A castaway holiday on Domwe Island in Malawi

Posted by Kate Goss on 7 February 2011

Just a stone’s throw from the Malawian mainland, Domwe Island is a remote retreat with mountain views, secluded beach alcoves and dense indigenous bush. Those seeking a Lake Malawi experience away from the mainland’s crowded fishing villages and rowdy tourist jaunts will find this island’s uncultivated beauty exceptionally refreshing.

The island’s camp is nestled on a quiet crescent beach, with rustic wooden decks beneath the trees, and huge granite boulders framing an uninhabited view of the lake. Campers can pitch their own tents on the two thatch-roofed camping decks, or have the option of staying in three furnished (with en-suite bathroom) safari tents, each nestled in their own private corner of island foliage. For those who have pitched their own tents, there is a clean, eco-friendly toilet and a rustic outside shower, supplied with buckets of piping hot water by the camp’s delightful local staff.

As the camp is run on a self-catering basis, there is a quirky camp kitchen with a gas stove and oven, as well as any utensils and cookware you should need. And perched just above the water’s edge is a low-key, atmospheric bar and dining area for meals, card games and taking it easy in the afternoon.

The peacefulness of Domwe’s castaway-style dwelling makes relaxing on the main deck with a G&T or getting horizontal with a beach-read seem like a very appealing option. However, most travellers who have made the mission to this beautiful outdoor hideaway have other plans up their sleeves. With Domwe being the largest unpopulated island in Lake Malawi, there are many hours to be spent discovering the island’s 11 kilometres of private and pristine scenery.

Explorers can tackle a rather-steep forest hike to the island’s highest point (400m above lake level), where a picnic on the flat rocks high above the lake’s vast expanse is undoubtedly worth the walk. Alternatively, water lovers can circumnavigate the island on kayaks (these can be hired from Kayak Africa at Cape Maclear on the mainland).

As Domwe is situated within the Lake Malawi National Park, a marine reserve and World Heritage Site, the submerged boulders that stretch along the island’s perimeter are teeming with innumerable species of fish. A snorkel along the edge of the island in the lake’s beautifully transparent and calm freshwater is highly recommended. Or for those wanting to explore the deeper wonders of the lake, Domwe is a PADI registered resort for scuba diving and offers courses and expeditions for most levels as well as gear hire.

Unlike most of the other islands in Lake Malawi, Domwe is home to a number of mammals (many of which tend to hang around the campsite when they catch the scent of a hearty dinner being prepared). This odd assortment of creatures made its way onto the island when fluctuations in the lake’s level caused the narrow Llala Gap that separates Domwe from the mainland to dry up. Now, the island’s resident civets, bushpigs, samango monkeys and chacma baboons are all a rich part of the bountiful, untamed and truly beautiful landscape that is Domwe.

To experience Domwe Island, contact:

Kayak Africa
Tel: +27 21 783 1955
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.kayakafrica.net