The Hidden Beauties of Nkhata Bay, Malawi
As the wise saying goes - it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.
Well, in our case, the journey to Malawi prepared us for what’s ahead.
On our way to our next stop in Africa, Nkhata Bay, we took a very long bus ride. It was the local bus so along with us came many people shoved in, their babies, fish, chickens etc... The bus literally stopped every 5 mins to pickup and/or drop off a passengers.
Since this was a 6 hour bus ride, we were in much need to do a bathroom break. Unfortunately in Malawi, not many people have the privilege of having indoor plumbing and there were no gas stations along the way. At least not on the route we took. We asked the bus driver to stop and he kindly went knocking on doors asking people if anyone had a toilet we could use. A kind local offered us help and invited us into his home. We were so thankful for his kind heart and his hospitality. Even though he had no electricity, we managed and were shortly on route again. What an eye opening experience this was for all of us.
Later we got an explanation – power outages in Malawi happens every day all over the country, for anywhere from 4 to 10 hours. It did seem unimaginable and impractical in the beginning, but in the end, it was actually okay for us since you don’t need too much light to enjoy the outside beauties which we were about to unveil.
At the same time, we were amazed at the openness of the people who live here. Their kindness and willingness to make every soul feel like they are home melted our hearts.
Our next stop was Mayoka Village Beach Lodge, a beautiful cottage resort located on Lake Malawi. This is a destination spot for many travellers and people working in different organizations to get a break and have a little taste of luxury. Mayoka offers Internet (always important), the most amazing food and many activities. We especially loved the breakfast muesli and their stove oven pizza!
This was a perfect place to chill and relax and meet other fellow travelers 2 of which we ended up traveling to our next destination. The girls loved being able to discover lake Malawi by kayak,cliff jumping into the lake and simply sunbathing and playing on their floating dock. We were a little scared of the crocodiles but apparently they stay near the river beds and there were so many of us if felt like we had security in numbers. 🙂 They have dormitorios and also family cabin like units which we stayed in. The owners are originally from the UK and they have thought of every detail to make a stay at Mayoka super enjoyable.
And so, the exploration began.
What Should You Know about Nkhata Bay?
Although it represents one of the bigger ports on Lake Malawi, Nkhata Bay is actually a hidden and unexplored place for many people. This makes it perfect for experiencing African culture and enjoying the peace of the lake itself; it’s flora and fauna.
Since Nkhata Bay is a primary fishing village, of around 15,000 inhabitants, the life of the locals revolves around the lake. However, even though this place might be off the grid, in the heart of the village, you can find markets, pharmacies, to different banks with ATMs. (when we were there, it only worked with visa cards so it’s best to take money out at the ATM’s in Mzuzu)
Throughout the village’s history, the lodges and cabins were built with sticks and mud, but as the time passed, modern ways took over. Now, you can come across a few hotels, and even ecolodges, dating since 2005, which are the part of the government project.
The climate gives this place a unique atmosphere, since there are rainy seasons, beginning at the end of December, lasting till the end of April, and also dry season, which lasts for the rest of the year. Such climate creates a feeling that you are spending your time in a rainforest on the edge of the sea.
What to Visit in Nkhata Bay?
Located 20 minutes of walking is the only beach in the bay, Chikale Beach. Here, you can really get to see how laidback the locals are. You can enjoy playing volleyball, or just relax in the shade on the sand. We were able to take part in helping the local kids during one of their swimming classes.
Feeding of the fish eagle
This is one of the biggest tourist attractions, and if you ask the locals, they would be happy to show you this beautiful creature. Just get in the boat, throw some fish in the lake, and watch the magic happen!
Fish eagles have been here for a long time, and they are not afraid of people. This way, they get free food, so it’s a win-win situation!
Good Hope school
Good Hope School is one of the happiest places in the whole bay since there are so many children happily jumping and laughing, it simply puts a smile on your face. With their three classes, these kids are eager to learn and create every day.
The school is constantly looking for new teachers, so you can check the opportunity to work here out if you are up for a challenge.
We love how the volunteers who teach at the Good Hope are constantly working to improve the learning experience for children. Funds are continually being raised for different trips, and solar panels, since the power cuts can sometimes be as long as 25 hours!
One thing not to miss in Nkhata Bay is food. You can find a few different cuisines offering from Thai or Indian food and most importantly, the local dishes. Be sure to check out the restaurant called “Sweet Papaya” (formerly known as Kaya Papaya) and a little café and art gallery called “One love.” With their beautiful bay view, these places are sure to leave you speechless. The best food you’ll find though is at Mayoka Village. They had food from around the world. Oven pizzas
If you want, you can visit the Kawalazi coffee plantation. It is located halfway to Mzuzu and managed by Sikh, who will gladly show you how it operates. Also, around the bay, you can find tea and rubber plantations at Chombe.
Pro Tips for Curious Travelers
Various activities are the thing that will make your visit to this place so unique and adventurous. They can really show you what it’s like to live here.
- First things first, you need to know when to visit Nkhata Bay. Because of the climate, if you decide to visit this place in dry seasons, be prepared for hot weather. That’s why a better option is going at the end or beginning of the rainy seasons. It will cost less if you decide to come in a rainy season, too!
- Another thing great about rain seasons are the sunsets and sunrises. Sunrays, combined with dew that covers the flourishing greenery around you, create a fairytale-like feeling. It’s also the perfect weather for sleeping.
- As we already stated, power cuts happen every day, so it’s a good idea to have electric lamps or lanterns by your side.
- One of the notorious traits of the bay is malaria. Even though everyone in Nkhata Bay has had this disease, there are ways of preventing it and its consequences. You can buy testers and antimalarials at the pharmacy. But, prevention is the key, so you should buy those medications, too.
- Another threat to be aware of is crocodiles and hippos, which can sometimes be seen at dusk, just before the night falls. Attacks rarely occur, but it is still something you should have in mind.
- If you are in for an adrenaline rush, snorkeling can be found for $250, or you can try kayaking, and cliff jumping. White cliff is the best place to jump, so don’t forget to add it to your checklist.
- Great way to see the whole bay is by taking a water taxi tour. It can easily transfer you from one part of the bay to the other, and you’ll have a chance to see the village from another perspective.
- We advise you to check out the souvenir shops, which are full of unique little things so that you’ll never forget this marvelous place!
Be sure to watch our YouTube video, to take a closer look at our Nkhata Bay experience and learn more exciting details!
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Until our next adventure together, feel free to reach out!