Though there are many places to stay and relax along the long, narrow lake, a higher concentration are found in an area called the ‘Southern Lakeshore’.
|View from Nanchengwa Lodge|
|View from Makokola Retreat|
This stretch of sandy shore starts at Cape Maclear and meanders south to the relatively large town of Mangochi. In between lie numerous resting points, varying from the scraggy to the sublime.
|Electrics on show in the rainy season? Check!|
|If you pay top dollar, you get a top view|
We live comfortably here but there are some places which are simply way beyond our spending power. One example is the Makokola Retreat, a Malawian institution also known as ‘Club Mak’.
|Makokola has beautiful gardens|
My book says that a night at Makokola will set you back a mind-boggling $264 per person per night. Exclusive doesn’t begin to describe it. Certainly not somewhere we’ll be staying unless we win it as a prize.
|Makokola has its own airstrip, complete with immigration|
so international visitors can 'enter' Malawi here
Not to say that it’s entirely out of reach. For a small fee (4000MWK, £4) you can enter and use the facilities for the day.
|Maybe with a higher fee you would be provided|
with adult tennis rackets...
Their main selling point is a 30 metre swimming pool, from which you can stare at the shimmering lake.
|Makokola are currently expanding so there will be more|
pools on the lakeshore
|The pool at Makokola Retreat|
You may think it strange that people would come to the lake and swim in a swimming pool. I certainly found it odd when I first heard about it. Two main safety reasons can explain it – one invisible, and one you hope to never see too close to your eyes.
|Warning: water contains bilharzia|
|Warning: much bigger reptiles lie in wait in the lake|
during rainy season
Bilharzia is always a threat around the lake. It comes from freshwater snails and is prevalent across the country. It’s easily treated here in Malawi with medicine but not something I ever wish to get.
|Bilharzia is a greater risk in stagnant water|
The other issue is a problem which occurs during rainy season. Crocs get washed down the rivers which feed into the lake, particularly at its southern end. On our first evening we watched one of the workers at the place we were staying go for a quick dip in the lake. The manager immediately ran out and shouted for him to return to shore. A large crocodile had been spotted about thirty metres away from him.
|When the crocodile call came out, no one was in the water|
|Rather than swim, these little treasures preferred to|
play with our instant print camera
It put a thought in the back of my mind that perhaps we shouldn’t be camping in the vicinity of an animal which is responsible for killing some humans in Malawi, but the manager of the lodge insisted that they never come ashore. That verbal reassurance meant we could enjoy the beauty of the beach, often from the picturesque jetty which stretches out into the lake.
|The view from our tent - admittedly better if you walk ten|
metres so the tree isn't in your way!
|The jetty at Nanchengwa Lodge|
No matter what your budget, there’s a place to stay on the Southern Lakeshore. And besides, enjoying the stunning views of the lake doesn’t cost a thing, as well as being the priceless memory you take away.
Love you all,