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Malawi Safari

Kaya Mawa Lodge

Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, Malawi

The view from Kaya Mawa Lodge on Lake Malawi
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View images of Kaya Mawa Lodge: Kaya Mawa Images

KAYA MAWA LODGE RATES: Kaya Mawa Lodge Rates

Rated by Condé Nast Magazine as one of the planet's ten most romantic destinations, Kaya Mawa is located on the south-western tip of Likoma Island in the far north-east of Lake Malawi, close to Mozambique. The island is covered with mango trees and ancient baobabs and encircled by glorious sandy beaches and rocky coves.

Likoma Island is the larger of two small islands situated in the far north of Lake Malawi, on the east of the Lake and very close to the Mozambique coastline. To visit the island is to step back in time.  Just 17 square kilometres in size, with one small dirt road and two vehicles, the local people survive largely by fishing, and farming rice and cassava. The island has hundreds of huge baobab trees and a number of glorious sandy beaches and rocky coves.  The waters are crystal clear throughout the year and the diving and snorkeling is among the best in Lake Malawi

Kaya Mawa Lodge is situated on the south-western tip of the Island at the head of a crescent-shaped bay, surrounded by mango trees and ancient baobabs. Translated as “Maybe tomorrow” in the local Tonga dialect, the lodge uses the stunning natural surroundings of beach, rock, island and lake to create a lodge of unique character, imagination and very special ambience.  With no machinery available on the island, Kaya Mawa Lodge was built entirely by hand, in partnership with the local community.

Accommodation            For images of Kaya Mawa Lodge, click Kaya Mawa Images
Ten stone and teak-framed thatched cottages - including two family cottages and one honeymoon chalet - have a panoramic view of the lake and private terraces with direct access to the water. Each one has en-suite bathroom facilities, a four-poster bed, shower, and a sunken stone bathtub. The honeymoon chalet with its incredible views is tucked away on its own private island.

The stunning setting of the lodge and the unique comfort of the rooms means that many guests choose to make relaxation their main activity but there are enough activities on offer to keep guests busy.

The stunning setting of the lodge and the unique comfort of the rooms means that many guests choose to make relaxation their main activity, but enough activities are on offer to keep guests busy.  Scuba (including Padi diving courses), snorkeling, swimming, sailing and visits to the local villages are part of the experience.  Day trips to Mozambique can be arranged. Access is by air or by boat.

The waters around the lodge are both safe and clear and swimming and snorkelling are on offer - some of the best snorkelling on the island is right at the lodge (snorkels and masks are provided). Alternatively there is a rock swimming pool right by the bar. The lodge has its own NAUI accredited instructor and excellent dive equipment and can offer casual dives as well as a range of instruction. Waterskiing, tube riding and wake snaking are offered as well as fishing trips and the lodge has a small wooden skip for sailing journeys around the island. Ovenight trips to Nkwichi Lodge and the Manda Wilderness area can also be arranged.

Kaya Mawa has several mountain bikes that guests may use to explore the island.  A round-the-island bike trip, with picnic lunch, has been popular with guests who are fit and enjoy getting out and seeing more of the island's.  For those who are a tad too ambitious on setting out, the few vehicles on the island are more than happy to throw the bikes in the back and give you a lift back to Kaya Mawa or perhaps down to the Hot Coconut, a vibrant & happening bar in town which is popular with the locals and tourists who come to Likoma as an opportunity to enjoy some Malawi music and ice cold drinks.

Keen fisherman are thrilled to be able to spend their mornings fishing straight outside their chalet.  At Kaya Mawa you can fish from the many bridges around the lodge for Chambo, Malawi's national fish, which the kitchen does with a lovely white wine sauce.  For those looking for the bigger fish, Kampango (or commonly called Catfish), may be caught in the deeper waters.  Lake fishing excursions are available for 1/2-hour up to a full day depending on what you fancy. The Kampango can be cooked many ways although the Kaya Mawa specialty, which is loved by all and even covered in South Africa's Elle magazine, is the Indian Fish Soup.

With no machinery available on the island, Kaya Mawa Lodge was built entirely by hand, in partnership with the local community.

The hot water system used in the lodge is from wood burning boilers - this wood comes from Mozambique and is an income-generating community project. The suppliers earn income and this goes towards the upkeep of reforestation woodlots.

In Malawi, land on the shores of the Lake is used for traditional slash-and-burn agriculture, this destructive farming technique impacting heavily on indigenous vegetation. Accordingly a number of indigenous nurseries have been started to provide replacement saplings to reforest the area. To date approximately 10 000 seedlings of indigenous trees as well as various fruit trees have been planted.

This reforestation project is underway on Likoma Island, and in Lake Malawi National Park at the southern end of the Lake, our operation at Mumbo Island supports DNPW in combating illegal fishing operations.

Likoma Cathedral
A huge cathedral stands on the slopes of a mountain on an island in the middle of Lake Malawi.  The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Peter, whose statue faces the lake, holding the keys in his hands while a big lock lies closed at his feet.

The island is called Likoma, which means beautiful, from "Silikoma" or "Sweet Land", but the site where the Cathedral is built is known as Chipyela, a name which bears no relation to beauty.  The word means  "place of burning", and it was here that  the first missionaries witnessed witches being burnt  at the stake.   

The first European to have reached Likoma Island is believed to be Elton, who landed there in 1877.  Like many other European explorers of his time, he spelled it incorrectly as "Dikoma."   Elton had sailed there to meet Dr. David Livingstone, but he had missed him, for Livingstone had landed on Chizumulu, the only other island worthy of a name on Lake Malawi, which lies nine miles west of Likoma Island.

The foundation stone of Saint Peter's Cathedral was laid by Bishop Trower on January 27, 1903, and it was dedicated by the same bishop on September 29, 1905.  The bishop had expected the work of building the cathedral to be finished by September 1905; however, the difficulty in transporting the material from the mainland to the island, coupled with delays in obtaining other material from overseas such as the colored glasses for the windows, delayed the work.  But the Bishop had to dedicate the unfinished Cathedral, for at this time the Lady Chapel, the Chapter house and other outer buildings had not been built yet.  Mills wrote in 1910:  "Now, in 1910, this great work is nearing completion… The Cathedral will not be consecrated till it is finished."

The Cathedral was finished the following year, and was consecrated by Bishop Thomas Crowther Fisher on November 14, 1911.

Lake Malawi
At approximately 600km from north to south and in places up to 80km wide, Lake Malawi, the third largest water body in Africa, constitutes roughly 20% of Malawi's surface area. It dominates the eastern side of the country and harbours a wide range of underwater habitats including sandy, weedy, rock-sand interface and reed beds. There are also a number of islands dotted across the Lake, separated from the mainland by sandy flats and deep water.

On the shores miombo woodland and baobabs occur, and mammals such as baboon, vervet monkey, dassies and hippo are most commonly sighted. Over 100 bird species are found, particularly waterbirds such as African Fish-eagle and large colonies of White-breasted Cormorant.

Lake Malawi is famed for the abundance and diversity of its fish life and holds a greater array of freshwater fish species than any other lake on Earth and more than all of Europe and North America combined. The majority of these are colourful fish called cichlids (their local name is mbuna) of which the Lake contains more than 400 types, 30% of all known species. Other fish species such as chambo form the primary protein source of the nearly 20 000 people that live on the lakeshore and beyond. Much of this astounding underwater diversity is protected within the Lake Malawi National Park at Cape Maclear in the south, the first in the world set aside for the protection of freshwater fish and a World Heritage Site.

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For further information about Malawi, click More Malawi

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