All our news and events. A monthly blog from Kayak Africa.

Our Skipper Wins Lake Malawi International Sailing Marathon!

We are so proud of our skipper, Matola Mwawa and his sailing partner Mcford M'bwana Issa for winning their division in the Malawi International Sailing Marathon.
They were loaned a Hobie Cat to sail by Hobie Cat South Africa, whose director was so impressed by their sailing prowess that he donated the yacht to Malawi.
This year the race began at Chembe Eagles Nest in Cape Maclear and ended up north in Nkhata Bay. The marathon ran from 28 June until 5 July.
Matola is back with us in Cape Maclear again, having to limit his sailing adventures to local cruises on Kayak Africa's hand built catamaran. You know you are in safe hands when you sail with our intrepid skipper!

The Ministry of Tourism and Kayak Africa at the Outdoor Expo

Kayak Africa and the Malawi Ministry of Tourism shared a stand on this year’s Outdoor Expo at the Sandringham Wine Estate outside Paarl in the Western Cape. The ministry was represented by Salad Nthenda and Kayak Africa by one of our directors, Clive Bester and booking agent, Bee Bester. The magnificent backdrop of the stand featured spectacular photographs taken by Anthony Grote who recently visited Cape Maclear and Mumbo Island. Many visitors spoke to Salad and Clive and we do hope that they will follow up with a visit to Malawi!

Spotted Necked Otters Seen Regularly on Mumbo Again!

Our Spotted Necked Otters are to be seen fairly regularly these days on Mumbo Island, having developed a preference for fishing and warming themselves on the rocks below Tent 5. Such a treat for the occupants of this very private chalet (informally known to staff as the honeymoon tent!).
Our island manager, Juliet, even had the privilege of swimming with them in one of Mumbo's secluded bays on one of her early morning paddles around the island. What joy!

University Student Comes to us for his On-Site Training

Kayak Africa are very happy to have a new trainee in Hotel Management seconded to us to do his on-site work experience with our company. Patrick Chipisa is staying with us for five months before he writes his final examinations.We hope and trust that our principles of managing these pristine islands in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable way will become a part of Patrick’s philosophy too.


Cape Maclear Primary School Educational Visit to Domwe Island

Kayak Africa has been offering educational trips to Mumbo and Domwe to local schools for three years now in the hope of fostering a sense of community involvement and understanding of the reasons why the islands in the National Park are precious, protected areas.


Mumbo Island one of Africa's Top 50 Sustainable Lodges

Mumbo was recently chosen chosen as one of the Top 50 sustainable lodges in Southern Africa in a new book titled “Africa’s Finest”.
Mumbo is featured in a gorgeous double page spread in the newly-published coffee table book: Africa's Finest. We underwent rigorous testing by an independent environmental assessor and came out with a "near-faultless" score, making our camp one of the Top 50 in Southern Africa in terms of our sustainable practices.


Kayak Africa Runs a Kayaking Course for St Andrews School

Saint Andrews Primary School is an international private school based in Blantyre. They recently booked with Kayak Africa to do a two day kayaking course for forty-eight students. Our kayak guides, Edward, Fred, Cleartone and Denford gave the students a crash course at Golden Sands beach in the National Park, spending two hours a day with each group. The students enjoyed learning to kayak with confidence and being able to explore the crystal clear waters of Otter Point by boat. This is the second year we have run this course for St Andrews pupils and it promises to become a much-loved yearly event.

Kayak Africa CoOrdinates Fire Fighting in Cape Maclear

A number of lodges, cottages and the Billy Riordan Clinic in Cape Maclear have clubbed together to purchase a high pressure water pump and long hose to fight fires in our local village. Because the village is largely built from reed and thatch, it is very vulnerable to the spread of fire. Villagers are very vigilant about setting up the call for help if they see a fire, but there is only so much one can do with buckets being filled from the lake. Kayak Africa sourced a custom made high-pressure fire pump in Cape Town and had it sent up to Cape Maclear last month.


We donate a huge bale of clothes to around 300 Local Orphans

In the previous four years, we have made clothes for the orphans looked after by Vision, a local man who runs an informal, but vital, feeding scheme for vulnerable children. This year, instead of using Mumbo’s old fabric to make the clothes we opted to buy a bale of children’s clothes for them from the charity which imports them. These clothes are more robust and longer lasting and we were worried that the chitenje clothes we provided previously perhaps set the children apart too much.


Easter on Mumbo Island

Easter on Mumbo was chocabloc with a full camp and many happy guests. The weather at this time of year is balmy and we love the busyness of this season. We had a few return guests who were delighted with the new reed bungalows replacing Tent 1 and 5 which were built in February – consensus was that they are “great”. We managed to get hold of a box of Easter eggs on one of our shopping trips to the city and surprised our guests with a beautiful parcel of chocolate eggs on their morning tea tray!

Mumbo Island New Building Developments

During the rainy month of February, we almost completely close the camp on Mumbo (apart from a few intrepid self-catering guests) and spend the time refurbishing and making improvements. Jurie and the carpentry team removed the tents from platforms 1 and 5 and built beautiful, big reed, wood and thatch bungalows on the existing decks.


