We were supposed to arrive at Likoma Island early in the morning, but ended up arriving in the middle of the next night. A drive through the darkness on one of the few cars of the island took us to a beach hotel on the western side of Likoma. After waking up the next morning, we actually saw the island for the first time. The first thing to notice, no doubt, was the absolute lack of any kind of hassle, stress, or whatever. Just the sound of modest waves on the beach, people laughing at a distance, and, every now and then, a mango plopping onto the sandy beach. Since scuba diving was unfortunately out of the question because there was no one who could operate the equipment, the main activities at the beach included snorkeling, chatting with others, roaming the beach for fallen mangoes, or just laying down and reading.
The water of Lake Malawi was surprisingly clean, and swimming was just great, because the temperature of the water had the right temperature. Sunsets on the western side of the island were great: the big red-orange ball sinking into the lake and disappearing behind the distant hills of the Malawian mainland was a spectacle that was different every day. But apart from the beach, Likoma Island is also great to explore on foot. There are several small fishing villages on the coast, and in between them, trails to walk on. There are hardly any cars on the island, which makes walking a true pleasure. One of the constant ingredients of the landscape of Likoma is the baobab tree, and I saw them in all sorts and sizes. Some of the baobabs looked very old, resilient and sturdy. Another important tree anywhere on the island were mango trees, and as it was mango season, there was a constant supply of fresh mangoes: merely picking them from the ground was enough for a juicy and tasteful fruit.
The main village of Likoma is Chipyela, which is surprisingly spread out. Apart from the famous St. Peters Cathedral, it also has an interesting market, a shopping street, schools, sport fields, a cemetery under a huge mango tree, a small mosque, dhows on the beach - once you reach the beach, it seems like you can touch Mozambique just on the other side of Lake Malawi. People are even much more laid back than in mainland Malawi, with a sincere curiosity about the occasional visitor. Likoma Island gave me such a good feeling that I almost stayed - but in the end, my curiosity to explore other places got the upper hand. But Likoma Island is one of those places wehre you could easily stay much longer than you ever anticipated...
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Likoma Island (Malawi). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Likoma Island.
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