The Mushroom Farm Eco-Lodge just outside of Liviningstonia in northern Malawi was somewhere that we marked as a must-do early on in our planning phase
11 May 2018
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With a myriad of glowing reviews and a commitment to sustainability within the local people and environment, The Mushroom Farm Eco-Lodge just outside of Livingstonia in northern Malawi was somewhere that we marked as a must-do early on in our planning phase.
After arriving at the small village of Chitimba on the banks of Lake Malawi - us, our two bikes, 3 locals from Livingstonia and a range of supplies piled into the back of a pick-up truck for a 45 minute climb up the side of a mountain on a road that it would be very kind to say was just bumpy. After over 1,500km of cycling, our saddles sores were not so happy with our rickety ride.
However, all was forgiven as soon as we arrived at Mushroom Farm - we walked into the lodge' s restaurant deck and gazed over a panoramic view of Lake Malawi and the surrounding hills. We set up our tent in prime position (overlooking the lake of course), tucked into some food from the restaurant (all delicious vegetarian options, all freshly sourced from their on-site permaculture garden, all wonderfully massive portions) and sipped on a coffee (roasted at the farm) - this was turning out to be just our kind of place, and just the kind of place to recharge and soak up the outstanding beauty of Malawi.
Speaking to Cameron the owner, we also came to learn about the work that Mushroom Farm does with the local community. After taking over the farm 5 years ago, Cameron has progressed the lodge for tourists' experiences and it's involvement with the local Manchewe villagers. Guests' laundry is washed by local ladies who also make jewellery and other gifts to sell - all sources of income. An outstanding example of this is the funding and support provided by Mushroom Farm for a hydroelectric dam that will provide electricity initially for a village maize mill and in time for the village itself. In the longer term, it may also supplement the existing solar electricity at Mushroom Farm, but for now, it is clear that for Cameron, the priority lies with the community.
While Mushroom Farm has a relaxing just-sit-and-take-it-all-in vibe and sits in a quiet, fairly isolated part of the world, there is still much to do and see. We climbed to the top of the Chombe Plateau with funny and entertaining Mushroom Farm guide, Thomas. The plateau offers unbelievable 360° views of the lake and surrounds, a mist see. A walk to a waterfall or a tour of historic Livingstonia are also possible.
One of the highlights of our stay occurred at the Lodge when we decided to wander down to the permaculture gardens. Here we met Alec the Gardener, a man with one of the most friendly faces you will come across. We wandered in and he spent the next half an hour of his day taking us through his very impressive garden that he has developed over the last 7 months. Alec took time explaining the principles of sustainable agriculture, how the Lodge utilises any waste, how every plant has multiple roles in the complicated ecosystem of a successful garden, and which plants would make up part of our coming dinner!
There's so much to Mushroom Farm, and the more you ask and wander the more you uncover how special this spot rely is. For a couple of tired cyclists, Mushroom Farm was the perfect pitstop: beautiful views, entertaining staff and a relaxing atmosphere. Not to mention healthy, filling and delicious refuelling food!