I’d first heard about Mumbo Island 2 years ago when my Aunt residing in Malawi suggested that we take a visit there on my annual holiday back home. Although I don’t live in Malawi at the moment, travel is such an ingrained part of me and each time I come back home I always make it a point to visit some place or the other – with the lake always on my list.
In the past when I had inquired about availability, Mumbo Island had always been full. This time, I let Kayak Africa – the owners of the eco-lodge at Mumbo Island – know that I was here for a month and available any time during then. Believe it or not, they had only 3 days available! I didn’t even think twice and booked my stay.
I made my way in late June on an early morning to Cape Maclear, my heart filled with anticipation given that I’d heard so much about this place. I couldn’t help but wonder too if the island looked as good as the photos suggested.
One 45-minute boat ride later, Mumbo Island lay in front of me.
Trust me when I say this: it looked better than the photographs.
The first sight of the adorable chalets nestled in unique locations on top of the island caught my breath. Oh-so-blue waters at every corner, and the lake was crystal clear as we got closer to the Island. The tranquility of this place seemed unlike no other…
The host of the island, Norah, introduced herself to me warmly and showed me in and around the area. Lost in the serenity of the gorgeous location, I struggled to keep up with all that she was saying. I had 2 days to explore the island; it felt like so much to do and not enough time.
At my chalet, I had a view that would overlook the sunrise, with a hammock to accompany. I could already picture lazy afternoons on this hammock and coffee mornings with views of the sunrise – this place seemed like paradise to me. There’s no electricity on the island either, no signal, allowing for a complete disconnection from the outer world.
It was just what I needed. 🙂
Inside, there are two single comfortable beds nestled in each corner. It’s a basic, comfortable and rustic room that’ll allow for a peaceful sleep.
After lunch later that afternoon, all the guests on the island took a boat out for some snorkelling and rock jumping. The waters beckoned to me and my snorkelling experience in those hours were wonderful, with an endless fascination of the variety of cichlids and other fish between the rocks.
An hour later and in a fresh pair of warm clothes, we made our move out for the sunset cruise. With 5 people on the boat plus the guide, there was not a single other boat in sight. Clouds patterned the sky, and the sunset was a heart-stopping one.
Initially, I’d planned on doing this trip alone and taking some time out to figure out some things going in my life. However over dinner I was pleasantly surprised to join a couple, another single lady and Norah for a wonderful conversation and dinner. Needless to say sleep came easily from the long and exciting day.
My alarm woke me up the next day in time for the sunrise. I’d heard enough about it and I pulled myself out of bed, grabbed the camera and sat on the hammock in the chilled winter air, awaiting for the colours to light the sky. The sun rose slowly, glowing and lighting up the sky for yet another exciting day.
After my delicious breakfast, I had planned to go Scuba Diving – which had been one appealing factor about this place. Admittedly, I’ve been snorkelling at Cape Maclear before and the array of fish species including cichlids are wondrous. Hence I couldn’t help but be curious to see what lay in store in deeper waters…
I’d gotten in touch with Rob Assad who was going to guide the scuba diving around the island. He runs a diving school at Cape Maclear, and if any of you folks are looking at diving here, with a guide or getting a certification/license to dive – I’d recommend you contact him! Details below. My diving experience around the island had been so wonderful – I can’t even explain how fascinated I was with all of the fish I saw underwater. I honestly kept following them, and every now and again would remind myself to make sure I didn’t wander away too far. It’s moments like this where I wish I had a camera to take photos underwater.
Back from the dive, I spent the afternoon lazing away with my kindle on the hammock. There were moments where I would keep the book down and just wallow in the sun, the sound of the birds soothing around me with the waves lapping at the shore. By mid-afternoon, the lake was completely calm. Debating between kayaking and snorkelling, I decided to take another underwater swim and snorkelled my way near the bay where there were plenty of cichlids just swimming their way around.
I had made up my mind to take a hike around the island at some point during my stay. With no dangerous animals at Mumbo, only non-poisonous snakes, spiders, lizards and a variety of birds, I had nothing to fear 🙂 No monkeys either much to my surprise!
Pod Rock is one of the spots on the island where you can get an uninterrupted view of the sunset. Norah had mentioned to me that the hike to Pod Rock would take about 30-40 minutes, so I head out fairly early to allow for some time to stop and take pictures every now and again.
There are sign boards on the way so it’s not that easy to get lost – and the last stretch has you climbing with rocks (not the easiest with a camera and on your own). However the view from the top is truly immense.
Imagine just sitting on your own, on this rock, with the lake spread out beneath you – it truly was a sight to see.
More about Mumbo Island
Mumbo Island is gorgeous space of land that is a part of Lake Malawi National Park, lying approximately 10km away from Cape Maclear. This beautiful island is filled with nature; non-dangerous animals and a variety of birds. Kayak Africa runs their eco-lodge on Mumbo Island that promotes environmental sustainability. Solar power is the main source of energy – there’s no electricity on the island – with basic usb ports powered with solar energy to charge any devices.
Things to do at Mumbo Island
- Scuba Diving
- Hiking the nature trails around the island
Scuba Diving in Cape Maclear
If you’d like to go for a dive at Cape Maclear, you can contact Rob Assad at firstname.lastname@example.org. I personally thought it was fairly budget friendly and the experience had been truly wonderful – definite recommendation if you’re visiting Cape Maclear!
When to visit
Given that the island is known for it’s tropical weather, my personal recommendation would be to visit between March and September; just after the rains and even towards the latter months where it will be quite cool.
About the host
Norah was a wonderful and accommodating host. I remember at the beginning when I’d met her, she asked me if I’d wanted to be left alone, and let me know that it was completely fine too – and I thought, bless her 🙂 Surprisingly I stepped out of my comfort zone and ended up making more conversation with the guests than I thought! Norah been amiable and a great conversationist; you’re in good hands with her – believe me.
Although hosts of various lodges may not stay long-term, I believe that if I’ve had a good experience with the host I’d like to mention them in my blogs.
I had such a wonderful experience at Mumbo Island and can’t wait to come back again! Shoutout to Kayak Africa and the staff on the island for all the assistance and the hospitality!
Follow @this.girl.from.malawi for more of my photos on Instagram – link on the side too. 🙂
Follow @MumboIsland for more of their photos on Instagram.