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Published: January 31st 2019
The majority of travellers head to Chitimba when visiting this part of Lake Malawi. We opted for a couple of nights at Maji Zuwa
instead. We were attracted by the contribution they make to the local economy and the possibility of seeing some development work in progress. It didn’t quite work out that way.
Our minibus dropped us off by the main road and we dragged our luggage along a rough track for about a mile to the entrance. Having booked on Booking.com we were disappointed to find that they were not expecting us but pleased because the walk-in rate is substantially lower than on the website. The downside of not being expected was that the rooms were not exactly in a welcoming condition, or at least we hope that was the situation. Although our “gold” room (top of the range) was ready for occupation, it was far from clean and had a serious air of neglect to it. The hot water pipe for the shower, operated by a switch which did work, had no water running through it anyway. That meant cold showers only but it was hot and humid so it wasn’t really a problem. The promised fan was a
tiny desktop fan which needed careful positioning to blow on both is us in any way at all. The mosquito net was a cheap plastic affair which was designed for a single bed and was never going to be adequate for a double bed. Then, to make things worse, a strip light outside the door attracted lake flies in their millions (and I’m not kidding!) which meant we had to walk through a cloud of insects to get back into the room, and by the morning they produced a thick carpet of dead bodies on the floor, some of which came underneath our door!
Ok, that’s got the negatives out of the way! The bar area was lovely and the food we had from the restaurant was good and always on time as we ordered in advance. There is free-flowing drinking water available which is heavily filtered but tasted fine. We tried a few of the Malawi beers, all made by Carlsberg, and found Kuche Kuche to have the best taste while the stout was not as sweet as we had feared. Eating and drinking by candlelight on the first night was challenging as the electricity had gone off
but the breeze was preventing the candle from burning for any length of time.
The location is absolutely amazing. Set on a small cliff above the shores of Lake Malawi, it’s an easy climb down the steps to the beach. Swimming in the lake was nice but access to the water is across a lot of slippery rocks. Walking along the beach was interesting but we soon attracted a large crowd of children, the novelty of which soon wore off! Even their parents were keen on posing for photos with us. The downside was the cries of “give me money”. Our understanding was that the lodge was heavily involved in the community so we thought that this might be a little less prevalent than it was.
The lodge hosts outdoor classes for the local schools. We watched an algebra lesson from a safe distance. I’m not sure if we were more afraid of interrupting the teacher, or of being asked a difficult question! Lots of the local community seem to be involved in keeping the grounds of the lodge in good condition and everyone was very friendly.
We did enjoy our time there but as the only
guests on site most of time, we felt rather ignored. There were no walks into the local village on offer, or kayaking on the lake. Indeed, there was no information about anything available to us and nobody seemed to speak sufficient English to help us out or advise us about what we could do.
Our first glimpse of inefficiency and/or the inability to think, came when we asked about getting some washing done. The lad at the bar went to and fro between us and a woman in the kitchen who agreed to do our washing. He came back saying yes, she could do it. We asked how much it would be. He came back again saying it depended on how much washing we had. We gave him our washing and he eventually came back asking if we had our own washing powder. We said no and he eventually came back with a price. We agreed and he disappeared. We had to run after him asking him to take our washing! A few hours later he came over to say our washing was done. He didn’t bring the washing and seemed surprised when we asked for it. Then we
had to hang it all out to dry ourselves. Who knows how long it would have sat wet in a bag if we hadn’t been pro-active.
TIA as they say. This is Africa!!!
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