In the ancient mountains of Lake Niassa (Lake Malawi), in the north-western corner of Mozambique lies Nkwichi Lodge. Offering five chalets hand-built and sculptured from primordial boulders, it comes complete with a rock pool, outdoor baths, tree-hanging showers, and hand-crafted, natural furniture. It also has a private house a short distance from the lodge, as well as a romantic honeymoon retreat on offer.
Nkwichi Lodge offers numerous activities and the opportunity to explore the wilderness on foot, with snorkel gear or by dug-out canoe.
Nkwichi Lodge can be reached via flight across Lake Niassa from Malawi, passage on a historic lake steamer, or a drive across the rugged landscape of southern Malawi and northern Mozambique.
Nkwichi Lodge forms an essential part of the Manda Wilderness Project. Established in 1999 the Project provides a connect between protecting one of Africa’s last true wildernesses and a focus on releasing an African community’s true potential.
Working closely with the 20,000 people in this vast area, Nkwichi has helped 15 villages to set up Community Committees through which six schools, a maize mill, and a maternity clinic, have been built. The project has also seen 60km of roads constructed and over 700 farmers receive training in sustainable agriculture.
With assistance from the Swedish Government and the Ford Foundation, a Community Conservation Area of 120,000 hectares has been established in the names of the local communities.
Nkwichi has been recognised as a pioneering eco-tourism establishment and has been awarded many accolades. Aside from the outdoor beach activities a stay at Nkwichi also offer an emmersement into the local community activities such as the annual Manda Wilderness Choir festival.
The annual Choir Festival, held at the colonial-era Cobué Roman Catholic Church is a must for your itinerary if you’re a lover of hymns. The 16 villages surrounding Nkwichi each produce a choir of twenty of their finest voices, who battle it out. The festival is also supported by a choirmaster training run by a volunteer Guest Choir Director.
Its success has now won the generous support of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation for the next five years, perhaps linking the Wilderness to London’s West End.
The lakeside setting makes for an unforgettable evening with a local band provides further entertainment for everyone, including a huge feast under the stars and culminating in a mass choir piece with all village choirs performing in unison.
Another great Manda Wilderness event is the Dug-out Canoe Race. Village teams compete for honours in the annual Dug-out Canoe Race on Lake Niassa, each lakeside village enters two teams who compete for prizes to go towards development in their respective villages.
It’s also a fun way to maintain interaction between the communities and enjoy the clear waters of the lake. The event is sponsored by Gerard van Dijk, a long-time investor at Nkwichi Lodge and strong supporter of the work of the Trust.
The Manda Wilderness Community Trust also has a Football League, an initiative that began within the Manda Wilderness region of northern Mozambique in 2005. This event gives communities another chance to mingle and engage in healthy competitive spirit. It is also one of the rare events where people enjoy leisure time, away from their various daily obligations.
As football is the most popular sport in the region and always attracts a very large and vocal following.
Nkwichi and Manda Wilderness are definitely spots to take a look at for greater insight into both Malawian and Mozambican life.