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Blog: The Real Thing


May 2011

The Real Thing

Posted by / in Africa /

Occasionally, rarely, you come across a place that stops you in your tracks and leaves a hint of a smile on your chops. These hidden gems tend to be off the beaten track, tricky to get to and even trickier to learn about in the first place. Privacy, these days, is the new luxury commodity. Anyone can do plush soft furnishings and good service, but a stunning location coupled with privacy, that’s the real nub of the matter; that’s what’s hard to find and even harder to preserve.

I used to know Malawi pretty well but haven’t been there for some years, so it makes perfect sense that my latest trip to rediscover Malawi should end up on the shores of Lake Malawi but actually within the territorial boundary of Mozambique! I had heard about a top-draw little lodge with just 8 cottages that the grapevine told me it was impressed with. This lodge has no road access: you can fly to one of two airstrips that are close-ish, but then it’s either of long, long walk or an hour in a motorboat to reach the lodge itself. Intriguing!

Remote? Yes. No-phone zone? Definitely. Electricity? No. Absolute barefoot luxury? Oh yes! You come to a place like this to forget about all your toys. Slow right down, let your shoulders drop and settle into the local pace. And the local pace redefines “relax”. It’s really strange, but the first day you’re a tad frustrated and want to shake someone and yell “get on with it!”. Day two and you begin to get the point and on the morning of day three the penny has dropped and you realise why you made all that effort. This lodge is so well designed that you can’t see or hear your neighbours. Even the bathrooms are al fresco, with just the one wall and no roof and even a stuck-in-the-mud pilgrim like me becomes a bit of a naturist by day three. The place is put together with such craft that you feel you’re the only ones there. There really is no-one to disturb you except for the odd low-flying egret.

The nights were my favourite time: dinner on the beach with the other guests (if that takes your fancy) and then you’re gently set adrift. There are some decks cunningly concealed amongst the huge granite boulders that surround the lake and from where you can not see an electric light – anywhere! Zero light pollution! Stunning silence! The gentlest of breezes. And all wrapped up in an African night that’s black-cat dark and as soft as velvet. The star-scape has to be seen to be believed: the tropical sky is always so excitingly different from home but when conditions are perfect, this is the most romantic, erotic of settings. Our cottage was lit with a couple of dim oil-lamps and in this half-light a nightjar, on silent wings, flew in through one of the non-existent walls and out through the opposite one. How it sensed the voluminous mosi-net was there, and avoided it, I will never know. Pure magic!

This is Nkwichi, which is an onomatopoeia from the local language and is the sound barefeet make walking across the talcum-powder-soft sand.

This is a dangerous place: whoever you take with you, you are liable to fall in love with them!

More info / to book:

Note: VentureCo do not charge a fee to arrange safaris in Africa. We are paid a commission from the lodges and safari outfitters with whom we work. We can generally obtain better trade rates for you than those available to members of the public.

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