Kumbali Lake Retreat is an eco-friendly lodge, nestled into the side of the Lifuwu Hill and overlooks the shores of Senga Bay on Lake Malawi. Although the location is not as scenic as some parts of the Lake it is a wonderful spot to relax and unwind, offering a private, rustic and homely feel. If you are looking for a trip away from the rest of the world (yes, no Wi-Fi or signal around) settle into the comforts at Kumbali Lake retreat and enjoy what mother nature has on offer. Take a fishing rod and a pair of binos (they have a stargazer too) and get back to your own wilderness.
The staff were extremely welcoming, friendly and accommodating, nothing was too big or too small. They are dedicated to going that extra mile for you and we were always greeted with the biggest smiles and the friendliest manner.
There are 5 thatched chalets, each with its own private bathrooms, hot water and a private balcony to enjoy a relaxed morning coffee or afternoon beer all whilst looking out onto the lake and its surroundings.
Let’s talk about an exciting highlight, the food – delicious! Jes, the daughter of the owner, General Manager for the Kumabli properties and world trained chef extraordinaire, has brought this place to an outstanding level. Each meal was as tasty as the next, and it was great to learn that with her background as a Chef she is all about quality and creating wonderful meals. From homegrown veggies, to locally sourced meats the kitchen creates a variety of dishes to please all guests and their dietary needs. As a Brit, my highlight was a Malawian take on fish and chips…ok, Chambo is very similar to cod but it was a comforting hit from home, fresh from the lake.
For the wildlife lovers you can enjoy guided hikes up the hill, kayaking (in calmer weather), snorkelling and the ever so popular ‘sundowner boat trip’ where you can feed the fish eagles; another highlight. If you are ready with your camera you will get some pretty special photos of the Eagles soaring near the boat catching the fish off the water.
For the less adventurous, if you wish to relax and enjoy that all-important downtime, there is a private beach, with comfy sun-lounges. If you find yourself settling into one of the hammocks, I would prepare to arrange for the barman to deliver drinks to you for the afternoon, you won’t want to be moving too far…heavenly.
We ended the day sitting on the balcony of the newly built ‘Honeymoon suite’, enjoying a late afternoon drink and watching the incredible birdlife just metres from us. To top it off we even got a little show from an outgoing and playful young otter, enjoying his Saturday afternoon around in the reeds and water – spectacular.
If you are passing through Lilongwe, one of the top places to stay in the capital is Kumbali Country Lodge. The first of the Kumbali brand and sister to the Lake Retreat. Situated in a forest reserve and dairy farm and located only a 10-minute drive from the City Centre you get a sense of remoteness with the beautiful surrounding woodland completely forgetting you are in Malawi’s capital city.
There are 16 individual rooms, each with a large double bed, en suite bathroom and your own balcony looking out onto the well-kept gardens. The rooms include a TV, mosquito nets, ceiling and floor fans, indoor and outdoor seating areas and room service is available for a romantic or quiet night in. If you are there for business or pleasure the Lodge offers Wi-Fi which is accessible within the rooms and communal areas.
Just like the menu at Kumbali Lake Retreat the food at the Country Lodge is exceptional, the menu is designed by the very talented Jes who has been working with her parents over the last 6 years to guarantee the smooth running of the restaurant, kitchen and newly refurbed conference centre. Jes has brought her years of expertise to both the Lodge and Retreat. She involves herself in the training of all staff to ensure a high level of service is met and guaranteeing the smooth execution of events and conferences that are run on a weekly basis. Don’t take our word for it but I have heard that Kumbali is a firm favourite with the Lilongwe Locals; catch a date night or celebration in action as the city head to their favourite restaurant for reliable service and tasty meals. From Malawi inspired dishes to Eastern influences it is clear Jes’ extensive training and travels have infused the menu into something special.
Kumbali Country Lodge has an incredibly relaxed homely feel to it and is the perfect stopover before or after seeing the other gorgeous destinations Malawi has to offer. You even have full access to the farm and are encouraged to wander around the beautiful gardens, or head out on a walk (not guided) to see the rest of the property. The staff are always around to help with anything you need, from the names of the baby goats, sampling their homemade feta, to that all essential gin and tonic delivered to you by the pool. The staff are treated like family and in turn, you are met like the long-lost cousin returning from your travels.
Kumbali ingrains itself into your heart, add both or either property to your itineraries when visiting Malawi…you won’t be disappointed.