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“Absolutely, completely, A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.”
Review of Kaya Mawa

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Kaya Mawa
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Likoma Island
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 11 January 2009

I'd like to start my review by telling you what kind of people my wife and I are, because I find that it helps you decide whether you can trust the review or not.

We're in out mid-twenties, I'm a freelance web designer and my wife is a optician so we've got more cash than some of our friends but are by no means loaded! We both love travel, and especially love 'off the beaten track' type places. We often spend most our holiday budgets on just getting to places and then stay in hostels etc. but this being our honeymoon we fancied some luxury.

We both love africa and went on to stay in the Seychelles for 2 weeks after Kaya Mawa... and what can I say..... Kaya Mawa blew the Seychelles out of the (crystal clear, fresh) water!!!

Likoma island is pretty much the most beautiful place in the world as far as I'm concerned and Kaya Mawa is the perfect accommodation. Granite bath tubs, private jetties and hand crafted chalets are the order of the day and not soulless white walls and it is all the better for it.
The water is warm and clear and full of fish (better snorkeling than the Seychelles) and the beaches are beautiful too.

The service was top quality, everyone was so friendly and approachable. Great bar, good wine.. my only slight reservation about the whole place was that the food wasn't as fresh and fishy as I had hoped but it was explained to me that a lot of the produce had to be imported in at great cost, so bearing that in mind they did a great job with what they had.

Take a boat tour around the island, it's a great way to see most things in a day and then just relax relax relax.

I'm actually getting depressed writing this review that I'm not there right now!!

  • Stayed: September 2008, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Luke H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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166 - 172 of 187 reviews

Reviewed 1 November 2008

Superlatives abound for this place. Rooms are amazing -- we had one that was its own little island reachable by a suspension walkway. Built right into the rocks. Could literally dive out of our room into the lake. Exceedingly nice staff with great service (but not in an excessively formal or stuffy way -- these are people you can have a drink with if you want). Lots of cool options to do things (swimming, Mt. bike across island, diving, snorkeling off your room, hike over to local handicrafts enterprise, or sit and do nothing but enjoy yourself). Setting is great as the lake breeze seems to be always blowing, keeping heat down and making bugs a non-issue. Food is great -- all made from local ingredients. No phones -- you have a walky-talkie if you want anything brought to you -- which in this day and age is such a great break (but yes, you can get online in the office if you need to). If you are going on safari and want a wind down spot, definitely recommend this. Also would be an amazing palce for Honeymooners.

  • Stayed: May 2008, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Rob0ny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 August 2008

Stayed in chalet 4 - a lovely stone and thatch "cottage" built around the granite boulders of a bouganvillia drapped little island linked to the main lodge by a wooden bridge. Views of the lake from the numerous windows were breathtaking as was the snorkling from the little private jetty attached to the chalet. Other chalets all looked nice - some with beach asccess and the main dining / bar area was also wonderful with lake views. Cant imagine a more romantic / honeymoon location. Swimming in lake Malawi was a revelation - like swimming in Evian water!

Food excellent and enjoyed the novelty of eating at a different surprise location evey night. Straightforward wine pricing policy - all reds $40 and whites $35.

Island is very dry but not barren like some guidebooks suggest. Island similar to some Greek islands but with Boabab trees.

The locals are incredibly friendly - especially the kids. If they see you have a digital camera expect to be taking photos evey 5 minutes if you go for a walk - they love seeing themselves in the digital display.

Cathedral is well worth a visit and Vincent is only too happy to show you around.

  • Stayed: August 2008, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank BerkshireTigger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 August 2008

I read an earlier review on here of Kaya Mawa which described it as "a tent on a rock"....well to hideously paraphrase Churchill....some tent, some rock.

If you are looking for a chain-hotel style hotel room, perfect finishes and a gym/spa/activity program then this isn't the place for you. But if you want somewhere with buckets of character and charm and a totally relaxing experience then you will love Kaya Mawa as much as I did.

The setting is stunning - on the shores of the perfect blue waters of Lake Malawi. You can either arrive by plane or on the Ilala - the old Malawian ferry which runs up and down the lake twice a week. Rough traveling but a great experience and really makes you appreciate the comfort of Kaya Mawa on arrival.

Rooms are all different and have heaps of character. They were built by the local population, which was no mean feat given available resources. It isn't clean edges and white walls - but lots of stone and some imagination - and for me it worked beautifully. All the rooms open up on to a deck on the lake and have total privacy.

There seem to be numerous different dining locations so you will eat at a different one each night. Food was excellent - varied, fresh and tasty - and the staff all extremely friendly and capable.

Having spent a fair amount of time doing safaris on this trip I loved the relaxed approach to meals here. There are no fixed times and places to be. When you wake up you use the walkie talkie in the room to call in a breakfast order - which then appears on your deck. If this is at 6am or 11am they don't care, and the same approach is taken for the other meals. This means you can do whatever you want, whenever you want to.

There isn't a massive amount to do - but that is the point. Take some good books, switch off your phone and relax. I took a bike out and rode around the island one day - which was great fun (and quite hard work). Other than that I spent the time being fairly lazy and chilling out in the sun. Other options include kayaking, swimming and diving. But the best bet was sitting on the deck by the bar and having a drink whilst the sun goes down over the water. All very pleasant.

