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“Serene”
Review of Kaya Mawa

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Kaya Mawa
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Likoma Island
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 16, 2013

OK, so perhaps coming off an at-times-rough 3-day canoe/walking safari might... well, color the amazing luxury and relaxation of Kaya Mawa a bit. The staff is super-helpful and friendly, the food is amazing, and the setting and housing is just perfect.

Room Tip: The rooms vary quite a bit - there are a few further out from the core of the property which offer m...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank joncamfield
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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95 - 101 of 194 reviews

Reviewed November 28, 2013

I am not a beach person at all but if ever there was a beach resort that could change that it is Kaya Mawa. 
It has everything that one could dream off on a relaxing and/or romantic vacation. 
My husband and I arrived here after 3 challenging weeks of travel through Ethiopia and this was just what we needed to lick our wounds and reconnect. We have been traveling together for 30 years and thought we were perfect traveling companions but Ethiopia nearly broke our marriage. 
So it was a double blessing that our last week of vacation was spent in this paradise where everything was beautiful, clean, functional, and everyone was friendly, competent, attentive, but not intrusive. 

The setting itself is out of this world on a secluded blue lake beach amongst majestic baobabs and colorful orange flame trees and pink bougainvilleas. 

Seeing that the day of our arrival was my husband's 65th birthday the manager showed us into an upgraded villa on a promontory facing the lake. Wow, wow, wow! A once in a life time luxury. 

The indoor and outdoor spaces glow together through large terrace doors that we left opened day and night for the cooling breeze.  After putting our passports and wallets into the managers safe we left all our other belongings strewn around without worry after seeing a number of computers, iPads and kindles lying around the reception area (the hub of wifi and library). We would even leave our iPhones in the reception to send out a particularly picture laden email while we would enjoy our meal in the restaurant area on the beach. 

Our villa had a king size bed with white sheets (strewn with pink flowers) and a square mosquito net facing the lake but protected from reverse view by  many trees and colorful bushes. Every morning we were greeted by birds nesting in the greenery and we could enjoy an assortment of shapes and colors from green to orange and red darting around and perching on branches.  (for serious birders there are two powerful binoculars to take along in the library). 

The deck area comprised of the bathroom with two contemporary square sinks, a shower and a bathtub and the loo with the best view.  There was a round plunge pool with two lounge chairs and observation deck with built in benches and a breakfast table. 
Facing west, it gave us spectacular sunsets in the evening and a chance to observe fishermen plying their trade in the morning.

There was only one other guest at the resort that came out on the same small plane with us from Lillongwe and we had a nice time sharing a drink at the bar every night and making some excursions together. 

We couldn't help but climb around other accommodations all set up into the rocky outcrops. Each one is different and interesting in its own way. The architect and interior designer did a wonderful job of blending nature with the structures and decorations. Here is a whimsical deck  shower made out of half of an old wooden fishing boat. There is a fireplace set into a cave off of the living room. The walls are decorated by weathered wooden objects playing with the idea of African mandala game and the in house made lamps of pieces of bottle glass.  When visiting their workshop on the island and chatting with local craftspeople we were on the look out for our champagne bottle. 

I could go on and on about well appointed beach sitting and large swinging platforms but I need to mention the food. No, wait, first I have to mention the service. It might be that we were still under influence of Ethiopia where it was normal to wait for a simple breakfast of eggs and toast for 45 minutes and every cup of coffee was slapped on the table spilling it's contents on the saucer if not in your lap. 

The service here is not just speedy but the staff is ever present (but hidden out of view) and anticipating your every need. 
For example when I woke up from a short nap on the swing someone walked over to ask if I would want some water.  When my husband mentioned he would prefer a smaller cup for his coffee the server passed down the word to everyone and ever since he got a small cup and I the big one.  When I mentioned how much I enjoy mangos that were just coming into season, they made sure that there was always mango in some form available to me. 
There are no set times for meals, whenever you are ready, so is the kitchen. They whip up fresh French toast of pancakes in a matter of minutes in the morning. 
Lunch consists of an appetizer, main dish and coffee and dinner is a three course meal served on the beach with tables set within the earshot of the lake waves, surrounded by hanging lamps and candles. 

The quality, complexity and presentation of the dishes is top notch and would get 5 stars among the pickiest of foodies in San Francisco. we were especially entranced by the different appetizers combining mouth watering spices. The sauces are out of this world and the fun event of surprise is always there as one does not need to agonize over a la cart choice but just wait for what special dishes will present themselves at the next meal. The fact that most ingredients have to be brought to the island makes the variety even more miraculous.  Truly it would be worth coming to the resort for food alone. 

