Makokola Retreat, in my partner’s words, is the best facility along the stunning beaches of Lake Malawi – with regards to infrastructure and ambience.
We arrived in Mangochi in the evening, shortly after 7pm, and drove directly to the hotel. The town is located on the southern end of Lake Malawi.
Mangochi harbours some important history for the nation of Malawi and the Yao people, residents in this region dating back to the pre-colonial era.
The name Mangochi was derived from a nearby mountain. Some Yao chiefs explain that the name Mangochi is a local word for a rope, and signifies the place where Yao people were bound together in a strong community.
In October 1891, the colonial government established a fort known as Fort Johnston in the Mangochi area to protect British interests. Following this establishment, Mangochi became a significant place and was then popularly known as the Fort Johnston District. It was however changed back to Mangochi some years after independence.
Makokola Retreat, formerly known as Club Makokola, is a favorite among Malawians and international tourists.
It boasts brilliantly green gardens which reveal spacious beach villas, and rooms perched along the southern shores of Lake Malawi. They provide gracious service in an unmatched experience in Malawi. This showpiece property captures the essence of African design, culture and tradition.
Makokola is located just north of Mangochi, on the palm-fringed southern shore of Lake Malawi. Just a few miles away is Boadzulu Island, the southernmost part of Lake Malawi National Park and home to many birds, fish and reptiles.
We were warmly welcomed by the staff, who had been anxiously awaiting our arrival.
We checked into our room, and I was nothing short of in awe. I had not intended to share on my social media about this particular trip, but such views could not be kept private. I put up a few stories about how gorgeous my room was, and the questions flooded in, asking where exactly this stunning place is.
Makokola Retreat has 67 rooms, all wonderfully designed and offering different types of services. The rooms are just a few steps from the beach, but designed with seclusion in mind. Rooms include luxury lake suites, the two-storey sunset villa, beach family rooms, standard beach family rooms and garden family rooms. The property also has three swimming pools, including an infinity pool.
Whether your vacation dream is action packed or absolutely relaxed, The Makokola Retreat includes temptations for any interest, all year round.
The hotel offers plenty of leisure activities for your downtime – spa escapes, golfing and active pursuits – water skiing, sailing, local village visits.
Most of the water activities are focused around the lake. You can snorkel the waters which are abundant in aquatic life or watch the sunset as you set sail on the lake, or maybe cruise to the island nearby or water-ski close to the beach. The Makokola Retreat is a water lover’s paradise and can provide equipment and guides for, snorkelling, sailing, speed boating, kayaking and island excursions.
I am a water lover. Because of the weather this time of the year however, I was only able to do the island excursion using the speedboat. We had a lovely speedboat operator, who took us safely to and from the Bird (Boadzulu) Island.
The island is a World Heritage Site and host to the biggest breeding colony of white breasted cormorants in Southern Africa.
Its waters are crystal clear and the presence of the multi-coloured mbuna fish provides an incredible beauty that makes the island an excellent spot for snorkelling and swimming.
We took a morning cruise and watched the fish eagles feed. Alternatively, you can explore the island on a sunset cruise which can offer you a peaceful and romantic setting for sundowners.
Along the shores you’ll see the fishing villages overlooking the lake and marvel as the sun sinks on the horizons, casting the unquestionable beauty of an African sunset on the calm waters of Lake Malawi.
For people who prefer activities on land, an exciting array of land activities awaits you at The Makokola Retreat. Venture on a village excursion rich in culture or discover the local flora and fauna.
If you are in the mood for a more challenging activity, golfing or a beach volleyball match can be a memorable experience in this amazing setting. At the Retreat you can enjoy the Lake Spa, tennis, squash, five a side football, beach volleyball, cultural and historical encounters and bird watching.
Restaurants and bars
Il Lago, newly re-opened in December 2019 is Makokola’s main restaurant. There is also El Chiringuito Beach Bar at the lake suite section that serves a tapas menu exclusively to lake suite residents from 10am to 9pm.
The food was absolutely amazing. I enjoyed the chicken khwasukhwasu, and the grilled fish was equally amazing.
On our arrival, we had used the buffet at the main restaurant, and were served some Malawian cuisine by the waiters dressed in Malawian traditional attire. It was a lovely experience.
This restaurant is particularly gorgeous in the day time, because it faces the main pool area, which is directly overlooking the beach.
The breakfast menu has some cold foods and waffles at the buffet, and you have the option to order hot foods from the kitchen through a waiter.
The Makokola also has two bars, and both bars in my opinion had some amazing cocktails and brilliant service. They both offered alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
We had enthusiastic Malawian hosts to look after us during our stay. They took care of all our needs, including serving our meals with care, arranging activities and guiding us on excursions. They are part of The Makokola Retreat’s commitment to the local community and upliftment of the country’s people. They have a genuine warmth and friendliness, and were delighted to receive us.
We truly enjoyed our stay, and hope you have a lovelier time than we did.
Reservations Direct: +265884602424/2651580417