Blue Zebra Lodge

Blue Zebra Island Lodge is located on the tiny Nankoma Island, - which is part of a small archipelago of islands in the middle of Lake Malawi. Although it looks and feels older, it first opened July 2013. It is popular with the expat community living in Lilongwe, as it is a reachable 2 hour drive for a weekend stay. Blue Zebra is a simple lodge and doesn’t offer the luxury that can be found at some of the other properties. It is not a luxury lodge, and is fairly basic

The lodge is on a island, so a boat trip is the only way of getting there. That is obvious, but I never thought that the boat would pull up on an open beach, and not at a jetty. We had to board their boat when there was a large sea running - this necessitated wading waist deep with our luggage, to board the pitching boat. Nobody had warned us in advance of the lack of jetty, so we had to literally remove our trousers and wade out in our underwear - not a dignified way to arrive at the hotel

In addition there was a scam being operated on the beach by drivers, boat staff and shore station staff who were colluding to extract money from guests to carry their bags the 150 metres across the beach from the parking area to the boat. In fact the cars, 4*4s, were expected by the hotel to drive over the sand to the boat, with no need for manhandling on the beach - staff were just not doing that, hence the gap between car and boat. If you multiply the number of bags per day going to the island, and the number of days a year that the hotel is open, you can see that there is several thousand US dollars in cash sloshing around, which is a tidy sum in Malawi. Since I pointed the scam out to the hotel, I understand that they will try to take steps to stop it.



Once we got to Blue Zebra, we enjoyed our stay there. The Mexican manageress was very pleasant, and there is a pool - only infinity edge when their generator is running! - to swim in or the sandy beach. There is a rough path all the way round the island that is worth walking: it will probably take you an hour.

The chalets are really spacious canvas tents, all located near the dining area in the terraced garden above the main beach. The rooms sit on polished stone floors, and are built mostly using canvas. This canvas hangs from a wooden frame, under a thatch roof. Neutral tones are used throughout – resulting in a simple safari feel. The chalet we stayed in was "tired" and in need of some maintenance.

The dining room offered a limited choice lunch and dinner. The food was perfectly satisfactory, but in no way memorable. WiFi is available at the bar, though you may need to ask the barman to check that the connection is working properly.

For the trip back, the manager arrange for one of the staff to carry Chris ashore

My advice would be to compare prices of the various lake hotels and find one that suits you, After our arrival problems I would be chary about staying there again.