Nkwichi Blog

And the wind cries Mwera…

In many cultures around the world, a people’s vocabulary is shaped by their surroundings, most often illustrated by the Inuit culture’s variety of words for the different types of snow. In Nyanja culture, the ‘People of the Lake’, they have developed sensitivity for the different types of wind which breeze over and occasionally batter the lake, and have named these accordingly.

For most of the year, there is a steady breeze from the north of the lake, known as ‘Vuma’ in the local language, which gently cools during the hotter weather and provides the myriad local boats with their sailing stamina. In June and July however, the wind, now known as ‘Mwera’, changes and blows from the South of the lake, and brings with it some of the best surf conditions (on a lake!) anywhere in the world.

Lake Malawi may not instantly spring to mind when considering places for body-boarding however at this time of year, the normally placid Lake of Stars, (though of course, known for its temper during the rainy season’s storms), pushes 2-3m waves onto the beaches. At Nkwichi, this means body-boards bobbing about in the surf, and a chance to test your disbelief that it’s still a fresh-water lake, and not the seeming ocean that sprays and splashes around you.

The ‘Mwera’ wind doesn’t only make great surfing conditions; it also has the effect of pounding down the quartz and mica-filled stones of the Rift Valley coastline to create the fabulous stretches of beaches for which the Mozambican side of the lake is renowned. On the Nkwichi beach, seeing all the orange and gold-tinted translucent pebbles rolling around in the waves, it’s almost like witnessing a snapshot of geology in action.

The other unexpected bonus of ‘Mwera’ time, is that it creates the ideal conditions for catching Chambo fish, the lip-smacking Tilapia for which the lake is famous. Fisherman can be seen each day bringing their catches to Nkwichi, and after a hearty session of body-boarding or rolling around in the waves, there are few better ways to satisfy the appetite than with this most delectable of meals.

And then, from one day to the next, Mwera dies down and the lake returns to a serene composure. Body boards are left on the beach, snorkels are snatched up and scarcely a ripple is left to remind you of the previous tumult, and the unique surf of Lake Malawi.