Ist not at typical tourist highlight but if you are bored of hanging around on the beaches or you need a break from scuba diving, then visit the Chembe Aids Project. The staff will be happy to explain the project to you and show you around. Nobody expect you to donate money but of course you can feel free to leave a few Kwachas to support their work.
The beach of Cape Maclear is on the north-western tip of the penisula. The water is calm here compared to other places at the lake. You can easily see the western side of the lake from Cape Maclear. The nortern side is just water as far as you can see. But "Domwe island" cover the view to the north.
Cape Maclear looks like a real beach resort, althought it's a lake. The long, sandy beach is beautiful. There are resorts and bamboo huts directly on the beach. The locals are apparently living in harmony with the tourists. They are doing their daily routines, wash their clothes, make food and have their small dugout canoes and fishingsboats right beside the tourists. Small children plays around on the beach. The African people are musical people. Especially in the morning you can hear the women sing when they are washing clothes. It gives a genuine African feeling. The evenings are also like this when the locals gather on the beach. Sitting on a chair and watch the sunset is really nice. It is understandable that backbackers have had Cape Maclear as one of their hidden gems.
When you have a closer look, you find out that it isn't too nice to take a bath in the same water as people wash their clothes and washing-up after dinner. Some places of the beach has a bad smell. And it doesn't make it better to know that calm freshwater in Africa normally carries the parasite which cause the disease "bilharzia".
Thumbe (or Thumbi) island is one km from Cape Maclear beach (see picture). I had the pleasure to paddle with a macaro (dugout canoe) to this island. There are mostly rocky shores and the vegetation is overgrown. Nothing to do there.
Cape Maclear is on the north-western tip of the peninsula, and the sunset is right in front of the beach. Sitting on a chair and watch the sunset is really nice. It is understandable that backbackers have had Cape Maclear as one of their hidden gems.
Lake Malawi National Park is located a little bit further south west in the peninsula, not far from Cape Maclear. It's a freshwater national park with tropical fish.
The park is a World Heritage Site, and includes a land area around the cape and up to 100 metres off shore. You have to pay to get in.
Hiking in the nearby hills is a thing not to be missed! The trails are marked with green arrows and begin near the Missionary Graves. It s an easy 40 minutes walk to the main viewing point above Chembe Village. When the trail splits take the right fork. You can continue and climb the Nkhungguni Peak, or do a circular walk, visit Mawala Wa Mphini and return on the Monkey Bay - Chembe road. Take the left fork then. There is also the option to continue and end up near Otter Point but the track is not marked very clearly.
Guides can be hired in Chembe Village or near the Lake Malawi National Park entrance. Its no need to take a guide to walk to the viewing point but if you want to other walks its recommended.
There are snakes! So - wear proper shoes, watch out and be careful!!!
The locals say that there are ghosts on the peak. They make most people lose something. Believe it or not but watch out. The Chembe beach boys will be happy to guide you. They probably know some more entertaining stories.
If you intend to visit Otterpoint, which can be seen on many postcards, you have to enter the park or hire a dugout / canoe. On the path leading to that place there are some explanations about the plants and animals in that area! Many rock-rabbits and lizards can be observed, sometimes even otters!
Its nice to spend a couple of hours on this rocky outcrops!
Immediately you will be realised as a new visitor to Chembe Village and the locals will ask you to book a daytrip in a dugout to Thumbie Island, a picnic on the beach or a trekking tour around the nearby hills! All of these activities are worth doing, but check with other travellers before you choose your guide!
Cape Maclear and Chembe village is a community with almost 13000 inhabitants. It looks much smaller due to the basic infrastructure. The main road is a dusty gravel road.
this is a must, get on the glass bottom boat and take a short cruise along lake malawi...you are guaranteed to see an array of rainbow fish..its awesome!