Mumbo Island: Lake Malawi's Ecotourism Paradise

There are certain places in the world that have to visit at least once. Then there are other places in the world that visit once and don't want anyone else to discover. Mumbo Island is one of those places.

Situated at the Southern end of Lake Malawi, Mumbo Island is an example of sustainable ecotourism at it's finest. There is no electricity, compost toilets, bucket showers, and nothing but solar lamps and a few lizards to keep you company in the evening. It is back to nature at it's finest.

Simon Heyes standing on the bridge to the chalets - Mumbo Island


Despite it's rustic feel, Mumbo Island also has an air of luxury. There are three wooden chalets situated on a small sub-island, reached by a slatted wooden bridge from Mumbo Island's main beach. These chalets all face West, and have spectacular sunsets and views over Lake Malawi.

A sunset view from one of the main double rooms on Mumbo Island, Lake Malawi

The view into one of the lake view twin / double rooms, complete with hammock - Mumbo Island

Kayaks awaiting usage on the main beach at Mumbo Island

Sun loungers and kayaks on the main beach at Mumbo Island


My home for the night was in the family tent, a 4-person unit located on the main island, tucked away in the forest. There is only one place to stay on Mumbo Island, and this is it. The camp can occupy 14 guests in total, making it a great choice for a group retreat.

Family tent sign, Mumbo Island


AWARD-WINNING SUSTAINABILITY


Mumbo Island was recently named one of the Top 50 Sustainable Lodges in Africa. The founders of Mumbo wanted to ensure the camp made as little environmental impact as possible. The island itself is uninhabited, so it remains in a natural state without human interruption. If that's not enough, Mumbo Island was chosen as one of the top 100 hotels in the world by the Sunday Times Travel Magazine.

THE ISLAND


Before I arrived at Mumbo, I had no idea how big the island was, how many properties were based on the island, and which animals inhabited the island. Well, the island is tiny (1km in diameter), there's one camp, and there are some monkeys and lizards. That's about it.

The view of the chalets as you arrive at Mumbo Island - Lake Malawi

One of the many slatted wooden walkways on Mumbo Island


When you arrive on the island, you receive a walking map with a few lookout points. We visited pod rock, the lookout on the other side of the island. On the way back we got lost, but were still only 10 minutes late for dinner. The island is so small and compact, that even when you get lost, you aren't lost for long.

QUALITY DIVING & SNORKELLING


The real jewel in Mumbo Island's crown is the incredible crystal clear waters of Lake Malawi, that lap against the main beach and the ginormous sized boulders that give Mumbo Island its picture perfect look.

Lake Malawi has one of the greatest diversity of fresh water species than any other lake in the world. Combined with clear, calm waters (this is a huge lake, not a sea with tides remember), Lake Malawi National Park provides some of the best freshwater snorkelling and SCUBA diving in the world.

Snorkelling equipment on Mumbo Island

"I try and take all families and kids snorkelling at least once", said Franc, the camp manager. "You can dive, snorkel, swim, kayak, dive into caves, rock jump...it's an adventure playground".

He wasn't wrong. Aside from our walk around the island, my favourite activity on Mumbo Island was snorkelling around the island, checking out the colourful fish, and diving into caves, formed by the gigantic underwater boulders.

Then came the 9 metre cliff jump. The last time I did a cliff jump was after white water rafting in Rotorua, so thanks to that experience the nerves were at a minimum this time around.


WAITED ON HAND AND FOOT


The communal diving and living room are situated above the main beach on Mumbo, and meal times are announced courtesy of a large drum and wooden frog, the communal call that can be heard across the Southern part of the island.

The menu varies each night, with a combination of salad, rice, beans, meat, fish, stews and bread providing a wholesome, fresh dinner during your stay.  Breakfast is a similar story, with eggs, bread, fruit, muesli, tea and coffee being provided for you each morning.

Mumbo Island dinner menu - Kayak Africa


If that wasn't enough, the team at Mumbo really do go above and beyond, especially when it comes to shower time. Simply state what time you would like a shower, and the staff will boil some hot water for you, add some cold water to make it the perfect temperature and then add it to the bucket shower, providing you with a warm shower, as you keep an eye on nature over the bathroom bamboo wall.

A RELAXED FAREWELL


The journey to and from Mumbo Island takes around 45 minutes from Cape McClear. By the time your boat arrives to transport you back to the mainland, you'll have a sense of "I don't want to leave". On the plus side, you'll leave feeling incredibly relaxed, so trust me when I say your farewell to the rustic island will be a happy one :)

After Huntingdon House, Zomba marketLiwonde National Park, and Club Makakola, Mumbo Island was my penultimate night in Malawi. There was one evening remaining on the mainland, and that was an Damforth Yachting...

Check out the full video of my Mumbo Island experience below!



Disclaimer: I visited Malawi thanks to an invitation from South African Airways and Malawi Tourism. While the trip was sponsored by them, the views and opinions I present here are explicitly my own. To find our more about Malawi, please visit the Malawi Tourism website, and for more information about Mumbo Island, please visit Mumboisland.com.

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