We had a difficult time making a bank transfer for payment from the US and ended up paying with a credit card with an aditional cost. The management was extremely helpful in trying to resolve the banking issues and the upgrade they welcomed us with was another way to show how much they care and value their customers.

  • Stayed: November 2013
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4  Thank KsenijaCalifornia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2013

We visited Kaya Mawa after 2 weeks on safari in Zambia and before embarking on a further fortnight's safari in Malawi. Likoma Island is ideally placed for a little down-time in a strenuous schedule and Kaya Mawa is the perfect place to stay. The island (17 sq kms) is charming and easy to explore and the location of the lodge cannot be improved upon. The rooms are built on and around a rocky outcrop which juts into the lake. Toiletries are provided along with insect repellent. There is a small boutique. The reception, bar and restaurant areas are located on a beautiful beach where candle-lit tables are set for dinner each evening. Fresh water swimming proved to be wonderful with the lake offering a safe, clear and sparkling environment.

Lodge management and staff were all great - helpful and friendly without being over-bearing or intrusive. Many interesting activities were on offer, but we only had 3 nights and chose to spend our days relaxing. The Lodge offered all the luxuries we wanted whilst never becoming pretentious. The spa was lovely. The only reason I haven't given a 5 star rating is the same as 44Gray (see review below), but this would not stop me recommending Kaya Mawa 100%. Thank you to all the staff for a totally relaxing and memorable stay.

Room Tip: We stayed in Makungulu which is on its own little island with direct access to the lake from its pri...
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Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
1  Thank Grogsblossom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 1, 2013

My family of 5 spent 4 nights at Kaya Mawa. I fell in love with this lodge by reading Trip Advisor reviews and decided to book a trip to Malawi. I can honestly say we were not disappointed! Likoma Island is a hidden paradise where we felt like the rest of the world just dropped away. The sunset over the lake is spectacular. The lake itself is safe for children and my kids splashed and played in the water all week. We snorkeled, went ringo tubing, and kayaking. The location feels like a tropical hideaway with its lovely beach, turquoise water, and thatched roofed villas tucked into the rocks and trees. Our 2 bedroom villa was ideal for our family. It is right on the beach with easy access to the main common areas, yet far enough from the other villas so everyone has their privacy. The decor gave the perfect light and airy coastal feel.
We visited the local school and donated some supplies I brought with us. We also went to the cathedral and village market.
Dining on the water's edge was fabulously romantic. At the suggestion of the manager, we arranged for the children to eat first so we could have dinner after. It was perfect. The service overall was excellent. All of the staff at the lodge made sure we were very well taken care of.
Our one suggestion to put on the list of 'things to pack" would be water shoes. The sand on this beach is coarse and difficult to walk on barefoot. You will need flip flops to walk around and water shoes to protect your feet from the rocks in the water.
We will remember forever our amazing Kaya Mawa experience.

Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
2  Thank JessTex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 22, 2013

We stayed at KM after 2 weeks safari in Zambia with 3 separate camps and 6 internal light aircraft flights so were well & truly ready for some relaxation!

This resort is spectacularly beautiful and on just the most pleasant island you could imagine. We travelled in September and the Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa were bone dry and dusty - what a contrast at Likoma which is just such a fantastic place to stay. We were in Nhkwazi which is the most spectacular space - whatever you do, beg steal or borrow but definitely go for a premium room.

All the staff were absolutely great with nothing being too much trouble. We were even tutored by Helen and Martin to begin speaking the language with some predictable fun over errors. There is tons to do here or simply relax - its up to you. I would say our only small negative concerned the food. In Zambia, we had stayed in top notch camps where to food was incredible given the locations. At KM the food was OK in the main but not up to the same standard. There was one seriously tough piece of beef and salmon for dinner (bit bizarre in an African lake resort??!!) which was not good. lunches were good but on 2 or 3 mornings the juice was fizzy and the milk off, a gentle pointer to below standard food storage?? Overall, its is not a problem but the contrast with where we stayed on safari was noticeable.

Could not recommend this resort more highly for all the reasons that you will read about in all the reviews - overall a fabulous experience.

Room Tip: Pay for a premium room!
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  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank 44Gray
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 21, 2013

We have just returned from seven nights at Kaya Mawa and simply cannot praise this place enough. We are seasoned independent travellers; we've been doing the rounds for 20-odd years and always like to end our travels with a week or so of rest at a spoiling resort. We are seldom disappointed but rarely are we as comprehensively thrilled by the style, luxury and quality of service.

The staff were simply delightful. Not just the management team but also the local villagers who provide most of the hands-on service; clearly a well-trained and well looked-after team.

