My wife & I have just returned from 7 night honeymoon at Kaya Mawa and we loved every minute of it. It followed on from a 3-day Safari in SA and was intended to ensure complete relaxation before finally heading home – it did exactly that.
The lodge is located on the southern most tip of the Likoma Island and is nestled into a rocky outcrop between two beaches. We got there
via a 4-seater 1hr air-taxi flight from Lilongwe Airport.
On arrival we were welcomed by James & Susie - one of two couples who
manage the lodge (think that's right!). James got us a much needed drink and gave us a matter-of-fact run down of the various activities
and hazards etc before showing us to hut 2 - our room from the stay.
As far as the obvious hazards are concerned: Malaria - we didn't get bitten once during our stay - perhaps we got lucky with the weather/time of year. I'm not sure we saw a mosquito at all during the entire stay (the lack of standing water and lake breeze maybe helps this). We took Malarone all the same (you’d be fool not too) - so far so good.
Bilharzia - again no signs yet! There are next to no reeds near the lodge and the water was only completely flat for 1 day in 7 (if that)
thanks to the lake breeze which was well received to temper the effects of the sun. We may take some tablets all the same after a couple of weeks just to be sure - better safe than sorry. It didn’t stop us from spending several hours a day in the water.
Lake fly do appear from time to time - particularly near the paraffin
lamps in the evenings - but at no point did it affect us adversely (they don't bite). We followed James' advice concerning minimising the use of lights in the huts and turned down lamps during the evening/nights and were never bothered by them in our hut. On our return flight the pilot did point out a couple of clouds of lake fly right out in the middle of the lake which from 3 thousand feet up looked huge and dense – I imagine it’d be unpleasant it they hit shore when you’re there. Apparently this occasionally happens but only lasts a short while. We did encounter the odd spider and even a bat in our hut – the wife’s not keen on spiders (neither am I but perhaps a different degree of dislike!) but they never troubled us (out of sight out of mind…).
The food was great - after filling ourselves on Safari it was good to get back to a more normal quantity of food (by choice!). The meals
can be taken anywhere - either in the restaurant (at the top of the lodge with beautiful views of the lake) or outside your hut or in the bars etc... Lunch is anytime after 1pm - we tended to eat it outside the bar overlooking the lake. Dinner - typically we met up with people in the bar after 6 and, when hungry, people disperse to various romantic destinations around the lodge (beach, deck outside hut, under the baobab trees, honeymoon island gazebo or dining room) to be waited on by the locally recruited staff. Neither my wife nor I are picky eaters - every meal resulted in a clean plate and neither of suffered any dreaded stomach upsets. They’ve just introduced a room service operated by walkie-talkie (no phones after all) which we made use of primarily for sunset Pimms but can be used to get snacks etc and order breakfast in your room if you can’t be bothered to leave it.
The lodge itself falls into the rustic luxury category - if you're after the plush luxury of a 5 star hotel then this isn't for you. All
the buildings are built by hand out of the local rocks/cement and often built around some large boulder to make an interesting feature.
The lodge has mains electricity from morning until ~10pm - after 10pm
a local generator keeps things running until everyone is in bed (uk plugs for chargers etc). After that all the huts have 12v lighting/fans charged by solar panels during the day. All rooms have hot water heated by a wood boiler - we weren't sure when/who looked after that but there was always hot water when we wanted it. All the rooms have a bath/shower built out of stone and most had a loo with a view of the lake. Windows etc are built by hand i.e. have gaps/aren't flush but we had them open all the time anyway (day & night) to keep things cool - there are long flowing white drapes for all windows. The beds are huge - with a rock base + thick comfy mattress and a good quality mosquito net. Fans are provided - 12v and
mains - we only ever used the 12v above the bed at night. Our hut had
a cushion-covered rock bench and table immediately outside plus a deck over the water with sun beds and an easy route to snorkelling (we also had several romantic sunsets and dinners there). Two (I think) of the lodges are situated on the other end of a 100m beach to the west of the main lodge – a further 2 midway along that beach. We took an opportunity to look round them when they were not in use and the two remote huts really make brilliant use of some massive boulders to make a unique layout – with the obligatory loo with a view of course! Honeymoon Island – across the bridge – looks great. We visited it when it was empty but never stayed there. Those we spoke to who did stay there seemed to like it – the bridge isn’t for anyone with mobility problems.
In terms of things to do - you can be as active or inactive as you like. The lodge only has 10 huts so it never feels busy and you can be as reclusive or social as you like. We tried to do relatively active things every other day - this included snorkelling most days, a picnic for 2 on a nearby rock island out in the lake, mountain biking round the island, a day’s boat trip round the island to see the local school, the cathedral and do some fishing . We also made good use of the laser 1 sailing boat, ventured onto the surf skis and had a crack at some wake boarding (unsuccessfully). Bikes & snorkelling gear is all new and good quality – there was mention of new scuba gear to emerge shortly (current stuff look reasonable to the untrained eye) but we preferred to stick to top of the water (no one used the scuba whilst we were there). Laser and surf skis are not new but perfectly functional and lake-worthy.
Surprisingly there’s also Internet Access in the reception - no telephones or mobile coverage (mobile access on its way though). We used none of it and were glad to be out of contact and away from ringing mobile phones for the duration of the stay. Drinks and petrol powered activities are charged for in US dollars – we took some dollars with us but in the end paid the bill online before we left. The lodge provided us with local currency (kwacha) when we needed it and added any that we used to our bill. They even gave us a honeymooners leaving gift of a 5ft paddle to make sure everyone knows you’ve been somewhere remote and hot when you get home!
All round an extremely memorable destination for a holiday (especially honeymoon) - I would go back but in reality it's not likely to be for a few years. I'd recommend it to anyone.
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- Also Known As:
- Kaya Mawa Likoma Island
- Kaya Mawa Malawi/Likoma Island