Our first stay on Lake Malawi, was at “Chintheche Inn”:http://cawsmw.com/index.php/lodges/chintheche-inn/, a 10-roomed place, run by Central African Wilderness Safaris, the company we’d arranged our trip with.
We were welcomed with refreshing iced tea laced with ginger and told that as we were the only guests, we’d been allocated the two-bedroom family room – number 1.
Our large double bed had an easy to enter/exit mosquito net, coil and spray although the mosquitoes fortunately failed to appear. The room was well equipped with a flask of drinking water and tea and coffee making facilities. There was enough hanging space for a couple of nights and a desk and chair. We also found a small safe, a first, but by now we’d got used to locking valuables in suitcases. As usual, there was no hairdryer.
The bathroom had a shower and the solar heated water was hot, although they’d recently installed an electric back up system. This was slightly ironic when there was a major power outage the following day.
The whole resort was beautifully decorated and made full use of wall paintings of African scenes, local weavings, carvings, sculptures and plants in old dug-out canoes.
During our first night, we found our loo wouldn’t flush fully. The diagnosis the next morning, was tree roots in the pipes (a first for us), so the staff helpfully and efficiently moved us to room number 3. Unfortunately, we had further plumbing problems with a poor supply of water, so were given the keys to the adjoining number 2 as a back-up.
The rooms were in a line and right on the beach, said to be one of the best on Lake Malawi, and it was easy to see why as shiny, diamond-like particles glistened in the sun. Although there were a few rocks, we found it easy to avoid them and we enjoyed dipping in the clear, warmish water of Lake Malawi which was bilharzia free (it is tested every six months). Our small patio facing the sea, had two traditional deck chairs – despite being in my late fifties, I’ve still not mastered the art of getting gracefully out of them.
There were four thatched umbrellas on the beach with a couple of beds under each, but they were well spaced. Although the beach is private, the hotel allows locals to use the water’s edge as a short cut to avoid a long walk around by road. Early one morning, I met a young local man and we got into conversation. When he heard I was from London, he said, ‘the home of the British Broadcasting Corporation’ and named programmes he listened to on the World Service to improve his English.
As well as the beach, there was a large grassy area with comfortable chairs and low coffee tables. The fabulous variety of trees provided natural shade and it was ideal for drinks out of the sun. There was also a small swimming pool which we never used.
The reception (with wifi), bar and restaurant were all reached by a covered walkway which unfortunately had polished floors and raffia mats and it was here, I took a huge tumble.
Breakfast was a splendid affair with self-service selection of fruit, cereal (including home-made muesli), banana bread, juice and tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Cooked to order was a choice of pork and beef sausage, bacon, mushroom, tomato, baked beans and eggs.
Our pre-ordered dinners were served in the semi open-air dining room to the sounds of the lapping waves. Meals varied in quality, with some evenings better than others. A highlight was Kampung fish in a Mexican sauce, whilst a disappointment was a large, bland vegetarian pasta dish which needed a dose of hot Malawi sauce.
This was one of the rare places we successfully paid our bar bill by credit card as most places either don’t accept them or signals are very poor.
Post-script – having hobbled slightly for the rest of my trip and a week after I returned, I eventually had an x-ray and discovered a fractured fibula!