Monday, September 27, 2010

Cape Maclear

This small picturesque fishing community tucked away in a tiny jut into Lake Malawi in the south, some 18kms from the bustling town of Monkey Bay. It is probably the most quintessential Lake Malawi tourist destination.

However, chalet prices are expensive (although dorms and camping area offer better value), and it would appear that many backpackers are not prepared to pay the extra costs, which is a shame because this place is special.

Lake life

The turn-off for Cape Maclear from the main Monkey Bay Road is serviced by packed pick-up trucks, and i am fortunate to only have a 15 minute wait before slowly meandering up the 18km dirt track. It costs K200. I have heard of delayed departures involving a few hours!

Cape Maclear is part of the Lake Malawi National Park and includes a number of nearby islands where, you guessed it, boasts hippo pools, fish eagles, kayaking, snorkelling and diving. The park offers guide services at reasonable prices including excursions to Thumbi island, Otter Point and/or The Gap. A beach barbecue can also be arranged for US$10 per person including duck on the menu! There is a small but informative museum, but there is a charge of US$5 for foreigners park fee.

colourful cichlids shimmer underwater in the afternoon light

a healthy colony of fish eagles – i count at least 8 on Thumbi Island

Close to the park entrance are graves of some of the original British missionaries between 1878 – 1880.

Despite receiving a steady stream of foreigners there is still much excitement at “Mzungu” (white man) passing through the streets. I almost prefer Grandpa!

local house

I am staying at the rather special Chembe Eagle’s Nest at the far north of the peninsular who have offered me both a sizeable discount and visa payment for half board in a comfortable chalet – US$65. Camping is US$10. It’s beautifully quiet, very well maintained and the food is consistently good. Thanks Bro Suresh who has just brought himself all the jpegs he desires.

gazebo at Chembe's Eagles Nest

Those not camping and wishing to avoid dorms can stay opt for the reasonably priced Mustafa’s. Under German, UK and South African management, basic rooms start from about K3000.

Eating options include The Boma (at the Hiccup Pub) had daily specials, Geckos offers good snacks including beef samosas (K400), gujon fried fish pieces (K500) and pizzas start from K1300. The locally run Patrick’s Bar and Restaurant with dishes from K600 - K800. Taipei Garden Lodge offers some Asian style food.

sunset over Cape Maclear

Wifi throughout the village is provided by Skyband with vouchers costing K300/K600 per half hour / hour sold from Fat Monkeys.

Faces of Cape Maclear

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