Located in north-eastern Malawi on the south western tip of Likoma Island, Kaya Mawa is the result of an extraordinary 6 year project, and one of Lake Malawi’s finest luxury eco-lodges.
Lacking electricity, power tools and machinery, the building of Kaya Mawa is a story in itself. Highlights include the fact that some of its outsourced materials – carried, transported by lorry, and shipped by steam boat – took 18 months to reach Likoma; that the workforce was composed entirely of locals, many of whom now work for Kaya Mawa Lodge; that the then owners delayed the lodge’s opening as a result of refusing to pay side-money at various bureaucratic desks.
Set among a mix of lakeside trees (including baobabs), Kaya Mawa is a stone, teak and thatch build, and consists of a main lodge and 11 variously sized chalets. The shared areas include a lounge, bar, dining room, extensive decking, plunge pool and library area. With exposed rock walls, handle windows and French doors, the feel of the main lodge is very much that of a large cottage, and it is only the thatched roofing – whose shape is somewhat reminiscent of a Vietnamese peasant hat – that brings us back to Kaya Mawa’s sub-tropical location. Inside, the cottage feel is further reinforced by a warm wooden floor, and by the stone bar. The seating is cane, and the dining room ceiling familiarly cavernous.
FOOD AND SERVICE
The dining – buffet or a la carte – is excellent, as is the service, and the lodge easily caters for a variety of tastes and diets. Look out for a selection of herbs handpicked from the lodge’s own gardens, and fresh lake fish caught in the morning.
The chalets are divided into 4 classes: standard, family, premium and house. There are 4 standard rooms, all individually named. Alas, it is impossible here to do justice to their various designs. Each possesses a handmade king-size double bed, homemade teak furniture, veranda and separate bathroom.
The bathroom includes a stone-set tib, shower, flush toilet and shower. The 2 family sized cottages are similar, only bigger, and come with 2 bedrooms and lounge – one includes an upstairs bathroom, while the other sports a hanging bed. The 3 suites are extraordinary: one is on its own island, and is accessed by a walkway, another has 3 separate decking areas, and the last comes with its own pool. Mainja House has 2 bedrooms, a huge lounge, private terrace and pool, while Madimba House is enormous, chic and perfect for deep pocketed honeymooners. Limited – but functional – internet is available in the office.
Activities include sailing, fishing, kayaking, diving, snorkelling, mountain/quad biking and exploring historical and cultural places of interest with a local guide.
From its inception Kaya Mawa has been part of the community and assisted by the locals. All their staff come from the bordering three villages. As the lodge explains:
Malawi Dream (our Partner charity)
Our Island Child project provides funds that enable self-governance at Nkwasi secondary school.
So far, the locals have distributed this money to pay for scholarships for pupils at the school, equipment, two teachers’ salaries and helps maintain the fabric of the buildings.
Chisomo Nursery School
Previously, Chisomo’s Nursery ‘School’ was actually just a tiny room with forty children cramped into it, so we have helped to build a new one. The school also doubles up as a community hall that holds a mother and baby clinic, saving many parents hours of walking through sweltering heat to see a nurse. The nursery school is staffed by local volunteers who have undergone training at the educational office. We have helped provide uniforms, a feeding programme and equipment for the pupils.
Mbungo Primary School
Mbongo had a primary school before we started work on Likoma. However, as a direct result of our work, it now has electricity, uniforms, text books, a kitchen block, a cook and a Parent Teacher Organisation.
The Village of Mbungo
Goat Pen: Goats are not simply a source of meat and milk for the locals. They now collect dung and use it as a fertiliser. We have developed a project where needy families in Mbungo are given a goat. When that goat is impregnated by a ram, the kid is given to the next needy family on the list. In this way we hope that many families will soon have a goat of their own.
Water Project: Growing vegetables, like so much else on Likoma, had previously been thwarted by the lack of fresh water. Previously, water had only been available from the lake, but we have helped the locals create their own water stands. This has had a far reaching impact. The locals can now make bricks, creating much sturdier and safer dwellings. They can also start to cultivate their own gardens, leading to greater self-sufficiency. The water project has now been extended intro Nkhwazi. Our dream is that, in time, every village on Likoma Island will have its own Water Stand.
Khuyu Nursery School
We have now completed the building of the brand new nursery school at Khuyu village. It will house 45 pupils and be run by local people who we have trained on the Island.