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.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents -

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.

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