Johnie does Malawi – Part 8

By Johnie Jonker

Day 14 – 16: Domwe Island

Prior to setting off on our Fish Eagle Island trip the previous day, we also visited the premises of Kayak Africa to confirm that our prepaid departure for Domwe was still as arranged. We decided to visit that island based on idyllic pictures and articles in SA outdoor magazines, and also because the water was safe. It gets tested regularly, and it was reported to us that earlier in the same month the results were still negative for Bilharzia.

Kayak Africa runs the Mumbo and Domwe island accommodation. The main difference between the two islands other than the size and distance from the mainland, is that Mumbo – the smaller, further one – is fully catered with 3 meals, where Domwe is accommodation only.

There is therefore a distinct price difference between the two, e.g. as special offer at Mumbo: R1200 per adult per night, R600 per child per night (no matter the age of the child). This is fully inclusive (all meals) with kayaks & snorkelling gear.

At Domwe, you can camp on a wooden deck for R150 p/p,

or stay in a safari tent for R400 p/p. But then you have to rent a kayak, rent/take your own tent, bedding, mattress, snorkel gear etc, and provide your own food. For our group of 12 people who wanted to rough it a bit and had all the camping and diving gear, this was preferable.

All bookings for island accommodation are done via KA’s Cape Town office, with a very helpful Bee keeping you up to date with all the options available – .

Initially we would have had to split our group into children/adults on two consecutive nights, as not all of us could be accommodated at the same time, due to other people also being on the island. But after a discussion with Clive, a concession was made that all of us could go simultaneously. So now we all had two nights on the island.

So the next morning at 10, we parked our vehicles in the safe parking area of Kayak Africa and started transferring our luggage to the jetty. The mind boggled to see how much stuff was going, but fortunately there was space for it all on the boat.

We handed in our laundry to be done in our absence, and also arranged for our by now very dirty cars to be washed.

Many willing hands transferred our stuff to the boat – which was named FEERSUM ENDJINN – while we were living it up in the lounge on the jetty, being served free tea.

Departure Lounge

After a 5km boat ride we arrived at our destination – the ONLY piece of sand along the entire Domwe island coastline.


6 Double kayaks had been arranged, transported to the island on the roof of the ferry, and Armas and myself rowed around the island later that afternoon. This is a distance of just over 11kms, and was completed in just under 2 hours – although I must add, it was a perfect day with no wind.

An ice box was provided on the dining deck stocked with cooldrink – coke, fanta, tonic – and beer, but we could take our own and substitute our warm ones for cold ones. When our own ran out, each family opened a tab, which was settled back on the mainland.

On the second day we already started suffering from advanced withdrawal symptoms at the thought of having to leave the next day, so we requested per radio to the mainland whether we could stay a 3rd night, by shortening one of our onward destinations by a day. Permission was granted.

The nice thing about Kayak Africa – and as far as our trip was concerned, unique throughout the whole of Malawi – is that you could pay by credit card. So upon our return to the mainland, all the extras were added up and we simply settled the difference.

Some of the boys decided they were going to fish, even though we could buy off the local fishermen’s boats that rowed past the island – Capenta, Tigerfish and Chambo. After 3 ½ hours on the water they returned with one smallish catfish. This was duly prepared by the local personnel of three, and everyone had a small piece to taste. Not unlike fish fingers.

Returning  just after sunset

We had access to the gas-driven kitchen, so could make our own food, but decided to rather use the personnel to do this. Each family decided that this was worth a gratuity of R100/family/day.

A shower was provided on request, which consisted of a bucket with shower rose and tap attached at the bottom, hoisted into a tree by our attendant after filling it up with water boiled in the kitchen and suitably quenched with lake-water-on-tap. This all inside a reed labyrinth, so you could admire the hill while showering.

The rest of the time we lazed about, playing the Malawian game of BAO, draughts – provided – and a number of card games – always from our viewpoint of the dining deck, with a view over the lake.

Uhm… have I mentioned the Malawian sunsets?

We returned the morning of the 4th day

to clean laundry and cars, crammed the lot in and were off, popping into Monkey Bay just for a look-see. It is quite a cosy harbour, but other than that, nothing special.

Due to being pressed for time, we did not go down to Mufasa Backpackers’ private beach, but hopefully some time in the future we will experience that privilege.

From here we headed for Zomba, where we were to overnight that evening, hopefully on top of the plateau.

In summary, other than the cost of the drinks we took along and the extras like the voluntary gratuity for cooking, laundry and car wash, the total bill was R11000 for 3 nights. For 12 adults – even though they are referred to as children in this text, they are all students – this comes to just over R300 p/p per day. This includes the boat transfer, kayak rental and safe parking of our vehicles while on the island.

Considering the experience, you can’t steal it for the price.

 Part 9 to follow


Your email is never shared.
Required fields are marked *