Danforth Lodge

Danforth Lodge: Our full report

8 rooms – 2 of which are interleading
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 4 reviews
Fine for all ages.
1 March to 15 January

***Stop Press*** Sadly Danforth Lodge is in the process of being sold and is no longer taking bookings. ***

Home to Howard and Michelle Massey-Hicks, Danforth Lodge is a simple, owner-run lodge situated in Chembe village at Cape Maclear, on the southern shore of Lake Malawi. It fronts onto a long sandy beach with views towards the islands, and with easy access to the scuba diving and snorkelling of Lake Malawi National Park.

Danforth Lodge has eight comfortable en-suite bedrooms, set in a row and facing directly on to lush gardens and the beach. Two of the rooms area interleading, so can be linked for a family. Terracotta-tiled floors dotted with locally made mats help to keep the rooms cool, aided by air conditioning and a ceiling fan. Blue-and-white décor adds a nautical touch, enhanced by mosquito nets around the large, comfortable double bed (or twin beds), made up with blue-and-white bedding. Built-in wardrobes have plenty of storage space as well as a digital safe and a hairdryer. Tea- and coffee-making facilities are set on the desk, together with packets of peanuts, and adaptor plugs for charging batteries.

All the bathrooms at Danforth Lodge have a shower, flush toilet and basin, with five also boasting a bath. A selection of toiletries is provided.

A path from reception leads to the main area of Danforth Lodge – a large, partially open-sided thatched structure set beside an extensive lawn. Here you will find a comfortable lounge and dining area, although (weather permitting) guests often dine outside under the stars. Steps lead directly down onto the beach.

A second thatched building houses Danforth’s fully stocked dive centre and the bar, with a TV for sporting events, and another comfortable seating area facing the beach – an ideal spot to watch the sunset. There is also a pool table next to the bar, whilst upstairs has more seating overlooking the lake.

In the centre of the lawn, right on the edge of the beach, is an inviting infinity swimming pool, and a trampoline. And for pure relaxation, sunloungers are set by the pool, with hammocks swung from the nearby trees.

Activities at Danforth centre around watersports. Howard is a PADI divemaster and the lodge is an accredited PADI dive centre complete with a wide range of extremely good diving equipment and its own dive instructor. Other watersports from the lodge include kayaking, dinghy sailing (with Lasers, Hobies and Darts), waterskiing and tubing. Guests may sail without supervision but must remain within sight of the lodge for safety reasons. Lifejackets are provided.

Snorkelling excursions and island day trips can be taken aboard the Shenzi, a small cedarwood motorised ferry boat, with a toilet on board, and plug sockets for recharging batteries,

Howard and Michelle also own a magnificent 38ft catamaran, the Mufasa, which can be chartered both for short trips within the bay, and for longer sailing or motor cruises up and down the lake. The boat has plenty of space both inside and out, and a dive platform at the back.

Our view

It may sound as though Danforth Lodge is all about active watersports but it’s also a good spot for those who just wish to unwind and relax. Although the accommodation is simple and unpretentious, it’s very relaxed, and Howard and Michelle are great hosts, striving to make all their guests feel at home.


Location: Shore of Lake Malawi, Malawi

Ideal length of stay: 4 - 5 nights to explore this part of the southern lakeshore, and also to relax and unwind

Directions: The lodge is a 3½ hour drive from Lilongwe on good roads.

Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Howard and Michelle Massey-Hicks

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Meals at Danforth usually incorporate a continental or English breakfast, with timing very flexible; a light lunch at around 12.30pm and a three-course dinner at around 7.30pm. Menus are designed around guests’ requirements – with options ranging from hearty meals to light and healthy salads and child-friendly offerings.

Although dinner and breakfast were the only meals we ate here on our recent trip to Malawi, in November 2013, we felt that Danforth served the best, and most innovative food on our trip.

Our dinner started with a fresh and tasty salad of baby leeks, courgettes, mint and feta. This was followed by fillet of chambo (the local fish) served with fresh vegetables on a bed of fried potatoes. Dessert was a gorgeous passion-fruit pavlova. Other choices were fish cakes, followed by rump steak, roast chicken or a vegetable curry – there is always a vegetarian option available.

Breakfast was served from a broad-ranging menu that features nautical names such as ‘Full Steam Ahead’ for a full English breakfast, or ‘Sailors Fare’ for a poached egg on crumpet, layered with ham and topped with a creamy spinach and cheese sauce.

Lunch is normally a selection of salads, or a homemade pasta served with freshly baked bread.

Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Danforth - the lodge has a well stocked bar.

Further dining info: Room service is available on request.

Special interests

Diving & snorkelling: Danforth Yachting has an on site PADI scuba diving centre, complete with a resident dive instructor. Lake Malawi is a perfect scuba diving spot, and there are many fascinating dive sites within easy reach of Danforth. The lodge also offers PADI dive courses and casual dives.

See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Malawi


Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome in the lodge, but there is an age limit of 12 years on the yacht.

Property’s age restrictions: There is no age restriction at Danforth.

Special activities & services: The lodge can offer special meals for children, and there is a trampoline as well as the swimming pool to keep children entertained. Toys and games are also available.

Equipment: Locally handcrafted high chairs as well as cots are available.

Notes: Young children need to be supervised on the beach as well as around the pool as it is not fenced in.


Communications: The lodge has Wi-Fi and good mobile reception. There is no mains telephone.

TV & radio: There is a TV in the bar for sporting events.

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Water is pumped from the lake using a large filtration system. This water is fine for washing but not suitable for drinking. Filtered water for drinking is provided at meals and in a flask in the room. Bottled water can be purchased at the bar. Drinking and cooking water is boiled and filtered before use. All bathrooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets. Drinking and cooking water is boiled and filtered before use. All bathrooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is at a nearby clinic, approximately 20 - 30 minutes drive away. In the village there is a clinic for non-critical cases. More serious cases can be airlifted to hospital in Lilongwe.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: The lodge has two dogs and two night watchmen.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the kitchen, bar and main areas.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included in the cost.

Money: There are safes in each of the rooms.

Accepted payment on location: The lodge accepts Visa credit cards only, as well as US dollars, UK sterling, Euros, Malawi Kwacha and SA Rands cash.

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