Nkwichi Lodge

LAKE NIASSA, MOZAMBIQUE

On the wild shores of Lake Niassa, the 9th largest lake in the world, liess Nkwichi Lodge. At 560km long, 80km wide and up to 700m deep, the lake’s fresh water is crystal clear and contains a greater variety of indigenous fish species of than any other lake in the world. This barefoot lodge offers guests the chance to explore its untouched beaches and pristine waters whilst taking in the timeless beauty of the Niassa Bush.

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Nkwichi Lodge lies on the Mozambique shoreline at one of the most beautiful points on the lake. With a beach of fine, white sand which squeaks underfoot while walking (Nkwichi means ‘squeaky’ in the local language, so named by local fisherman long ago), Nkwichi’s chalets and surrounds have been carefully designed to provide absolute and intimacy for guests. It forms part of the Manda Wilderness Project consisting of the Lodge, the Manda Wilderness Community Trust (MWCT) and the Manda Wilderness Community Conservation Area (MWCCA). With a maximum capacity of only 14 guests, the lodge offers the highest levels of service in a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere.

 

Nkwichi prides itself on practicing responsible tourism. By staying at the lodge guests are contributing directly to the conservation of the unspoiled wilderness and the development of the local communities. The lodge provides wages for over 75 local members of staff; their salaries support, on average, up to 15 family members. This means that by staying at the lodge you will have an impact on the lives of over a thousand people.

 

www.nkwichi.com

The 4Cs

Nkwichi Lodge joined The Long Run in 2015 and committed to a holistic balance of the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of their local region.

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CONSERVATION

Nkwichi Lodge has a private conservation area of 650 hectares, which it holds under a 99-year lease from the Mozambican Government. Together with the local communities and in consultation with the provincial government and the WWF, the Manda Wilderness Project has helped set up the first freshwater lake reserve in Mozambique to protect the endemic cichlid fish of Lake Niassa. The Lake Niassa Reserve officially opened in May 2011 however has yet to be delimited.

 

The WWF has identified the 4 km lakeshore in front of Nkwichi Lodge as the most bio-diverse part of Lake Niassa, and the lake itself as the most bio-diverse in the world. Nkwichi Lodge has been actively working with the WWF to ensure the success of the Lake Niassa reserve. Through the Manda Wilderness Project, training is underway to help educate Nkwichi’s neighbouring communities on the importance of sustainable fishing. To encourage this, Nkwichi offers added incentives by purchasing fish only from those fishermen who have followed subscribed fishing practices and who do not fish in areas designated for conservation.

 

The Manda Wilderness Project supported the creation of the Umoji Association (meaning ‘As One’ in ChiNyanja, the local language), which represents 20,000 people in 16 villages spread over 250,000 hectares. – Through Umoji, communities have agreed to stop harmful activities such as chopping trees and snaring wild animals. It has also provided communities with training on more sustainable agricultural practices, rather than the prevalent slash-and-burn technique. As a result of these and other concerted efforts, the Manda Wilderness Community Conservation Area has been transformed from a piece of land with no hunting restrictions and uncontrolled burning to an area that is tightly monitored by the communities, intent on protecting their natural resources and creating an attraction for tourism.

 

COMMUNITY

Through its tourism enterprise, Nkwichi Lodge aims to provide local people with sources of income other than the pre-dominant subsistence farming and fishing currently relied on. It achieves this through direct employment or through sourcing its supplies from local people. Nkwichi is a founding member of Umoji Association (meaning ‘As One’ in ChiNyanja, the local language) – a community body that ensures Nkwichi’s continuous engagement with local communities – and has been elected into the Council of Direction for a second term. Each of the guest activities at Nkwichi are tailored to bring benefits for its neighbours. Through the Manda Wilderness Community Conservation Association, guests pay a fee directly to Umoji for guided walks which are led by local guides hired by NkiwchiNkwichi.

 

To ensure the added ability for local communities to continue to fend for themselves, Nkiwchi offers vocational training from the culinary arts and carpentry to computing and languages. This training is an integral part of the Lodge’s operations giving its employees the much needed skills for career growth in the tourism industry. In addition, Nkwichi Lodge uses a percentage of revenue earned from its guest accommodation fees to fund the Manda Wilderness Community Trust (MWCT) that runs a host of community-driven initiatives on the ground.

 

CULTURE

The local Nyanja people who make up the dominant tribal group in the Manda Wilderness area, are closely related to the Chewa people of Malawi. The Manda Wilderness Project ensures local customs are enhanced, not harmed, by the presence of tourists and strongly promotes the preservation of all local traditional practices, whether small or large. It provides guests with the opportunity to visit villages, during traditional dancing ceremonies, where they are encouraged to participate by local people and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for their culture. Nkwichi also invites village choirs and other performing groups to its premises to entertain its guests, further promoting local culture.

 

Through sponsorship the Lodge has helped revive a traditional dance known as M’ganda which was at one time widely practiced but began to slowly fizzle out. It is a lively dance which, in its heyday, was practiced by over 150 Nyanja men at one time. The Manda Wilderness Project has, in addition, created a market for traditional arts and crafts through sales to tourists at Nkwichi. By buying hand-crafted products from local artisans, the Lodge is able to keep such cultural practices alive.

 

The Lodge’s kitchen incorporates local ingredients into meals served to guests and its architecture boasts buildings hand-built by local craftsmen with locally purchased, biodegradable materials such as wood and thatch. The Manda Wilderness Project has gone a step further and carried out extensive research into the history of the lakeside and of Nyanjan culture, including its line of Chiefs. This research has been available to the communities, and provides valuable background information for visitors to the Lodge.

 

COMMERCE

Nkwichi Lodge sets aside a percentage of income from its tourism operation to support its community and conservation-based activities. It provides interest-free micro-loans to its staff to enable them supplement their income and devote more funds for larger personal projects. It works diligently to ensure its business-end is strong in order to sustain its employment of local people and encourage their pursuit of sustainable ways to eke out a living.

 

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