Island paradise at Mumbo, Malawi


This latest report just in from our roving travel correspondent and newlywed, Susie Vester, who spent her honeymoon on Mumbo Island off Cape Maclear in . The Mumbo Island concession is operated by Kayak Africa.



This is one of those places where you think, ‘This is so beautiful, I have got to share it with everyone I know so that they can experience this; but then, if I tell everyone about this, it won’t be my little secret anymore, and so maybe I should not tell anyone and keep it all to myself, for myself…’. Kind of like the last Rolo in the pack. Its so good you don’t want to share it, but you really want someone else to taste it so that they can also enjoy how good it is!


Mumbo Island is the most peaceful place I have visited in Africa. A tiny island off the south of the lake – access is via boat transfer, or for the adventurous (read: Kev and Sooz), you can kayak out to it (approximately 1.5 hours). I’d recommend the latter as I think you really need to ‘earn your stay’ on this magnificent island. The entire island is run on eco-friendly principles with the premise being that, should they want to leave the island tomorrow, they could literally pack up what is there and the island would return to its original state in a few days – undiscovered, untouched. That means no electricity, no flush toilets, no ‘normal’ showers. And that is what makes it what it is!

Your body clock quickly adjusts to ticking along in time with its original design — going to sleep when the sun goes down, and getting up when the sun comes up. Light is generated through a few paraffin lamps strategically placed along the pathways to the 5 tents on the island; toilets are ‘fancy long drops’ — the familiar porcelain loo which is based on a compost system, as opposed to a flush system – with compost being removed from the island and used by the local mainland community for agriculture; and showers are ordered 10 minutes ahead of time – with one of the friendly staff members bringing a bucket of hot water to your tent bathroom (all en-suite) and hoisting it into a ‘bucket-with-tap’ contraption that provides at least 10 minutes of a warm shower! Not that you need it after spending the swimming and snorkeling around the island! Although, it did help to relax tired muscles after completing one of the walks, watching the 30-odd bird species on the island, kayaking into caves in search of otters and bats, and jumping off 6-8m rocks to keep the adrenalin levels satisfied! And if that didn’t work, you could always play ‘chicken’ with one of the local monitor lizards around the island!




For someone who loves the ocean, Mumbo is like the calm waters of some of the Mediterranean, without the salt content. Visibility is 30-40m easy and there are over 600 species of cichlids that reside in the lake – so snorkeling feels like you are in an expanded aquarium, surrounded by colourful, small fish that dart between rocks and coves. Its like a rainbow under there, with the odd ugly catfish making an appearance. Hell, they may look ugly, but man, they are tasty! Speaking of food… Mumbo’s resident chefs know how to produce wholesome local cuisine to satisfy any hunger pangs after a long day of doing pretty much nothing but enjoying yourself in the sun. All you need to do is end the meal perfectly with a local Malawian gin and tonic. Mmmmnnnn… paradise.

I’ve traveled extensively around the world and within , and its funny how I always end up forgetting how intense Africa’s beauty really is in comparison with some of the incredible places I have traveled to overseas. Africa’s beauty is in its rawness, its smell, its taste. And magical Mumbo offers all of that in abundance.

The Mumbo Island concession is owned and operated by Kayak Africa. For more see:


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