In 1994 two brothers, Patrick and Paul Simkin, discussing the problems of development in Africa, conceived a tourism initiative that would bring in guests and revenue, offering unparalleled beauty and comfort, yet at the same time help local people in the area to receive the benefits of modern development.
They set about looking for a place, and luck soon followed when a friend, Lola Castro, who had been working on a programme repatriating refugees returning from Malawi after the end of the civil war, told of the untouched beauty and wilderness on the Mozambique shores of Lake Malawi. After a canoeing expedition up the little-explored coastline, a potential site for the lodge was discovered. And what a site it turned out to be.
For many years, the unique beach, where the lodge is now built, was known as ‘Mchenga Nkwichi’ by the local fishermen of the lake. Named after the squeaking noise it makes when you walk on the sugar-fine sand. In the local ChiNyanja language it literally means ‘Squeaking Sands’.
The name Nkwichi stuck, and construction started on the lodge, built using local materials by local craftsmen. Designed to fit in with the local environment, using the natural features of the land, the lodge may have grown in stature from humble beginnings but has , never lost its feeling of intimacy, gathering awards and guests on the way.
Nkwichi Lodge became the catalyst for the Manda Wilderness Project, a far-reaching bid to help people in the area around Nkwichi Lodge enjoy the benefits of modern development, including the results of tourism. Through combining tourism with conservation and community development, the project so far has so far positively affected the lives of 20,000 people, and helped ensure the preservation of one of Africa’s most beautiful places.