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Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Makokola Retreat, in my friend’s words, is the best facility along the stunning beaches of Lake Malawi – with regards to infrastructure and ambience.

Into Mangochi
Mangochi harbours some important history for the nation of Malawi, and the Yao people residents in this region dating back to the pre-colonial era.

The name Mangochi was derived from a nearby mountain. Some Yao chiefs explain that the name Mangochi means Mgoji, a rope, and signifies the place where Yao immigrants were bound together in a strong community.

In October 1891, the colonial government established a fort known as Fort Johnston in the Mangochi area to protect British interests. Following this establishment, Mangochi became a very significant place and was then popularly known as the Fort Johnston District. It was however changed back to Mangochi some years later after independence.

Makokola Retreat, formerly known as Club Makokola, is a favorite among Malawians and international tourists.

It boasts brilliantly green gardens which reveal spacious beach villas, and rooms perched along the shores of Southern Lake Malawi. They provide gracious service in an unmatched experience in Malawi. This showpiece property captures the essence of African design, culture and tradition.

The Retreat is located just north of Mangochi, on the palm fringed southern shore of Lake Malawi. Just a few miles away is Boadzulu Island, the most southern part of Lake Malawi’s National Park and home to many birds, fish and reptiles.Directions

We were warmly welcomed by the staff, who had been anxiously waiting our arrival.

We checked into our room, and I was nothing short of in awe. I had not intended to share on my social media about this particular trip, but such views could not be kept private. I put up a few stories about how gorgeous my room was, and the questions flooded in, asking where exactly this stunning place is.

Makokola Retreat has 67 rooms, with different designs and offering different types of services. The rooms are just a few steps from the beach, but designed with seclusion in mind.



The hotel recently added 22 luxury lake suites and 1 sunset villa to the hotel. I was quite impressed by the privacy of these suites, and that they come off as an extension to the main hotel. You enter through a small gate, which demarcates this side from what most have known to be Club Makokola.

The new side boasts a private quiet pool, resident guests only bar, and a gym that is accessible to all hotel guests.

All rooms will have air conditioners, private terrace/balcony area with spectacular views over Lake Malawi.

Most have not yet experienced the exquisite new lake suites, and many were thoroughly impressed with the design of the new rooms.

Right next to my room was the Sunset Villa, which has a 2 floors – a spacious living area on the ground floor, and the bedroom in the first floor. It also has a private swimming pool, and you get to watch the sunset over Lake Malawi from your balcony or private poolside. The views are simply to die for.

The property offers 22 spacious Lake Villas. Each has the following features:

Lakefront/Beach location and views
Double bed, with oversize mosquito net
Top rooms have showers only and bottom rooms have bathtubs and showers.
Comfortable separate sitting area
Equipped with in-room mini electronic safes and flat screen TV’s
Malawian cotton, locally embroidered bed linens
Tea/coffee making facilities
Airconditioning + Ceiling Fan system
Private veranda with comfortable sun chairs
Maximum occupancy 2 adults. Adult only area- no bookings with kids under 12 years.
Lake Suite residences have exclusive access to the lake suite pool and bar area.



There are recently renovated 8 superior beach rooms, and 5 beach family rooms. Each of the rooms possess the following characteristics:

Located on the reception side of the hotel near the bar and swimming pool area
Family rooms each have two separate bedrooms, one with a double bed and one with twin beds, they have a sharing bathroom.
Superior beach rooms have a double bed, en-suite bathroom and a living room area with a sofa that can be made up for toddlers to sleep on.
Have a beach/ lake view
Only have ceiling fans
Room terrace

The Makokola has 14 well-appointed standard Beach rooms, with king sized beds and 6 beach family rooms with twin beds. They are furnished in an African contemporary style and are just steps away from the lake.

