Nkhata Bay - A view from our expert author

Nkhata Bay by Ariadne Van Zandbergen, Africa Image Library,

Nkhata Bay ©

This chronically laid-back lakeside offers everything a backpacker could hope for, with swimming and diving by day and free-flowing libations by night.

Long one of the best-kept secrets on the African backpackers’ trail, Nkhata Bay has steadily grown in reputation over the past two decades to eclipse Cape Maclear as the most popular traveller congregation point on Lake Malawi, if not anywhere between Zanzibar and Victoria Falls. It’s not difficult to see why. Nkhata Bay has a gloriously lush and scenic setting, comprising a twin pair of bays enclosed by forested hills and separated by a long, narrow peninsula. And the small town itself, nestled between the hills and lakeshore, is as charming as it is uncategorisable – call it an overgrown Tonga fishing village, a venerable district capital, a bustling market port or an idiosyncratically laidback lakeside resort, one senses that few of its estimated 15,000 residents would be sure which of these labels wears best.

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