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“Rats” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Big Blue Backpackers

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Big Blue Backpackers
Nkhata Bay Town Center | PO Box 110, Nkhata Bay, Malawi   |  
Hotel amenities
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Rats”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2014

Avoid, avoid, avoid!! Aside from being very expensive for Malawi - yes it is cheaper than the most popular Backpackers spot in Nkhata Bay but their biggest dorms have 8 beds not 16 and there are cheaper Backpackers than both of these places. This place is horrendous.

I had been warned not to stay here but as it was only for one night and close to the ferry terminal I thought I would give it a go anyway. The place is in a general state of disrepair but again as it was only for one night I thought it would be OK. However what I hadn't expected was rats in the room. When I spoke to the Manager, she swung from telling me she understood why I wasn't very happy about this to being verbally abusive "this is Africa what do you white people expect, you come here because you want somewhere pretty with nice water but this is what you get; rats just run around they don't bite people" to "sorry I am a bit drunk, you have lovely eyes". Clearly she has never heard of rat bite fever. As for this is Africa, I've been in Africa for three months, it isn't my first time here and what I expect is somewhere decent to sleep without rodents. Add to this experience loud music, rooms that don't lock properly and fighting dogs. I suggest you stay somewhere else. I was the first person to check in here for 9 days which in a busy Backpacker town says everything about this place. There are alternatives, the walk up the hill to Butterfly Space or even Mayoka (if you like that sort of place) is worth it.

Stayed May 2014, traveled solo
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gwympanzee, Manager at Big Blue Backpackers, responded to this review, May 19, 2014
I find this review truly baffling, if you are going to abuse us please tell the whole story! First the large dorm is 16 beds some of the beds had been removed while we repaired the roof, the dogs are playing no one has ever had a problem with this, claiming the manager (owner) was abusive is simply untrue (by the way I am her husband and white). We gave you a bed in the small dorm you claimed you had seen a rat (we regularly lay traps to avoid this we wouldn't be allowed to operate if we had rats, our last government inspection was only two weeks ago) so we moved you to another room which you had no complaints about as far as we were aware! But most bizarre is you claim to know how many guests we had in the previous 9 days?!? I can only apologise that you didn't enjoy your stay, there is a complaints/suggestion box if you were this angry
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47 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    17
    11
    13
    4
    2
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Families
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Business
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (8)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Nkhata Bay, Malawi
2 reviews
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2014

Although the staff were extremely friendly, there wasn't much of an atmosphere here and it feels in a state of disrepair. It is very cheap for a dorm bed so on a strict budget it's fine but there are a lot of holes in mosquito net, the bar is half don't and the "chill out area" doesn't seem to exist any more. Shame. I hope things improve for this cute little place

  • Stayed May 2014
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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gwympanzee, Manager at Big Blue Backpackers, responded to this review, May 19, 2014
Hi, firstly sorry you didn't fully enjoy your stay, we understand the place isn't looking it's best at the moment, nkhata bay was hit by bad storms recently the bar and some of the cabins were badly damaged so we repaired all the major problems, but as lots of people lost homes we donated all our building materials to help, as soon as materials become available again we will restart the renovations but this is Malawi things move slowly
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Hong Kong, China
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
84 helpful votes 84 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2014

I ended up in Nkhata Bay without knowing that if was the Easter weekend, most of the highly rated backpacker places (Mayoka) were already fully booked. I ended staying in Big Blue Backpackers right on the hill on the main Mzuzu road 300m before the village center.

Location is great for eating in the village or diving with Aqua Africa. The wifi worked well when the village had electricity. The hut (tree hut) leaked a bit through a night of heavy rain, it didn't leak on the bed but watch out where you place your luggage. The hut also smelled a bit moldy but the lake view from the slope was great. To be fair the place seems to be ongoing a major face lift when I was there (April 2014) and might get better and better. While I didn't eat there myself for the high prices compared to local village options the food looked good.

Expect:
Budget price (2500 for dorm around 6$, 3000 upwards for your on room April 2014)
Good location

Don't expect:
Anything more than very basic facilities

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2014

A better location for access to the town centre. Food is ok but a bit pricey for what you get. Rooms are reasonable but quite run-down. There is a lack of management although the staff and owners try to be helpful. It’s right on the lake and has a cool bar but this place is always very quiet. When internet is working it’s pretty good and free.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Pittsfield, New Hampshire
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2014 via mobile

Got to stay in one of the new built rooms, very comfy and amazing unobstructed views of the lake all for a price I felt was really cheap. The staff were lovely and bent over backwards to help out with any of your needs. Hot showers and free wi fi were a plus, would have paid to wake to the sunrise views alone!!

I can't recommend this place enough. It is one of the nice places to stay.

Stayed February 2014, traveled solo
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dublin, Ireland
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
66 helpful votes 66 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 1, 2014

This place is great for a cheap stay in the bay. If you are staying a few days you can negotiate a discount. They do have a visa facility but like most places it charges 5% extra! Some of the chalets are nicer than others so it's worth checking a few out. They are currently building new ones that are if a much higher standard which will be ready soon. Unfortunately during our stay our electricity was intermittent in our room. The wifi is free and is good if no one is on it and you can always find a time for that. The showers are cold and the guys bathroom smells a bit strongly but is fine. The toilets are a long walk from the chalets too if you need them in the middle of the night! The food is definitely the highlight (the lasagne is best), although a lot of the tastier looking items were unavailable, it's much more expensive than in the local places, but the chef is very good, the hash browns for breakfast are also a good choice. All and all a good backpackers, it could use an injection of cash to make it a very good place, but it is a nice friendly place to stay, with great food and great views.

Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gwympanzee, Manager at Big Blue Backpackers, responded to this review, February 5, 2014
Hi, thanks for coming to stay and for the review, we appreciate reviews like this, we only took over ownership last year so renovations are under way the toilets are scheduled to be updated in the very near future, sorry about that, come back in six months and I promise you wont recognise the place :). Safe travels
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Dublin, Ireland
Top Contributor
294 reviews 294 reviews
78 hotel reviews
Reviews in 88 cities Reviews in 88 cities
217 helpful votes 217 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2013

I stayed here for two nights. The first night I was staying in Bob's Room, which was really small, you could barely get in the door because the bed practically filled the entire room. But the second day I changed to The Cast Away Cabin, and it was worlds better than the other room. It was nicely decorated and the balcony was right over the water.
The toilets were very dirty and there was never any toilet paper. The showers and sink were also really dirty.
If you're on a tight budget this place is fine and it's very handy for the ferry.

Room Tip: Don't stay in Bob's room, it's really small. Cast Away cabin is nice
See more room tips
  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Big Blue Backpackers

Address: Nkhata Bay Town Center | PO Box 110, Nkhata Bay, Malawi
Location: Malawi > Northern Region > Nkhata Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Nkhata Bay
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Big Blue is two minutes walk from the little fishing village of Nkhata Bay which has a busy daily market where you can experience the buzz of a busy Malawian life. The village also has every thing a backpacker may need including a bank, clinic, post office, small supermarket and immigration. There's a vibrant night life for the brave party animals, those not to keen on a party can relax on the Big Blue veranda and watch the night fishermen while enjoying a lovely home cooked meal. All food is made freshly from organic locally grown produce. Recently re-opened under new management, look out for big changes in the coming months, and why not check out our new website bigbluebackpackers ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Big Blue Backpackers Malawi/Nkhata Bay

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