Keep Mum-bo about Malawi
PICK UP any holiday brochure that features African destinations and flick through the pages, the usual suspects — Kenyan safaris and South African wine tours — are inevitably included. But one of the continent’s most beautiful, safe, friendly and accessible sites is conspicuous in its absence.
Why is no one talking about Lake Malawi?
With well-stocked safari parks, mountain treks and verdant tea estates, Malawi has plenty of draws, not least that, at the moment, you can have it all to yourself.
But the most impressive draw is Lake Malawi with its mountain backdrop. This Great African lake lies in a valley formed by the opening of the East African rift. It is a vast body of fresh water which covers at least one-third of the country.
I headed to Cape Maclear on Lake Malawi’s southern shore. Quiet by day but buzzing come evening, Cape Maclear is a ribbon of wooden beach huts stretched out along the lakeside.
The town takes its name from the clearness of the water, and here you can learn to scuba dive, hire a kayak and snorkelling gear, or simply stretch out on the immaculate white sands and soak up the endless rays of the sun.
Racing across the water, bouncing on the waves, I caught the motorboat to Mumbo Island. At first the island seemed uninhabited, but as I drew up towards the jetty, I could pick out thatched huts camouflaged among the trees. Mumbo is an e c o - r e s o r t ,
a n d t h e Friendly locals welcome visitors The sun casts flame-like streaks on the surface of Lake Malawi; the lake covers over one-third of Malawi and is home to exotic birds and wild animals; huts on Mumbo Island are made from sustainable timber simple huts are beautifully made from sustainable timber.
The breeze off the lake provides natural (and effective) cooling, and after dark the only lighting is from solarpowered lanterns.
Hot water for showering comes in a bucket, and there are smell-free compost toilets. Robinson Crusoe would feel quite at home here.
At sundown, you want to be out on the water. Fish eagles come into nest as the sky turns pink, and the sinking sun casts flame-like streaks on the surface of the lake. It’s tempting to keep this secret to myself.
More info: www.kayakafrica.co.za