Travelling Africa, one of questions I ask myself most often is – Will I like ___ place? Is it nice?
Nice. The word that all our primary school teachers tell us not to use in our essays, yet here I am, a self-proclaimed travel blogger, writing to put cash in that wallet, using it to make life decisions.
Sure, I could use words like comfortable, scenic, cheap, worth it, amazing etc. But nice, is the efficient word us travelers use to put across succinctly how we feel about a place and whether you’d like it too.
Imagine meeting someone at the bus station while trying to buy a ticket somewhere.
Me: Hey do you know where to buy a ticket to get to location X?
Stranger: Yeah right around the corner, I just came from there!
Me: How’d you like it?
Stranger: Oh it’s really nice! You’d love it!
One simple word – Nice, has the ability to encompass everything you’d need to know as a traveler efficiently.
Essentially, incorporating his/her opinion on the price of a dormitory bed/room, general cleanliness, good amount of things to do in the area, availability of Wi-Fi, good atmosphere, helpful staff and safety of the place I was headed to.
I was hard pressed to find somewhere which I’d deem nice and chill in the places I’ve been to in Africa thus far. The closest I’ve come to attaining nice and chill was Sesriem in the Namib desert at our Sesriem Oasis campsite (but getting there is pretty impossible without a car) or in our amazing Airbnb home in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Then we found it,
Cape Mac Clear, Lake Malawi.
I am really not one to squeal in excitement over large bodies of fresh water but Lake Malawi is quite something in itself. I don’t know what it is, nor can I quite put my finger on it, but I absolutely loved staring out at its expanse. While finding it pretty darn cool that this lake is bigger than my entire country – Singapore.
Flitting from one place to the next since our stay in Johannesburg, South Africa was getting fast getting pretty tiring. We could not wait to find a nice, chill place to kick up our feet and let down our guard for a few days to escape the African hustle.
Enter The Funky Cichlid in Cape Mac Clear, Monkey Bay, Malawi
Basically our eden for 4 days.
While it’s slightly challenging to get to with a good 12km drive from the turn off before Monkey Bay, the roads are surprisingly well paved past the first km or so. Driving through Lake Malawi National Park is quite the sight. From little kids waving at you, to slightly older kids knocking on your car with outstretched hands demanding money, to adults working the agriculture fields or taking a break from the sun in tiny shacks dotting the fields, it definitely is an insight into the everyday life of Malawians.
But oh it was worth it.
The Funky Cichlid is a hostel on the shores of Lake Malawi. With dorms, private rooms, a beautiful campsite which was our home for 4 days, a restaurant/bar with delicious food, loungy chairs to hang out in all day, and best of all a stunning view of Lake Malawi for days. This is literally the view from your deck chair in the lounge. How sick!
The only drawback was that you had to pay for Wi-fi (via Skyband) and the electricity would go out at least once or twice a day. Skyband does give 100MB free/day if you sign in via Facebook so if that’s all you need it should do the trick
PROTIP: If you need internet for work or incessant video watching, get an Airtel sim card, 500MWK for the sim and 2000MWK for 1 GB, and 5000MWK for 3GB.
The network is pretty good, even in Cape Mac Clear and you don’t have to be reliant on whether there is electricity at the hostel.
The food at Funky Cichlid was also amazing and we had all our meals there.
Yes. ALL our meals.
Try the grilled fish with rice, or the fish curry, or pretty much anything fish on the menu. You can thank me later.
One of my favourite things we did there was taking a walk through the village there. Half naked kids running in the streets, kicking a ball that has seen better days. Men, behind sewing machines making local bags, shirts, pants in the traditional kitenge. Women, washing dishes, clothes and their kids in the lake – you know, just daily life in Malawi.
We spent 4 blissful days in Cape Mac Clear in the Funky Cichlid. It could not have worked out any better. The stress of immigration, getting the car, finding out Malawi does not do credit cards were all forgotten by the end of our stay in our new-found paradise.
Initially, we had planned for 2 days there and then a long day’s drive up to Nyika National Park and Nkata Bay but decided to axe that from our plans to stay longer in paradise – definitely zero regrets there.
Nice, is definitely an understatement for all you travelers out there. Oh and it also does not have a proper address, that’s how chill it is (: