Funky Favourites – The best of the Funky Cichlid Backpacking Lodge

Funky Favourites – The best of the Funky Cichlid Backpacking Lodge

The Funky Cichlid is a fabulous backpackers lodge on the banks of Lake Malawi in a small village called Cape Maclear. Here is a link to their website, which is having a total revamp at the end of October so watch this space!

There are endless opportunities for sunshine, happiness and good times at this little slice of backpacking heaven, but here are my five absolute favourites (in no particular order):

1. GnT’s on the deck


It may seem simple but it really is a highlight. You will soon learn that Funky’s is the unofficial hot spot of Cape Maclear! There is something truly magical about sipping on an ice cold gin and tonic (Malawi Gin of course) on the Funky’s  deck and watching the sunset just to the left of Thumbi Islands. The frequently heard fish eagles cry, appropriately known as the voice of Africa, manages to make those GnT’s go down even smoother.

** If you are having these delightful GnT’s on a Friday or Saturday evening, you will probably be roped into a night of partying in no time at all! This place hums!**

2. Otter Point swimming and snorkeling

Otter Point is a beautiful bolder covered point at the end of the beach, just up the strip from Funky’s. You can get there by boat or you can simply walk along the beach until you reach it.

The water is beautifully clear and its so easy to see hundreds of stunning cichlids. I didn’t have snorkel gear and I got to see plenty just from swimming around.

It is apparently very rare to see the actual otters that the point is named after but I was very fortunate to see them on a sunset cruise of my very first night in Malawi.

3. Sunset boat ride around Thumbi Island and seeing the fish eagles


There are lots of guys on the beach who will offer these tours to you but we organised through Duncan, one of Funky’s managers. This worked out really well because we got to split the cost with some fellow backpackers and the good people of Funky’s even organised a cooler box full of drinks for us. The sunset boat ride very quickly became the most delightful booze cruise.

While stopping on the rocks at Thumbi Island we could see hundreds of beautiful fish from the boat because the waters of Lake Malawi really are that crystal clear! The island is uninhabited, making it a bird paradise. Look carefully enough and you are almost guaranteed to see a pair of fish eagles at any time of the day.

I realize some people will be against this and believe it to have negative impacts on the island’s ecosystem, but on these boat rides a few fresh fish are thrown into the lake for the fish eagles. This is obviously a tourist delight as you get to see this glorious, graceful giants fly down for the ‘catch’ – quite a sight!

** I can confirm that there were plenty of times when I saw the eagles hunt for themselves so there is no need to worry that they have lost their ability to fend for themselves. **

4. Snorkelling at Thumbi Island


You can easily catch a boat to Thumbi Island but its great fun to kayak or SUP to the island. Funky’s offers reasonably priced snorkel, kayak and SUP hire so it really couldn’t be easier. I have never seen so many fish (all beautiful cichlids) in one place – incredible!

Those who are slightly less than graceful (this includes me) need to keep in mind that it can be pretty difficult to get back into your kayak when you’re finished snorkeling – the rocks are slippery.

Sadly I wasn’t armed with my own waterproof camera and really regretted it, so make sure you take yours with you if you have one!

5. Fish curry

The fish curry on the Funky Cichlid lunch and dinner menu is a Kampango (local fish from the lake that looks like a catfish) curry. It is delicious and an absolute must try! I have since found out that a guest once even got the chefs to teach her how to make it and she made a video about it.

The curry is incredibly tasty and not overly spicy. Be warned, the good people of Malawi can often be extremely generous when serving the rice. A small rice mountain might arrive on your plate.

If you’re nervous of trying out the local foods like rats and goats (no one could get me to even consider trying them) then I highly recommend going for this delicious option instead!


There are loads of other fabulous things to do at the Funky Cichlid so don’t feel limited by this list. Just know that this spot is a wonderful adventure, no matter how you piece together your trip.

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