Chintheche Inn is located on a lovely beach on Lake Malawi.
Chintheche Inn: Our full report
The simple Chintheche Inn, owned and managed by Wilderness Safaris, is a relaxed beach lodge on the western shore of Lake Malawi, Africa's third-largest lake. This northern part of the Malawi lakeshore is very green and lush, dotted with fishing villages and with endless sandy beaches.
So laid back is Chintheche that on our last visit, in November 2013, we felt it hadn’t changed much since our previous visit in 2007. Comfy chairs in the reception area are a good place to sort out the initial paperwork over a cold drink, while adjacent is a small curio shop, selling postcards, a few items of clothing, and locally made curios.
Set behind is Chintheche’s fairly dark main area, where cane furniture is grouped around a stone fireplace and novels and nature books jostle for space on a pine bookcase. The dining area opens onto a covered veranda laid with individual tables, although weather permitting, tables are laid out on the lawns under the trees. In front of the veranda, under a shady tree, is a collection of comfortable wicker sofas and chairs.
At the edge of the lawn, overlooking the beach, Chintheche boasts a good-sized swimming pool, with an adjoining shallow children's pool. Indeed the whole lodge is child friendly, and ideally suited to families. The beach itself is large, white and beautiful, dotted with the occasional rocks, and set with loungers beneath thatched umbrellas.
Accommodation at Chintheche Inn comprises ten fairly small but brightly furnished en-suite rooms, a similarly styled suite, a separate cottage, and a campsite.
- The rooms and the suite together form a row overlooking the beach. All are entered from the back, but open out to the front, through french doors, onto a small private patio with deck chairs, and thence straight onto the beach.
The bedrooms have terracotta-tiled floors and twin beds, or a double, set beneath mosquito nets and with a locally made wood-and-reed headboard. Blue bedspread and cushions add a splash of colour against white linen. A lamp sits on each carved wooden bedside table, and you’ll also find a sturdy luggage rack, and a desk. Tea- and coffee-making facilities and drinking water are supplied, as is a folder with information about the lodge and the surrounding area. There’s also a fan and a wall-mounted safe. Some of the rooms have adjoining doors – and hence easily convert for family use.
The small en-suite bathroom, decorated with bright, African colours, contains a powerful hot shower, single basin and flush toilet, with towels, bathrobes, soap and shampoo provided.
- In addition to the en-suite bedroom, the suite has a separate lounge, with cane furniture and a single daybed that can be converted into a child’s bed. French doors lead out onto a patio, set back from the beach making it more private .
- The two-bedroom cottage can sleep up to five people, sharing one bathroom. It also has a lounge.
- Finally, Chintheche Inn has its own campsite, though note that this is located sufficiently far from the lodge that lodge guests will not be disturbed.
Chintheche Inn is able to offer a good range of activities, many of them water based. As well as swimming – in the lake or, when the water’s rough, in the pool –these include snorkelling from a nearby island, waterskiing, sailing, fishing, and excursions in sturdy wooden fishing boats
Beyond the lake, knowledgeable local guides are on hand to lead birding walks in the area and to arrange visits to local fishing villages. The nearby Bandawe mission also provides a fascinating look into Malawi’s colonial past. Also on offer are guided or unguided mountain biking trails, and horseback riding for all abilities at Kande stables, about 10km away.
On our recent visit a guide walked with us along the beach, where fisherman and children fished from the rocks, and into the village, where we chatted to a gentleman and a group of ladies grinding maize. On the way, we picked up a gaggle of small children who followed us everywhere – even trying to come back to the lodge with us!
Chintheche Inn is involved in several community projects, including a tree nursery set up in the lodge grounds with a view to tackling deforestation.. Throughout Malawi, indigenous forests are cut down for firewood and timber, as well as to create more land. The nursery grows and distributes about 40,000 seedlings a year, designed to produce firewood, fruit and indigenous hardwood. Guests are welcome to visit this and see the work they are doing here.
Our viewChintheche Inn is an affordable, family-friendly lodge located on a lovely beach. It’s ideal both for travellers who wish to relax and do nothing and for those who like to be kept occupied, with lots of water and land activities on offer. The food is fresh and simple and the staff very friendly.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend up to four nights here for a relaxing beach stay.
Directions: Chintheche Inn is a four-hour drive from Lilongwe on fairly good roads, following the lakeshore. Alternatively you can charter a flight to the Dwangwa (Chintheche) airstrip, which is about an hour’s drive from the lodge.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Staff: Inn Manager: John Russell and Bronnie Driscoll
Guides: Nation, Hastings and Wesley
Chef: John Russell
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The last time we visited Chintheche, in November 2013, the food was simple and fresh. Meals usually follow the format of a continental or English breakfast (the times are very flexible), an à-la-carte lunch from about 12.00 to 2.00pm, and a full three-course dinner at around 7.30pm.
The lodge is able to cater for any special requests if some notice is given.
For breakfast a buffet is laid out with fresh fruit and fruit salad, fruit juice, cereal and freshly made pancakes. Tea and coffee are served, and a cooked breakfast is available with a choice of eggs, bacon, sausage and toast.
For lunch, the menu included a choice of soup or a Greek salad (though they had run out of lettuce so made it with cabbage instead!), followed by a selection of sandwiches, burgers and locally caught fish (chambo or kampango) and chips. Dessert was a fresh fruit salad.
For dinner we had a soup starter, followed by a choice of steak or fish served with fresh vegetables, and finished off with a tasty chocolate tart.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Filtered drinking water, tea and coffee are provided in the rooms, but no other drinks are included at Chintheche.
Further dining info: Room service is not available.
Beach holidays:See more ideas for Beach holidays in Malawi
Birdwatching:See more ideas for Birdwatching in Malawi
Riding holidays: Horseriding for all abilities is available from the Kande Stables, about ten minutes’ drive from Chintheche Inn. Choose an hour's forest ride or a three-hour bush, beach and swim ride with an optional picnic lunch.See more ideas for Riding holidays in Malawi
Walking:See more ideas for Walking in Malawi
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions: There is no age restriction at Chintheche Inn.
Special activities & services: The lodge offers special guided walks for children and the swimming pool has a shallow children’s section. Toys and games are available and meals can be tailored to suit varying appetites.
Equipment: Both cots and highchairs are available.
Generally recommended for children: We would highly recommend Chintheche Inn for children.
Notes: Young children need to be supervised by their parents as the swimming pool is not fenced and the lodge is in close proximity to the beach.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Power supply notes: The mains electricity supply can be erratic in Malawi (especially when there are thunderstorms) so the generator is used as a back-up.
Communications: The lodge has a landline and there is also good mobile reception.
TV & radio: None.
Water supply: Mains
Water supply notes: All rooms have hot and cold running water 24 hours a day.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is available at the local clinic in Chintheche, approximately five minutes drive away as well as further away at Nkhata Bay – about 15 minutes from the lodge.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There are unarmed nightwatchmen at night to escort you to and from your room, and the inn has two guard dogs which wander the grounds from 11pm to 5am.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside the rooms and in the common areas.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: There is an extra charge for laundry – clothes are collected in the morning and returned during the afternoon or early evening. There is a laundry list available in the rooms. Costs vary from 30 cents for underwear and socks to 80 cents for a pair of jeans or a jumper.
Money: Each room has a wall-mounted safe.
Accepted payment on location: Only Visa credit cards are accepted as well as US dollars, UK sterling, euros and SA rands cash. There is no additional charge for using Visa.