Malawi: Maybe tomorrow…

‘Rainbow!’ I shrieked excitedly as we flew in a bonsai plane over Lake Malawi towards Likoma Island. It was hard to tell where the lake ended and the sky began – except when a rainbow suddenly danced out of the clouds.

Lake Malawi

Rainbow over Lake Malawi. Image by Bridget Hilton-Barber

Likoma Island is an enchanted spot in northern Malawi, a tiny island with a couple of villages, a small mercado, a vast cathedral built in 1903 and a handful of beach hideaways. We landed at the tiny airport, got loaded onto an open 4×4 and headed down dusty tracks, past goats and baobab trees and were suddenly greeted by the most amazing views of the lake.

Malawi, Kaya Mawa

Kaya Mawa, Malawi. Image by Bridget Hilton-Barber

There are only a few spots to stay on Likoma Island. One is Kaya Mawa, a series of utterly gorgeous self-catering designer houses, owned by a couple who are planning a series of boutique hotels across Africa, yay! Due to renovations, no doubt finished by now, they took us out on a little boat to their other spot called Mango Drift – a fabulous little backpackers named after the many, many mango trees on the island.

Mango Drift

Mango Drift, Malawi. Image by Bridget Hilton-Barber

Kaya Mawa, by the way, means ‘maybe tomorrow’ in the local Chichewe, but it so applied to my headspace. Why do anything today except gaze at the beauty? Being 50, it’s been a few years since I stayed at a backpacker joint, but I guess it’s a bit like riding the proverbial bicycle. It wasn’t long before my shoes came off, my costume and sarong came on, a cold beer appeared in my hand, and I settled down at Mango Drift’s reed-and-thatch beach bar and whiled away the afternoon idly chatting to whichever young travellers sauntered by… a psychologist from Denmark, a teacher from Hillbrow (!), a pilot from Benoni, a student from Italy.

Lake Malawi

Chilling at a beach bar on Lake Malawi. Image by Bridget Hilton-Barber

By sunset I was still chilling at the beach bar, listening to the clatter of weaver birds in a nearby baobab tree. And what a sunset it was – red, wild and full of promise. I went for a gentle swim in the lake, laughing to myself as I counted the stars coming out. Will I ever grow up? I wondered. Maybe tomorrow, kaya mawa.

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Mango Drift Sunset, Malawi

Mango Drift Sunset, Malawi. Image by Bridget Hilton-Barber

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