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Travelling to Nkwichi – call it an adventure

Written by: Lake of stars competition winner, Robyn Frick

Travelling to Nkwichi Lodge on Lake Malawi is an adventure in itself, accessible only by boat from either Likoma Island – a Malawian island in Mozambican waters – or Cobue, a small village on the lake.

As we made our way toward the array of small aircraft lined up on the tarmac, one of which would take us to Likoma Island, my sister turned to me with a complete look of horror on her face and said, “We’re not flying in that thing are we?” That “thing” was a tiny Cessna aeroplane, or what I like to call it, a Volksie Beetle – as anyone that has been in either of these knows how noisy they are and that they’re equally limited for space inside.

 Ready for the flight to Likoma Island in the “Volksie Beetle” © Robyn Frick

Ready for the flight to Likoma Island in the “Volksie Beetle” © Robyn Frick

After some calming tablets and reassurance from our pilot, we headed off to Likoma Island, a 50 minute plane ride from Lilongwe. The views as you come in to land on the island are spectacular – from crystal clear waters and various shades of blue to the fishing boats dotted around the lake, and the local children playing on the beach on a quiet Sunday afternoon. On very clear days, Tanzania is visible in the distance.

Coming in to land on Likoma Island, with views of Mozambique in the distance © Robyn Frick

Coming in to land on Likoma Island, with views of Mozambique in the distance © Robyn Frick

At the Likoma Aerodome, we were met by Paul and John from Nkwichi who very kindly guided us through immigration and a short walk down to Vuma, the boat which would take us to the lodge – only after we had done a little “cheers” with our pilot for getting us there in one piece.

Settled into our spots on the boat, Paul offered us drinks followed by rain jackets. We laughed and asked if the jackets would really be necessary. Well, David Livingstone didn’t rename Lake Malawi the Lake of Storms for nothing. As we made our way out of the bay, we got pummelled by the spray of the water coming off the lake, as the boat twisted and turned in the swells and rough water. By the time we arrived in Cobue, where we made a 15 minute stop for immigration (if you fly in from Malawi, this stop forms part of your trip to and from Nkwichi as the lodge is based in Mozambique) we were drenched from head to toe.

 Welcome to Likoma Areodome © Robyn Frick

Welcome to Likoma Areodome © Robyn Frick

Vuma, Nkwichi’s boat that transfers you to the lodge from Likoma Island or Cobue, depending on where you’re travelling from © Robyn Frick

Vuma, Nkwichi’s boat that transfers you to the lodge from Likoma Island or Cobue, depending on where you’re travelling from © Robyn Frick

 Short stop in Cobue to go through Mozambican immigration © Robyn Frick

Short stop in Cobue to go through Mozambican immigration © Robyn Frick

The water was too rough to continue on the last stretch of the boat trip so John, the “boatman” as he calls himself, pulled into a small bay at the Mala village where we were greeted by Francis from guest services and then guided on the 40 minute walk through the wilderness, to the lodge.

 Final stop at the Mala Village © Robyn Frick

Final stop at the Mala Village © Robyn Frick

The sun starting to set on the walk through the wilderness to Nkwichi © Robyn Frick

The sun starting to set on the walk through the wilderness to Nkwichi © Robyn Frick

Finally at Nkwichi, in front of the bonfire with dry clothes on and a G&T in hand, taking in the smell of the Cassava trees and the sun starting to set over the horizon, the adventure of travelling to Nkwichi Lodge was worth every minute.

 G&T’s by the bonfire on the beach © Robyn Frick

G&T’s by the bonfire on the beach © Robyn Frick

Sunset in the wilderness © Robyn Frick

Sunset in the wilderness © Robyn Frick


For more stories from Nkwichi click here: Brighter days on the lake of stars.



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