These rooms have the following features:

Located near the boat house
Standard beach family rooms have two separate bedrooms with a double bed in one and two twin beds in the other. They have a sharing bathroom.
One Standard room is fully handicap equipped.
Standard beach rooms have a double bed and en-suite bathroom, two of them have twin beds.
Have a beach/lake view.
Only have ceiling fans
Room terrace

The Makokola has 12 Garden rooms, 6 of which are family rooms. These host two separate bedrooms and a sharing bathroom. The main bedroom with a king sized bed and the other one with two twin beds; all walking distance from the Lake. They are furnished in an African contemporary style, surrounded by the tranquillity of lush gardens and are just steps away from the lake.

The garden rooms have the following facilities:

Located near the conference centre
Rooms have a king- sized bed, en-suite bathroom and a balcony area that overlooks the gardens
Garden Family Rooms have a king-sized bed, four kids bunk beds, en-suite bathroom and a terrace area that overlooks the gardens
A 5-minute walk to the main restaurant and facilities
Only have ceiling fans.

Whether your vacation dream is action packed or absolutely relaxed, The Makokola Retreat includes temptations for any interest, all year-round.

The hotel offers plenty leisure activities for your downtime – Spa escapes, golfing, active pursuits from waterskiing to sailing, walking to a local village or reading a book.

Water based activities
Most of the water activities are focused around the Lake. You can snorkel the waters which are abundant in fresh water life or watch the sunset as you sail on their boats, or maybe cruise to the island nearby or water-ski close to the beach. The Makokola Retreat is a water lover’s paradise and we can provide equipment and guides for:

Speedboats rentals
Wake snake
Round tubes
Island Excursions
I am a water lover. Because of the weather this time of the year however, I was only able to do the Island excursion using the speedboat. We had a lovely speedboat operator, who took us safely to and from the Bird (Boadzulu) Island.

Bird (Boadzulu) Island
Boadzulu Island or Bird Island is the most southern part of Lake Malawi’s National Park, and part of the World Heritage Site host to the biggest breeding colony of White Breasted Cormorants in Southern Africa.

Its waters are crystal clear and the presence of the multi coloured Mbuna fish provides a surpassing beauty that makes the island an excellent spot for snorkelling and swimming.

We took a morning cruise, but alternatively, you can explore the island on a sunset cruise which can offer you a peaceful and romantic setting for sundowners. We managed to watch the fish eagles feed.

Along the shores you’ll see the fishing villages overlooking the lake and marvel as the sun sinks on the horizons casting the unquestionable beauty of an African sunset on the calm waters of Lake Malawi. Either trips can be done by the M.V. Sunbird or a speedboat.

Land based activities
For people who prefer activities on land, an exciting array of land activities awaits you at The Makokola Retreat.

Venture on a village excursion rich in culture or discover the local flora and fauna.

If you are in the mood for a more challenging activity, golfing or a beach volleyball match can be an exceptionally memorable experience in this amazing setting. At the Retreat you can enjoy:

The Lake Spa
Tennis (flood lit tennis court)
Five a side soccer (flood lit field)
Beach volleyball
Cultural and historical encounters
Bird watching
Day trips
I did get the chance to experience the lake spa, as at the time of my visit, it was undergoing refurbishment.


The retreat now has three swimming pools, much to my pleasant surprise. I had seen photos of and by one of the new swimming pool, and had for a good while been asking myself if they had renovated their other pool by the restaurant side.

The Sunset Villa has its own private infinity pool, while the lake suite section has an exclusive lake suite resident pool only.

The main pool is frequented by both residents and day visitors.


The main restaurant that newly re-opened in December 2019 Il Lago. We then also have the El Chiringuito Beach Bar at the lake suite section that serves a tapas menu exclusively to lake suite residents only from 10:00 – 21:00.

I was also surprised to find out that the El Chiringuito Beach Bar at the lake suite section with the stunning beach view, serves a tapas menu exclusively to lake suite residents only from 10:00 – 21:00.

The food was absolutely amazing. I enjoyed the chicken khwasukhwasu, and the grilled fish was equally amazing.

On our arrival, we had used the buffet at the main restaurant, and were served some Malawian cuisines by the waiters dressed in Malawian traditional attire. It was a lovely experience.

