Jul 10 2013

CAMPING REVIEW: Chintheche Strip

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but we ended up stopping in at almost every campsite down the strip trying to find somewhere we were happy to stay.  Each accommodation spot is about 2-3 km from the main tar road, located on the shores of Lake Malawi, making for a meandering route.

Chintheche Strip is south of Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi.  It is much quieter than Nkhata Bay.

Travelling from north to south, here is a useful summary for other travellers:

Flame Tree Lodge

This is a slight dilapidated spot located right next to the beach.  The showers were very basic with an electric shower head, and toilets at least seemed to flush.  We passed a few chalets on our walk around, but they were completely gutted, with doors missing – apparently in a state of “renovation”.  There may have been a central bar area and restaurant, but we didn’t check.  Given the generally good standard of camping we have had elsewhere in Malawi, this was very disappointing, and even at the low price we weren’t tempted.

Cost: MKW1,500 / $4 per person


Chintheche Inn (Wilderness Safari)

Entrance along a tar road instead of a dirt road set the scene.  The location of a few curio stalls just outside the gate also indicated it being a more popular place.  It was very pretty, with lots of grass for ground tents and 4x4s with roof top tents, most stands overlooking the lake.  We didn’t notice if there was electricity at the campsite.  There were a number of SA registered vehicles, so perhaps electricity was available.  The ablution block was very clean and modern.    There was a central bar area with restaurant and the staff were welcoming and friendly.  There also seemed to be a number of activities, including mountain bike hire and kayak hire – all for a fee.  All in all, it looked a great place – but for a price.

Cost: $10 / MKW 3350 per person


 Sunga Moyo (formerly Nkhwazi)

Although a dirt road to reach it, it opened onto a beautiful green lawn with views of the lake.  There was ample room for camping on the grass, and individual camp stands had a braai facility and many had electricity points (only South African sockets strangely).  The ablutions were clean and tastefully decorated.  The main bar area was inviting and had good views of the lake.  However, it is currently changing ownership.  The new owners are renovating the chalets, which were unavailable when we visited, and the restaurant isn’t up and running yet.  I am sure once the place is fully operational again, it will be worth a visit, but currently we felt it overpriced for the offer.

Cost: $10 / MKW 3350 per person


Makuzi Beach Lodge

**Pick of the bunch **

A slightly longer dirt road in from the tar road, but it opened onto beautiful manicured gardens and a view of the lake in a small sandy cove.  There is a lovely bar area with deck overlooking the lake.  The camping area is grass, and is slightly smaller than other places, but still space for about 7-8 vehicles tucked in cosily.  The camping is on 3 levels, with space for ground tents closer to the beach on the lower level, and vehicles camping higher up.  There is one central electricity point with both Malawi (UK) sockets and South Africa sockets.  There are also a few chalets available of different sizes.  They have a number of activities – kayaking in particular catching our eye.  The staff and managers are friendly and welcoming.  The restaurant served delicious food!  All in all, value for money.

Cost: $5 / MKW 1750 per person


Kande Beach Camp

Last stop on the strip, Kande Beach Camp is accessed through the village of Kande.  It has the feel of a backpackers, and there was a large overland truck parked when we stopped in.  In addition to camping, there are also dorm rooms and chalets.  The camping area is set on sand, and set back from the beach.  There are many activites – from diving to kayaking, boat rides to pedalos – and there is a bar with satellite TV to watch the current sports events.  There is a separate café area, which looked very inviting.  The ablutions were clean, with electric showers.   All in all, it had the feel of a more sociable, vibey place – if that is what you are looking for.

Cost: $5 / MKW 1750 per person


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