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!
Kayak Africa Receives an Award from Malawi’s Ministry of Tourism
We at Kayak Africa are very excited to have received an award from Malawi's Ministry of Tourism for our "priceless contribution towards the promotion of Malawi as a vibrant tourism destination" in the Destination Marketing category. It is lovely to be recognised in our own country for our achievements.
Mumbo One of Top 50 Sustainable Lodges in Africa
Mumbo was 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 Mumbo Island Camp one of the Top 50 in Southern Africa in terms of our sustainable practices.
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!”
Spotted-necked Otters seen again on Mumbo!
We are thrilled to report that our lovable local otters, who seemed to disappear for a year (or at least lie low) are regularly to be seen again in Mumbo’s bay. The otters are the Spotted-necked Otters. They feed on fish, snails and small crustaceans and are usually only to be seen at dawn and dusk. Their numbers are in decline in Africa due to loss of their native habitat, so we are very glad to see that they are still safely living on Mumbo Island. We were fortunate that one of our guests had her camera handy to take this great shot.
Mumbo turns Greener!
We are already green in our ethos, but in December, nature lends a hand! Malawi has one rainy season a year, and this begins around the beginning of December with some spectacular thunder storms. And as soon as we have had a few good rains, Mumbo erupts into a lush, green tropical forest, with all sorts of lilies and bulbs suddenly bursting into bloom: this is a wonderful time to visit Malawi!
Massage and Pilates Retreats on Mumbo with Renee.
When one of Kayak Africa’s directors, Jurie Schoeman hooked up with his now-wife Renee Watson, both our guests and tourists on the mainland benefited from her renowned skills as a Pilates instructor and a therapeutic masseuse. In 2010, Renee took the plunge and re-located to Chembe Village in Malawi from Cape Town. She had many people remark that it was a brave thing to do, but to her it felt completely like the right thing.
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.
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.
Spring Romance on Mumbo!
In the last month we have had two spontaneous engagements on Mumbo - both at sunset on Pod Rock. The first couple were from the UK and were so blown away by the beauty of Mumbo that while watching the sunset they decided they just had to get engaged. Another couple from South Africa found themselves in same situation a few weeks later with the same result! Their quote in the comment book reads: “Heaven is a place on earth: never in our wildest dreams had we imagined such an amazing, magical paradise as this!” These are just two of many proposals we have had on Mumbo – something about the heart-shaped island working its magic?
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.
Local School Children Visit Mumbo as reward for exam results
Twenty four students and six teachers from Cape Maclear Primary School enjoyed a day trip to Mumbo Island in September this yeat.
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.
Reed bungalows replace three tenst!
We are very excited to have begun the process of slowly replacing our walk-in tents with lovely reed bungalows built onto the existing thatched decks. Our carpenters and reed builders have become experts in this building technique and the first three bungalows on the decks of Tent 1,4 and 5 are complete and looking fab! They have open window frames with reed blinds, wooden shutters on the large back window and a billowing mosquito net enclosing the beds and bedside tables. Just lovely!
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
Past Guests Make Wonderful Donation to Local 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 Mr Vision in Cape Maclear. Mr 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.
Local School Children Enjoy a Visit to Domwe Island
Kayak Africa has been offering educational (and adventurous) trips to Mumbo and Domwe Islands to local Cape Maclear 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. These visits happen when we have a day when the islands are sans guests - increasingly rare on Mumbo, so this month's visit was to Domwe Island.
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.)
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!
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?
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.
Staff Achievements and Qualifications
We are very pleased to announce that our General Manager, 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.
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.
Yoga and Pilates Deck on Mumbo
The latest addition to the island infrastructure is a thatch and wood deck, set in a private area of miombo woodland forest behind the camp. Here Renee Watson, a well known pilates master trainer from Cape Town who has moved to Cape Maclear, runs yearly specialised pilates retreats for anyone interested. These have been a great success.
The deck is otherwise simply a lovely secluded spot to which guests can retreat to bird watch, do some yoga or simply enjoy a quiet moment in the forest.
Mumbo Guest Activities!
The last week on Mumbo has been a week of opposites: the first guests to arrive were two families of very active South African guests, who really made the most of the activities offered on Mumbo notching up a record number of twenty dives in three days!
Clean up of Lungudzi Cove, Mumbo Island on 10/10/10
On the 10/10/10, 350.org, a worldwide campaign against climate change, launched their Global Work Party. 7347 events in 188 countries were logged on their website, one of these being a clean-up of Lungudzi Cove on Mumbo Island. Although Mumbo is within the National Park and no fishing is allowed within 100m of the shore, fishermen sometimes use the cove as a useful, sheltered place to pull in to repair nets and make dinner. Sadly, they often leave a mess behind them when they leave, and although our guide paddles around the island every morning and cleans up whatever litter he finds, sometimes Lungudzi is less than pristine. So for the Global Work Party, our staff and the only two guests on the island that afternoon, a delightful French couple who were keen to join the party, hiked to this little bay and picked up every tiny piece of rubbish they could find. All rubbish is removed from the island by boat and taken back to the mainland to recycle or burn. As a well earned reward, Finias, our chef, served everyone his famous cinnamon buns. Even on a tiny island in the middle of a lake in the middle of Africa, we felt part of this great global initiative.
UK School groups and a Great 30th Birthday party on Domwe Island
Mumbo Island's sister island, Domwe, is run as a self-catering "adventure camp" and this makes it perfect for groups to hire the whole island.
Domwe Island has recently been inundated with visiting groups of scholars from the UK lately. The groups book out the whole island, the teachers using the safari tents and the scholars in dome tents which the island staff set up on the rest of the sites and on the beach. Many of the schools choose to paddle out to the island – the first time most of these kids have ever been in a kayak. From all accounts, this visit to a deserted African island is a real highlight of the scholars’ tour of Malawi! In the words of a student from Penicuik High School: “I think it would be fair to describe it as a typical paradise island.”
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.
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!
Abi swims from Mumbo to Cape Maclear and back!
On the 1st of May 2010, Abi Brown attempted to swim the 25km across Lake Malawi at the narrowest point, the bottleneck between the remote shore of Cape Ngobo and the popular tourist beach of Senga Bay. She was the first woman to attempt the challenge.
Kayak Africa sponsored Abi by providing free accommodation on the islands for her training swims and a guide to accompany and support her.
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!
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,
Mysterious Sand Eel Spotted on Mumbo Island
Our dive instructor, Rob Assad, recently spotted a rare Sand Eel on a dive with guests on Mumbo. This is what he had to say: “I have tried researching info on these eels and there seems to be nothing out there. When I moved to Cape Maclear in 2000 we used to see the fishermen bringing them in a few times a week. I bought one off a fisherman for a new Years braai in 2001 that measured 1.6m. Over the years we hardly ever saw any. I did a night dive on the wreck and found a 1.5m one lying on the roof in 2008 and then haven't seen one since the one on Mumbo last month. It was a beauty; also just over a meter long and free swimming over the rocks. It was thicker than a man's arm and had off-yellow leopard-like markings. I know they have no teeth , are usually only found in deep water and are mostly nocturnal.”
Anyone know anything else about these eels? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
New Dive Boat for Frogman Divers
We are very proud of our new dive boat which Kayak Africa’s carpenters have finished building. They worked on it for over a month, doing all the wood work under the huge fig tree on the beach. It is the first boat in Cape Maclear to also have a fibreglass coating over the wood and must be the only boat in the village to have not a single leak! It will be named “The Frog” and will be used by our dive school, Frogman Divers.