South Africa has more than its fair share of beautiful campsites, but Keith and Sue Southgate from Cape Town found serenity beyond our borders – on the shores of Lake Malawi.
We left home in May with our 2015 Iveco Daily Campervan, and visited quite a few different lodges and campsites before crossing into Botswana, Zambia and then into Malawi. After also stopping off in Mozambique, we arrived back home early in July.
Where did you end up?
We stayed at Chembe Eagle’s Nest at Cape Maclear in Lake Malawi National Park, for five nights.
Where did you hear about this place?
We researched it on the internet, and also came across it on other travellers’ blogs that we read.
What does it look like there?
Idyllic. There is a lovely stretch of private beachfront leading down into the lake. The lake temperature varies between 24 °C and 26 °C throughout the year.
What do the stands look like?
There are shaded high-level stands that have a limited view of the lake. We managed to get the beachfront site, which accommodated our campervan and two small two-man tents, with motor bikes. The beachfront site could most probably fit four to five two-man tents.
Describe the ablution facilities.
The ablutions are about 40 m away from the campsite. It’s clean, and there are three showers in the ladies and men’s. The water heating is done by individual push-through water heaters, and the water is warm, not hot. We visited in midwinter, and we didn’t need a hot shower.
What activities are there to do?
There’s a motorboat, a catamaran, and you can snorkel, fish and swim safely. There are sunset cruises to the islands on the catamaran, as well as all-day and halfday snorkelling and scuba-diving trips.
What special preparations did you make for the trip?
We thoroughly researched the en-route accommodation, border formalities, distances, and the state of the roads. We made sure we filled up at every fuel station, and we were always fully stocked up on food, water and drinks. We also had the camper checked before we left.
Is there any other accommodation on site?
There are various air-conditioned chalets of different sizes, most of them with beach views. There’s a full restaurant and a well-stocked bar.
What about food and fuel? Is there a shop in the campsite or nearby?
There aren’t any shops nearby – we brought our food from Lilongwe. There are a few shops for absolute basics in Monkey Bay, 25 km away. The closest garage is about 20 km away and sells petrol and diesel, but if you’re driving a diesel vehicle that requires 50 ppm diesel you’ll need to fill up in Lilongwe or Blantyre.
What does it cost to stay there?
US$10 (R138) per person per night camping.
CAMPING ON THE SHORELINE. The Southgates were able to pitch just a stone’s throw away from the waters of Lake Malawi. The stands are grassy and large, with shade trees as a canopy.
AQUATIC . When you’re tired of lazing on the sands, you can swim in Lake Malawi, fish or snorkel. More adventurous types can scuba dive, while the romantics take a sunset cruise on the catamaran.