Mumbo and Domwe Island Chitenje Cushion Covering

As we do every year, we have updated and refreshed all the cushion covers on Mumbo and Domwe with locally bought and printed cotton chitenje fabrics. In the last week of the year, when the island was almost empty, Billy, the local village tailor, come out on the boat with his beautiful old Singer treadle sewing machine and we set up an upholstery workshop in the lounge area of the family tent.


Local School Kids Visit Mumbo as reward for best exam results

Twenty four students and six teachers from Cape Maclear Primary School enjoyed a day trip to Mumbo Island this month.
Schools in Malawi were re-opened after the long holiday on 3 September. From last semester's examination results Cape Maclear Primary School chose the best three students from every class (1 to 8) to be rewarded for their excellent results with an excursion to Mumbo.


Past Guests Make Wonderful Donation to Vision's Orphans

The Chalker family, who recently stayed on Mumbo Island, recently put together a massive load of toys, clothes and gear to donate to Vision's orphanage in Cape Maclear, which they had read about in our Guide to Mumbo booklet.
Simon Chalker works in the courier business and organised to get the boxes flown to Lilongwe airport. Kayak Africa then delivered the boxes to Vision in Cape Maclear. Vision runs an informal feeding scheme for vulnerable children in the village. His only sponsor is Kayak Africa who support him with monthly donations and by buying the vegetables which he and the children grow in their garden. The Chalker family's donation of toys and clothes is a rare and wonderful opportunity for these children to receive new clothes and, for some of them, their first toy.

Chef Training on Mumbo Island!

August saw a wonderful week of chef training on Mumbo by the talented Juleta Hirner, who has been training the Mumbo chefs on and off since 2004. It's been a clattering, fragrant roller coaster ride full of unexpected joy and the odd maddening moment. The Mumbo chefs are pretty isolated: no glossy food magazines or recipe websites for inspiration, but the daily task of satisfying a myriad of tastes, from rarefied Swiss culture vultures to ravenous young honeymoon couples. This time around we have revamped the whole menu, line-by-line, cupful-by-cupful.


Kayak Africa supports Mission Malawi 5 Cycle Expedition

In May this year, Kayak Africa put together and supported the fifth Mission Malawi Cycle Tour. Mission Malawi is a biannual charity challenge raising money for HIV/Aids projects run by ActionAid in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. To date they have raised over £350,000.


Mumbo and Domwe Island at the Getaway Show in Cape Town

Kayak Africa had a stand at this year's Getaway Show in Cape Town for the first time in quite a number of years. Director, Clive Bester and long-time reservations person, Bee Roux, manned the stand for the three days of the show, talking to thousands of people and did a great job of exposing both Malawi and the islands to visitors.
Around 15 000 people visit the show every year.
Next up, Clive will be at the Malawi stand at Indaba, held at the Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban from 12 - 15 May this year. If you are attending, hope you find time to visit us!

School Visits to the islands continue this year

Between Joseph Kamanje, manager at Kayak Africa, and staff of the Lake Malawi National Parks, two successful visits by students at Cape Maclear Primary School were arranged this month. The top three pupils in each class of the school were given the trip as a reward for all their hard work. They were taken to Domwe by boat, treated to a good lunch and given a rousing talk on conservation and the work of National Parks and Kayak Africa to conserve the flora and fauna of the Lake Malawi National Park. We hope that these visits will help to foster an appreciation and understanding of the importance of these vulnerable areas.

Environmental Impact Assessment, top marks for Mumbo!

Mumbo recently underwent a close examination of its green credentials by an independent assessor to see whether it could be included in a coffee table book on eco-friendly resorts in Africa, and scored top marks!
The judge had this to say: "I could not find fault with your operation and scored you the highest of all the lodges I have assessed on the project, very, very well done!"


Mumbo Island Cover Story in new issue of SA Country Life

We were delighted to discover our island on the front cover of the latest issue (November 2012) of SA Country Life this month! The photograph shows Mumbo Island’s jetty with our island ferry about to arrive. The story, written by well-known travel feature writer, Dale Morris, recommends a sojourn on Mumbo to recover from the exhaustion of all the early mornings and driving of the typical African safari - and he is quite right! In his words; “Mumbo Island, my chill-out destination for the next few days, is probably the nicest of the many islands dotted across Lake Malawi, and is certainly the most romantic by far…. Next time I’ll be sure to bring my wife…”
As we are so fond of saying on the island, “It’s not heart-shaped for nothing!”

Kayak Africa a finalist in three categories of Imvelo Awards

The Kayak Africa team was thrilled at the nomination of our Mumbo Island Camp as a finalist in three categories at the recent 2011 Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism.
The three categories were:
· Best overall environmental management system
· Best waste management system
· Best social involvement programme.


Mumbo Spring Clean for the New Year!

After the rains and before the busy times which begin in March, we all head out to the island to make everything sparkly and fresh: we re-cover all the cushions in local chitenje cloth, which Billy the Tailor sews on his treadle Singer sewing machine; .... (cont.)


