Mozambique. It's the kind of room that you feel you could entertain friends in!

The 'premium rooms at Kaya Mawa: general comments


Like the 'standard' chalets at Kaya Mawa, the 'premium rooms' are all different – and most also make a feature of the area's natural granite boulders. All have an enormous double bed, wrapped in mosquito netting, and furnished with soft, high-quality cotton bedding. The big difference with this room is really the space: Nkwhazi may be called 'premium' by the lodge, but it really does have a lot of space – and hence we'd think of it as a 'suite'!

Like the other rooms, Nkwhazi has electric power points, a fan, bed-side lamps and showers and baths with hot water. Its bathroom is partly open-air – although all are private and not overlooked.

It has lots of large windows, and we don't feel there's a significant security risk in leaving these open at night for the breeze – which is lovely off the lake. The room also has a fan on one wall.

<b>Ullisa House</b> is right on the beach …
… in the shadow of a giant baobab.
The house has a large covered veranda …
… and some sun-loungers on the sand beyond that.
The master bedroom has a king-sized bed …
… swathed in mosquito netting …
… with double doors …
… that open onto the beach.
Adjacent, in the centre of the house, is the bathroom …
… with a shower …
… wash basin …
… and toilet …
… with a small section of the roof open to the sky.
A small arch leads to a separate bath …
… with windows looking out through trees to the beach.
On the other side of the bathroom, is the second bedroom …
… which has twin beds …
… and a small swinging bed for young children …
… suspended from the ceiling by four stout ropes.
Large double-doors open on to the covered veranda …
… with a seating area …
… and then onto the beach.
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Ullisa House

With a similar situation to Yofu House, right on the beach, Ullisa House has a more open aspect, with more sun and less shade – or so it seemed when we visited in May, and the adjacent baobab was leafless! It does, however, have a very large, covered veranda at the front, and some sun-loungers on the sand beyond that.

Inside the master bedroom is a king-sized bed with Kaya Mawa's trademark high-quality linen, swathed in mosquito netting. It's a good-sized room with plenty of space, although not vast like the suites, beige polished floor and walls of local stones painted a uniform white. A fan is attached to the wall, and wide double-doors open up onto the beach.

Adjacent to this, at the centre of the house, is an almost-conventional bathroom – with a shower, toilet and wash-basin all together, near a small section of the ceiling left open to the sky. Through a small arch, there's a slightly separate room housing a rectangular bath, with views through the windows looking out through trees over the beach,

Also next to the bathroom, on its other side, the bedroom has twin beds, plus a small 'swinging bed' – which is sized for children up to about the age of six. This floats gently in one corner, suspended from the ceiling by four stout ropes; it moves easily at the slightest touch!

This twin room also has large double-doors which lead directly onto the covered veranda and thence to the main beach.

Ullisa House shares the same style and design principles as the rest of the lodge. All have mosquito netted beds; soft, high-quality cotton bedding; electric power points and showers and baths with hot water.

Like Yofu House, Ullisa House is a great for immediate beach access. The twin room here does have direct beach access – and note that it's not quite as separate from the master bedroom as the twin room at Yofu House.

<b>Yofu House</b> is right on Kaya Mawa’s main beach …
… sat between two baobab trees and a magnificent mango tree ...
… which provides lovely cool shade …
… over the front decking area …
… where two comfy sofas …
… have been made out of old fishing boats.
Large double-doors lead into …
… the main double bedroom …
… with a king-sized bed swathed in a mosquito net …
… double wardrobe …
… and several pieces of wicker furniture.
Through a door and up a few steps …
… is a split-level bathroom.
On the lower level is the toilet, wash basin and shower.
Curved stone steps lead you up to …
… the open, stand alone bath …
… which looks up to one of the baobabs and the open sky.
A door in the lower level of the bathroom …
… leads across a veranda …
… to the other bedroom.
This has twin beds, with a walk-in mosquito net.
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Yofu House

Yofu House is built right on Kaya Mawa's main beach, like Ullisa House, only it sits between two baobab trees and a magnificent mango tree. This evergreen provides lovely cool shade over its large front decking area, where two comfy sofas have been made out of old fishing boats.

Step through large double-doors into the main double bedroom and you'll find a king-sized bed, with high-quality bed-linen, swathed in mosquito netting – and surrounded by plenty of space. Also on the polished beige floor are some wicker chairs and a white wardrobe.

Through a door, a few steps lead up into the split-level bathroom which is central to this house. Downstairs, under-cover, are the toilet and shower, whilst upstairs, and out in the open, the stand-alone bath looks up to one of the baobabs and an open sky. It's a really lovely bathroom!

On the other side of this, across a veranda, the houses' other room has twin beds on a polished, coffee-brown floor, some simple white furniture, and its own access to the beach.

Yofu House is lovely, open house which would probably suit families with older children – who would appreciate the autonomy of their own access to Kaya Mawa's beach, and a room slightly away from their parents.

Like Kaya Mawa's other family house, Ullisa House, Yofu House shares the same style and design principles of the rooms and suites. All have mosquito netted beds; soft, high-quality cotton bedding; electric power points and showers and baths with hot water.

Other lodges in Likoma Island

Alternative places to stay in this same area.


Ndomo Point House

Ndomo Point House

Ndomo Point House is a private house on Likoma Island with its own pool and chef.


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