Mumbo Island is an uninhibited spit of land 11 km off the coast of Cape Maclear in Lake Malawi National Park. One of the few classified tropical islands in Lake Malawi, it is surrounded by pristine waters that shimmer blue, turquoise, and green. Kayak Africa manages a small camp on the island that caters to just 14 guests at a time.
To visit the island you can kayak or take a large motor boat called the “Feersum Endjinn.” The trip takes about an hour (two if by kayak) and the voyage helps you feel even more removed from reality as your cares and stresses drift away, sailing through the placid waters of Lake Malawi.
Over and over again you hear how remote, removed, and unique Mumbo Island is – a truly private paradise. Empty except for playful otters, song birds, soaring fish eagles, and a few Jurassic-looking monitor lizards, the island is yours to explore by foot or by kayak.
The rooms, spacious canvas safari tents with thatch-roofed porches, are perched on cliffs overlooking the bottle-green water. They are sparsely decorated with comfortable beds, a few small tables, and an inviting hammocks stretched on the porch.
This, plus the fact that Mumbo was recently rated one of the Top 100 Hotels in the World made us think that this would be the perfect place to take Will and Allison. Will and Allison spent an action-packed week with us over Easter, a visit that included several visits to Open Arms, multiple rounds of golf, and lots and lots of good food.
Will and Allison are pretty much up for anything and take things in stride, but when we told them that the luxurious place we’d chosen to visit had no electricity and ‘eco-loos’, they had (they admitted later) a complete freak-out.
Why would we chose to go somewhere with no electricity or flushable toilets?
Mumbo, in addition to being beautiful, serene, remote, and luxurious, is also an eco-lodge. It prides itself on being environmentally friendly and it takes that commitment seriously. For example, the shampoo and soap are biodegradable and the only hot water on the island is heated by a solar geyser. It makes such a small footprint that the camp could be dismantled and within one passing of the seasons, all traces of it having ever been there would disappear.
So back to those “eco-loos”… the bathrooms, with their dry composting toilets and bucket showers sound rustic and not very cozy. They are, however, amazingly luxurious (the bucket showers especially). The guys are incredibly adept at filling the buckets with water that is just the perfect temperature and the specially fitted nozzles give a good water pressure. While showering, you can feel a cool breeze and gaze out at the stunning lake water below.
Needless to say, when Will and Allison got to Mumbo, all of their worries of discomfort disappeared and they ended up loving every minute of it. We kayaked, snorkeled, walked, went for a sundowner cruise, ate too much, played bao, laid in the hammocks, enjoyed early morning tea on our porch, and sat around not believing that we actually got to spend the weekend here.
Mumbo is one of those places that makes you appreciate everything around you; you arrive overwhelmed by the beauty and simplicity of the island and leave refreshed and with memories to last a lifetime.
Will and Allison’s trip went by way too quickly, but we loved getting to spend time with them and watch them fall in love with Malawi. Considering that they dealt with power outages, water cuts, our scalding hot shower (or alternately, our freezing cold shower), mosquito nets, and the aftermath of the death of the President, I’d say they handled their African journey extremely well!
And a special thank you to both of them for all they did for Open Arms, including lugging four massive suitcases packed full with diapers, clothes, shoes (and even Reeses for me!) across oceans and continents!