This restaurant is much prettier in the day time, because it faces the main pool area, which is directly overlooking the beach.

The breakfast menu has some cold foods and waffles at the buffet, and you have the option to order hot foods from the kitchen through a waiter.

The Makokola also has a bar at the luxury side, and both bars in my opinion had some amazing cocktails.

They both offered alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

The service was brilliant on both sides, particularly the new rooms’ side.

Drinks room service for lake suite guests are complimentary, however not food service. They do not offer room service as a hotel, but merely do terrace service for drinks to guests on lake suite side at no charge.

We had enthusiastic Malawian hosts to look after us during our stay. They took care of all our needs, including serving our meals, arranging activities and guiding us on excursions.

They are part of The Makokola Retreat’s commitment to the local community and upliftment of the country’s people. Many of them have very little in the way of formal education, but they have a genuine warmth and friendliness, and were evidently delighted to receive us.

We truly enjoyed out stay, and hope you have a lovelier time than we did.

All my love,


Date of stay: September 2021
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank NthandaManduwi
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 27 September 2021

My friend and I were pleasantly surprised when we got more than we expected on our stay at the Sunset Villa It's very serenely decorated and the private pool is amazing. The staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful, always within earshot. The privacy and top tier accommodation are definitely a selling point. It is a must visit. We enjoyed the chambo dinner and pizzas and wine for lunch. The restaurant was flexible enough to make off the menu bar snacks for us, such small things made it special for us. A must visit for anyone who enjoys quiet time away. The boat ride to the bird Island was another amazing thing to do but we enjoyed drinks poolside the most.. book your stay NOW!

Date of stay: September 2021
Trip type: Travelled with friends
Thank uchizic2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 26 September 2021

I have always enjoyed my stay at Makokola Retreat which is located on the shores of Lake Malawi in Mangochi. This Hotel is really awesome, the whole package from the restaurant, the coffee shop, both bars , conference halls and the rooms, everything is beautifully designed and well thought.

They have amazing staff and their beach is one of the best beaches in Malawi. Almost every spot at the hotel is covered with strong internet signal.

They have an International Airport for small planes making it easier for travelers to visit this beautiful Hotel. Their carpark is big and security is tight.

I highly recommend this hotel.

Date of stay: August 2021
Thank jeannieduffy
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 17 September 2021

RESERVATIONS: The process was slower than expected, it took about 24 hours to make a reservation. PRICE: The prices are definitely higher than most of the resorts in Mangochi but its value for money. THE ROOM: I booked the Superior Beach Room and once I accessed the room, I could easily tell that these rooms were constructed with attention to detail from start to finish, including the furniture choice. FOOD: There was usually a buffet. I personally enjoyed the Chambo which was served differently during every meal. THE FACILITIES: I noticed that they had a mini football pitch, a tennis court, conference rooms, a squash court, golf course, gym, a landing strip (with planes) and pools. I took time to play 9 holes of golf and also used the gym. CUSTOMER SERVICE: I had forgotten to sign the bill for my meal after lunch; a staff member called Simbalashi followed me to my room to have me sign the bill. At that moment I was failing to access my room because the key card was not working. He took the key card to the reception to have it reactivated. INFRASTRUCTURE: Having travelled to various resorts across the country, I can confidently say The Makokola Retreat is in a class of its own when it comes to infrastructure; they definitely do not take any short cuts or compromise on quality. RECOMMENDATION: It is arguably one of the best lake shore resorts in Malawi. Overall, the experience was good and memorable. It is ideal for a quiet get away with family, a spouse or for business.

Date of stay: August 2021
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Widdey
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 23 July 2021

Not only was it a peaceful stay, the rooms were spotless, food impeccable and beach pristine. Club Mak for me was a total respite from working and allowed me to recharge my batteries in the most peaceful way. Having an adult side is key for those who need a bit of privacy as well. All the service was excellent, can't wait to get back there!

Date of stay: July 2021
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank casey e
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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