I stayed at Sambani with friends midway through our Malawian roadtrip and I didn’t want to leave. Sambani has its own postcard-perfect, hut-dotted beach flanked by small fishing communities and an abundance of mango trees. What I loved about Sambani is that I didn’t feel penned in by the boundaries of a tourist resort and as a tourist I didn’t feel like we were encroaching upon the local people or environment.
There was a very random mixture of guests including a group of nuns, delegates from a medical conference, other travellers and Malawians on holiday, but this did make for some interesting conversations in the bar. This is a very friendly chilled out place with enough space and beach to be as sociable or reclusive, noisy or quiet and active or lazy as you want. We swam in the freshwater lake, played football, netball and volleyball with some of the local kids, lazed on the beach, played frisbee in the water, walked along the beach at sunrise to watch the fishermen coming back with the first catch of the day and used the BBQ to full potential.
My time in Malawi marked the end of a three month backpacking trip and so I was very much travelling on a budget and was pleasantly surprised at how reasonably priced and affordable the whole stay was. I felt completely safe camping next to the beach for about £2 a night, with basic but adequate toilet and shower facilities. The food is also basic but tasty and good value for money. As a travelling vegetarian used to all the cultural difficulties and awkwardness that entails, I really appreciated how accommodating the kitchen staff were. And I thoroughly recommend their vegetable curry!
Some of Sambani’s services are not well advertised and you do have to ask, but on enquiry we learned it was very possible to hire to wooden canoes, be paddled out to the island and hire a snorkel. Another tip: arrange to view paintings. Sambani was the best place to buy and bargain for paintings and small crafts because a couple of the local artists are very friendly with the owners’ family.
Not somewhere you go if you need glamour and luxury, but if you want to experience everything that Lake Malawi’s pure unadulterated beauty has to offer, it doesn’t get much better than this.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sambani Lodge is a lakeside hotel, guesthouse and hostel retreat for local, international and budget visitors. We invite and welcome families, backpackers and travelers who wish to discover the unspoiled Lake Malawi beaches and hospitality Sambani Lodge has to offer. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Sambani Lodge Malawi/Chinteche