  • Stayed: July 2008, travelled solo
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3  Thank Adrian W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 July 2008

We weren't quite sure what to expect at Kaya Mawa but all I can say is we were bowled over by the place! The history alone is fascinating, but the actual experience is a very special one. If you're looking for air conditioned units which all look exactly the same and a typical "resort", this place is not for you. Come here if you're adventurous and love experiencing something completely different. Our family stayed in one of only two beautiful family rooms on the beach. Aptly called Mango House, the other one (also gorgeous but different, no two rooms are the same) is far enough away to ensure complete privacy. The children (ages 9 & 12) had a separate room with twin beds and we shared an open air bathroom which linked the 2 rooms. We were lucky enough to have perfect weather and were there for 4 nights, but could happily have stayed longer. There is plenty (and nothing if you like!) to do. James and Craig were expert at waterskiing, tubing and wakeboarding with the children and you can help yourself to canoes, snorkels & flippers, go sailing or diving. Craig arranged a boat and a guide for us and we took a wonderful trip around the island, stopping off at the famous cathedral and a little cove for lunch and snorkelling. Special mention must be made of the staff at Kaya Mawa - nothing is too much trouble for anyone. Diana was brilliant at producing delicious food for fussy children at the times that suited us. After their supper we'd put them to bed and the night-watchman kept an eye on them while we enjoyed a grown up meal. It was quiet when we first arrived at Kaya Mawa and I had a chance to look around all the rooms. I could happily have stayed in any of them, every one is unique and special in its own way. We can't wait to go back, this place is a gem.

Stayed: July 2008
2  Thank Oakapple
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 November 2007

James and Craig do not have the Rubgy world cup to fight over any more but I'm sure Tank will keep them busy as he ferttets around the island
Room 4 is the most fantastic cave dewelling you could ever imagine it even has about 20 black masked weaver nests to wake you up before dawn ( dont do anything to them James, dont forget most visitors are used to the early morning routine by time they get to Kaya Mawa
ROOM 5
what can I say about Paradise
To dive off your own personal jetty ,to snorkle to the sunken wreck
what more can I say
A bike trip to the village is a must just get the little map and enjoy the exprience of oirentering in a magical land 60 kawcha for a coke at one of he many little shops while you try to work out where you are
When you get to the market go down to the end where you will find the Hunger Clinic Great place a 660ml bottle of green (Carlsberg) for 160 Kch
ABSOLUTE HEAVEN THE MEMORIES WILL KEEP US GOING FOR A LONG TIME
The pool at 3.something meters deep is magical but watch the bottom as this muppet smashed his nose open trying to find the bottom ,showing off
They have a wonderfull book about old Balyntyre up to 1914
if you go find it, it is wonderfull
THE PEOPLE ARE GREAT THE PLACE IS FANTASTIC
I WISH WE COULD AFORD TO GO BACK TOMORROW

Kaya Mawa means Maybe Tomorrow

every time we hear the Stereophonics "Maybee Tomorrow i'll find my wat home" we just cant stop crying because we had such a wonderfull time there,4 nights at the end of 3 weeks in Africa wasnt enough

Dont forget to drink the Malawi Gin its magic
and the diving with Craig is something special

have fantastic time in heaven

Stayed: September 2007
2  Thank HEOLGABRIEL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 November 2007

My husband and I traveled over 11,000 miles to visit one of our sons, who is in Malawi for a year doing service work. We wanted to give him and one of his friends a relaxing break from their rather primative conditions. After much discussion and research through our travel agent, we chose Kaya Mawa, which appeared to be a jewel of Lake Malawi.

We arrived on the island in a single-engine, one-pilot plane, that landed safely on Likoma (a real nail biter for me, but I was a pro on the way back). We were met by a car from the resort (an ancient Land Rover) that transported our luggage to the hotel. We were transported by a very fast boat, captained by one of the managers, Craig.

Our first view of the resort was just as lovely as the photos on the internet. We were escorted to the bar, given an well-needed drink, where Craig and his lovely wife, Diana, explained the routine at Kaya Mawa and showed us to our lodges.

Our lodge was very charming, made of native woods and rock. We had a huge, comfortable bed and a two-person rock tub. (My idea of roughing it is a Holiday Inn, so I was a little worried, but the charm and graciousness of the staff far outweighed my princess nature.) This IS Africa, but it is an extremely comfortable Africa. Electricity is on for most of the day, the food is excellent and the bar well-stocked.

We enjoyed the Lake...boating, snorkeling, swimming, and the three men took diving lessons. Dinners were served at different locations around the resort--under a gazebo, on the beach... and native flowers and candlelight adorned each table. Diana, the chef, managed to serve gorgeous meals three times a day. They even packed a picnic for a boating outing that was fit for royalty. They hire all local staff, and they are incredibly warm and helpful.

This is definitely not the place for someone who cannot climb stairs (there are alot of them, and they are of varying heights, some 3"' high, some 14"!.) The bugs were not that bad--we only had lake flies one evening, and it was manageable.

We would definitely return. The only bad part of the trip was our South African Airlines flight from London to Johannesburg and back--the coach seats were awful--definitely business class next time. If you go, be sure to tell Craig and Diana (and James and Suzie) that the Pennsylvanians say "Thank You" for a wonderful eight days!

  • Stayed: October 2007, travelled with family
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3  Thank maryzeitler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kaya Mawa

Address: P.O. Box 79, Likoma Island, Malawi
Region: Malawi > Northern Region > Likoma Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Likoma Island
Price Range: £390 - £504 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Kaya Mawa 3.5*
Number of rooms: 7
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Also Known As:
Kaya Mawa Likoma Island
Kaya Mawa Malawi/Likoma Island

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