Kumbali Lake Retreat – A breath of fresh air in the warm heart of Africa

Kumbali Lake Retreat

A breath of fresh air in the warm heart of Africa

It’s fair to say that, by just about anyone’s standards, I travel a lot.
Some of it is for work and some of it is for pleasure. Actually that is misleading. I love Africa and that is where my work takes me, so really all my travel is pretty much for pleasure.
Over the years I have built up a list of the places I like to stay in half a dozen countries and these tend to be the places I go back to time after time. These are also the places that I recommend to clients.

I’m always on the lookout for new places though and it is exciting for me to visit places I’ve never been before. Especially if they turn out to be somewhere that I can add to my list.

When an assignment in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley finished a couple of days early I had some time on my hands and thought it might be worth taking a look at a small lodge on the shore of Lake Malawi.

What with one thing and another, mostly the power outages that seem plague Lilongwe, I was delayed and would not be able to get to the lake in time for the shuttle boat to the island. I needed an alternative.

Amelia – that’s Amelia Sprong at Land & Lake Safaris in Lilongwe – suggested that Kumbali Lake Retreat might be a good choice.

How right she was.

It took me a couple of hours to drive from Lilongwe to Salima where I turned north for the last twenty kilometres or so to the lodge.

I had no idea what to expect but Kumbali Lake Retreat was certainly not at all what I’d imagined.

Kumbali Lake Retreat is a eco lodge, built into the side of Lifuwu Hill and on the shore of Lake Malawi. There are 4 individually thatched chalets each with private bathroom facilities, private veranda overlooking the lake and double or twin beds.

There’s a charming restaurant & bar where all meals are served and a small sandy beach.

The food was absolutely wonderful, fresh, tasty and inventive. Even more impressive when you see the simple kitchen it is prepared in.

It’s a place where relaxing comes naturally. The phone signal is patchy at best and there is no internet, so those distractions can be set aside for the duration of your stay.

You won’t be bored though. There’s great hiking, kayaks for you to explore the lake and boat trips on the lake.

As well as prolific bird life you might catch sight of the indigenous Samanga Monkey.

This is my kind of place and I can’t wait to go back again. I don’t mind if it’s with friends or with clients, as long as it is soon.


  1. Hi Martin

    What a wonderful review for our property Kumbali Lake Retreat! So happy you enjoyed being in our special retreat. Thank you.

    Your photographs are amazing, especially the one of the Samango – he is beautiful!

    My husband Guy and I are working on a project to try and save Lifuwu Hill. It is home to so many animals and birds and slowly the trees are being cut for fuel. We hope that we are able to accomplish this and we look forward to another visit from you.

    Although internet not there (we are working on a solution), it is amazing how relaxed one is once leaving and not being bombarded by constant emails etc.

    We hope to meet you personally when you visit again.

    With kind regards

    Maureen Pickering

    1. Maureen,
      I know that I am not typical, but I would far rather have no internet than a poor connection that leaves everyone frustrated. Being an old fart I find it quite depressing to see guests at camps and lodges across Africa all huddled over their phones and computers; we used to sit around the campfire exchanging stories.

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