We built a Yacht!

In our carpentry workshop a little way down the beach from Reception, a team of carpenters working under Jurie’s guidance have built a wooden yacht, from scratch! It was finished in mid-February and a yacht rigger flew up from Durban to rig it – and it made its inaugural sail to Mumbo a week later. We have called it Miss Java, after Jurie’s daughter and it is a beautiful, graceful, white craft – simple to sail and with space to sleep in the two berths in the twin prows. Sunset cruises anyone?

Pilates retreat on Mumbo in October 2011

Five great ladies joined Renee Watson’s Pilates retreat in October on Mumbo Island for a weekend of pilates classes and much more: a sunset cruise, snorkeling, kayaking, hammock and beach time... and lots of laughs! From all accounts, this is a fantastic way to keep fit and enjoy some time out with your best women friends. Another retreat will be offered soon!


Kayak Africa’s Frogman Divers, credit their 700th diver!

Our efficient and charming SCUBA instructors, Rob Assad and Patrick Phiri, have just certified their six hundredth and one hundredth PADI divers respectively. Well done, guys – that’s a lot of teaching and diving! So come and dive with Rob and Patrick, knowing you are in safe hands.


Expedition up the northern Tanzanian shore of Lake Malawi

Kayak Africa completed a successful lake expedition covering approximately 1160 km in our faithful old wooden boat, Nankapakapa. The two American guests were treated to three days kayaking along the Livingstone Mountains on the Tanzanian lake shore. The scenery was stunning and we were lucky enough to have great weather during the kayaking portion of the trip.


Local Secondary School group visit Mumbo Island

Kayak Africa recently hosted the first of many school visits by local school children to Mumbo Island. This is a new initiative between National Parks and Kayak Africa, with the intention of showing every child in Chembe Village the importance of conservation in the Lake Malawi National Park and how this can benefit them directly.


Home made pasta (and a new home industry) on the island!

The latest great innovation on Mumbo Island is the making of home made, fresh pasta in our island kitchen.
Our innovative island manager, Mare, managed to procure two pasta machines from friends who no longer used them, and now each chef team has its own pasta-making equipment. With this, they make delicious fresh pasta for our guests when they do their week’s shift on the island. Carbonara, primavera, arrabiata – enjoy Italian flavour on our African island!


Glasses from wine bottles made by our staff on the island

Our drinking glasses on Mumbo are made from the wine bottles used on the island. Lately our island staff have learned how to make these glasses. During the quiet hours of the day, they make the glasses by tying a strip of linya (recycled strips of car tire) around the bottle and then heating it up by causing friction as two guys pull on it. They then splash the heated area with cold water and the bottle breaks cleanly. The edge is then finely sanded. We pay the guys for each glass made and either use them on the island, or sell them in our shop and to other lodges on the beach. How is that for true recycling? (Full story below)


More good ideas for green decor

Another great idea for green décor on Mumbo is the painting of the large snail shells found on the island. Marzi Callender began this tradition fifteen years ago when Kayak Africa first won the concessions to Mumbo and Domwe Islands. Recently we collected about fifty more shells and spent a day painting them in as many shades of blue, green and turquoise as we could mix, in as many patterns as we could invent. Some of our guests offered to help, and found the experience very therapeutic. The shells are placed around the camp as little hand-made objects of beauty to lift the spirits.

New clothes for Vision's orphans from our old cushions

Again this year we redecorated with fresh chitenje cloths - with which Billy Bwanali the local tailor, re-covered all our cushions. We then paid for him to make last year's faded, but good, covers into clothes for the village orphans. We do this every year - it seems to make more sense to re-use everything for the common good.
Vision is shown in the picture, with some of these vulnerable children, in the vegetable garden which they propagate for food and sell the surplus of for cash. We buy from him whenever he has spare produce to sell. So the salads on Mumbo are sometimes real feel-good food!

Staff Achievements and Qualifications

We are very pleased to announce that Joseph Kamanje, the charming man who meets you on arrival at reception at Cape Maclear, and runs our office there, has achieved 96% in the Tourism and Travel Diploma correspondence course run by DD Phiri, director and owner of the Aggrey Memorial School. We are proud of you, Joe!
Two of our boatmen, Akim Mvula and Faston Nok have also attained their Emergency First Response certification through PADI international, bringing to six the number of our staff who are now qualified First Aid practitioners.


The Big Kick, Malawi, 2010

In the same way that the Olympic torch is carried from the country who last hosted the Games to the new host nation, so Germany brought (by air, road and sometimes by foot as they dribbled along part of the route) a soccer ball down the length of the African continent to Cape Town, the 2010 host nation of the Fifa World Cup.
Kayak Africa arranged the Malawian leg of this epic trip,


Kingsley Holgate visits Mumbo and Cape Maclear

On the 2nd May, the larger than life “Grey Beard of African Adventure”, Kingsley Holgate, visited Cape Maclear. He and his entourage of volunteers are journeying north through Africa from South Africa to Uganda, taking in Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, as part of the United Against Malaria initiative, an umbrella partnership of many interested parties aiming to eradicate malaria in Africa.