The food was exceptionally good, especially given the supply constraints to a remote island in Lake Malawi. Richard has found many and intriguing ways to make the most of the ingredients and offers a very delicious, healthy and varied diet. At first we found the idea of "no menu for lunch and dinner" rather strange, but soon learnt that it was a delight to have that question of choice taken away from you. If you do have food fads or specific dietary needs, we are reliably informed that you still get well looked after. We looked forward to every meal. Further, we are the sort of people who usually eschew breakfast, lunch and dinner arrangements as we really don't normally eat three meals a day. But the quantities, styles of food and relaxed timings for meals actually worked well for us. We neither gained nor lost weight.

The activities are excellent - we are not particularly adventurous once we are relaxing at our final resort but we tried quad-biking around the island which was fun. We also did lots of snorkelling around the rocks near the resort's beach - a very gentle way to enjoy seeing zillions of fish. We didn't bother with scuba diving but those who did it loved it. We did enjoy kayaking and Janie even tried some water skiing with the ever-patient Josh.

It is Africa and you do get some little visitors in your room - we ended up with a pet frog (who seemed to think he was a dog) and a pied crow who would try to steal our morning coffee milk whenever we weren't looking. So if your idea of luxury has to be hermetically sealed, then this place won't be for you.

It is a romantic place - most (but not all) of the other guests were honeymooners or romantically-inclined couples like ourselves. To some extent, people therefore keep themselves to themselves (which we like) but we did get to meet most of the other guests and found them delightful. Unpleasant people therefore should not apply!

Kaya Mawa is the epitome of what "barefoot luxury" should be - I hate that phrase because it is usually a euphemism for "bare-faced larceny" - but Kaya Mawa is genuinely delightful and luxurious in a simple, elegant way.

We cannot recommend this place highly enough.

Room Tip: We stayed in Nhkwazi and would recommend it highly. The three/four decks and plunge pool make it a...
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  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank IanLHarris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 21, 2013

We stayed for 3 nights at the end of our travels in Malawi and Zambia and wished we were staying for a lot longer!
We arrived on a very compact and bijoux plane (seating 6) and were met at the 'airport' by a couple of the team from Kaya. It was a lovely trip through a couple of villages and we received the usual very warm Malawian welcome from everyone we saw.
We were met by Michelle and Josh who took us for a nice cool drink before heading for our room. We were in Mbungu which is listed as a 'standard room' - all I can say is there's nothing standard about it! The room had beautiful views with our own deck giving us direct access to the Lake. The rooms are also provided with snorkelling gear, so you can swim with the fish as much as you like. The bed was exceptionally comfortable and waking up with the sound of the Lake and morning birds was delightful. We also took off our flip-flops on arrival and didn't put them back on till we left - sums up the whole experience!
The bar and sitting areas were super with lots of beautiful spots to enjoy a sundowner and take in the wonderful Lake views. On our last evening we walked up to the lookout point at the end of the bay and it was quite spectacular.
We took advantage of the various activities - there are kayaks which you can help yourself to and if you fancy exploring the island there are plenty of options. We went on a morning cruise round the island - stopping for a wonderful breakfast, having a snorkel and spotting Fish Eagles. We also stopped at Chipyela and visited St. Peter's Cathedral - it's a sight to behold - the mission houses are also still there and it's quite a thriving community. We would recommend this trip - was great to see the Island from the water. It was also good time-wise as we left at 07.00 and were back by lunchtime - so left our afternoon free.
My husband completed a taster diving lesson and had 1:1 tutoring - he really enjoyed the experience and of course where better than Lake Malawi to have a go!
The entire team are excellent - Michelle and Becky are always around to see how you're getting on and arrange any trips you may fancy. They're also really good fun and lovely people - we truly enjoyed our chats. Richard is the chef (who we never saw) but his food was lovely and each meal was very special and Josh was on hand to give advice should you wish to go diving. The rest of the team were also super - nothing was ever too much trouble and we also practiced our Chichewa - I'm sure our pronunciation was dreadful but everyone was very tolerant and encouraging! Especially Martin who wrote the words down for us - still having a go!
Another highlight was the local church choir who performed on one of the evenings - it was impossible to sit still and we were dancing and 'singing' along. So much energy and enthusiasm - a wonderful musical treat.
So to everyone at Kaya Mawa Dzikomo Kwambiri...and we hope to be back soon!

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank WarwickshirelittleL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Kaya Mawa

Address: P.O. Box 79, Likoma Island, Malawi
Location: Malawi > Northern Region > Likoma Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Likoma Island
Price Range: $525 - $611 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Kaya Mawa 3.5*
Number of rooms: 7
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Kaya Mawa Likoma Island
Kaya Mawa Malawi/Likoma Island

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