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My stay at The Mushroom Farm Eco-Lodge, Malawi

Updated: Jun 11

When anyone starts planning travel to Malawi, they are probably going to see or hear the name 'Mushroom Farm' pop up a few times.

For me, as a seasoned traveller who has gotten scouring travel blogs down to an art form, I certainly was starting to see a pattern. Mushroom Farm Eco-Lodge is practically fabled in the southern Africa backpacking community, and I planned my route across Malawi with them in mind.

Joe had his other reasons for visiting Malawi, and if you've heard of something called 'Malawi Gold' you can have a good guess where his interest lies, and no, it's not Tea.

So there we were crossing by land from Tanzania to Malawi in this sweltering October heat, excited to get up the mountain to Livingstonia, a small Malawian town where Mushroom Farm calls home.

It was quite serendipitous that Mushroom Farm was hosting their annual permaculture training at the time of our trip to Malawi, and that being something we were keen to learn, we joined the course and extended our stay at Mushroom Farm from 5 days to 11. Mushroom Farm absolutely lived up to its glittering reputation, and here's how it went...

The entrance to Mushroom Farm Eco-lodge, Malawi
Mushroom Farm Eco-Lodge, Malawi




Getting to Mushroom Farm - Malawi

Getting to Mushroom Farm was fairly straightforward if you don't mind being crammed into a minibus for an extended period! We were quite used to this, having travelled via public transport from Kenya to Malawi through Tanzania thus far, so inhaling sweat and dust whilst in a stress position was something my partner Joe and I were quite accustomed to.

From the Songwe Border Post, we grabbed a shared taxi to Karonga (1 hour, 3000mwk), followed by a minibus from Karonga to Chitimbe (2 hours, 4000mwk) and finally jumped on the back of a moto-taxi up the hill to Mushroom Farm (30 minutes, 7000mwk).

These prices are meant as a guideline only, Malawi is currently in a protracted fuel shortage and often drivers are forced to buy petrol on the black market, meaning an inflated price for us passengers.

Of course, if you have the means, you can self-drive or make this journey in a private vehicle, however being 14 months into a backpacking trip around the world, we are in the position where every penny counts.

Check out my backpackers guide to Malawi for more details on getting around, currency, and a suggested itinerary.

I Dream of Mangoes crossing the border from Tanzania to Malawi
Crossing the Border from Tanzania to Malawi


Not sure what to pack for your travels in Malawi? Check out my article:


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Staying at Mushroom Farm - Malawi

Accommodation at Mushroom Farm varies from self-camping on cute ledges by the cliff to stylish private A-Frames or rustic wooden cottages. The owners, Katlyn and Paul, are focused on Mushroom Farm being accessible to people of all budgets - and told us that they once hosted a communal dinner with ambassadors, backpackers, and locals alike.

The beauty of such an inclusive idea like this is that you get a real mish-mash of people, all sharing dinners, conversation and ideas, who perhaps may never have crossed paths otherwise.

We chose to self-camp, which was 6000mwk (£4) per person per night, and in hindsight, it's actually the lowest price we paid for accommodation in all of Malawi.

The tent we use is the Robens Boulder 3 - and we love it! It is super easy to assemble, reliable for all weather, and only weighs 3kg!

We also chose to prepare our own coffee and some of our own meals and never felt judged by the staff for not spending more, which has not been the case with many other lodges we have stayed at in Africa.

Camping on the cliffs at Mushroom Farm, overlooking Lake Malawi
Camping in the mountains overlooking Lake Malawi

The grounds of Mushroom Farm are beautiful! In design and practicality, it feels like every detail has been thought of, and depending on your motivation there are heaps of activities to enjoy, or plenty of different social spaces to relax in.

We often split our time between the Library and Games Room, the Yoga Deck, perched up high to catch the breeze, and the Cafe, where we sampled homemade Kombucha and cakes.


Eating at Mushroom Farm - Malawi

If you have read my blog before, you'll know that food is a huge part of my travel agenda. In between preparing our own simple meals on the fire, we tried lots of dishes from the menu. Everything is delicious, vegetarian and organic, and a lot of the produce comes from Mushroom Farm's on-site permaculture garden - more about that later.

Whilst breakfast and lunch are A La Carte, dinner is served communally and on a rotating menu. I really loved this concept, where guests are encouraged to mingle and swap stories, rather than staying in their own bubbles.

Mushroom Farm's on site restaurant with a cracking view!
Mushroom Farm's on site restaurant


FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE for Malawi, do what I do and have a browse on Travel Supermarket - choosing a cheap policy with a high Defaqto rating.


Things to do at Mushroom Farm - Malawi

If you're interested in local excursions, you can sign up on their activity board the day before, and 100% of the money goes to the local guides. It's really important to Katlyn and Paul to use Mushroom Farm to empower and give back to the local community, and from a visitor's perspective you can really see this in action.

Some activities we did were; a tour of the local coffee plantation, a hike to a nearby waterfall, hanging out with the pigs and indulging in full body massages!

Some other things on offer included soaking in a cliff-side bath - a wood-carving class, a visit to the local handmade jewellery workshop and a 3-day trek to the stunning Nyika Plateau. It's worth mentioning that all of these activities were very good value for money, there is no price-hiking at Mushroom Farm.


Other things to mention about Mushroom Farm

The amenities at Mushroom Farm are also very streamlined, with hot showers, filtered drinking water on tap straight from the local spring, and the most flawlessly designed ecological toilets I have ever seen.

I particularly enjoyed my walk around the grounds with Paul, where he showed me how every aspect of Mushroom Farm had been designed with sustainability in mind, and I saw how each part of the system, whether it be grey-water or pig-poop, had been used again in another way.

I would like to also mention the service here, as being a hospitality professional this is something I always pick up on, almost to the point of being hyper-critical. Every single staff member at Mushroom Farm clearly understood hospitality and made us feel welcome and comfortable.

Most importantly, they obviously like working there. If I am being brutally honest, this is not something you always witness in white-owned, locally-staffed businesses in Africa. I think it goes to show that Katlyn and Paul's ethos that Mushroom Farm is for the community is actually a work in practice. Everything about Mushroom Farm just feels good.

Communal dinners at Mushroom Farm, Malawi
Communal dinners at Mushroom Farm


Permaculture at Mushroom Farm

After 6 days of enjoying everything that Mushroom Farm had to offer, we started our permaculture course. Theory was taught on the yoga deck, and practical lessons allowed us to get our hands dirty in the garden. I was very surprised that Joe and I were the only Mzungus - in fact, the other 6 students were all gardeners from Malawi. Paul, Katlyn, and the incredibly knowledgeable local teacher Sutalani delivered the course in a mixture of English, Tombuka, and Chichewa.

The course was fantastically put together, not only did I learn so much about permaculture for my own future in farming, but the thought of my fellow students going back to their homes across Malawi and teaching their communities about the benefits of permaculture was a very touching concept.

Professor Sutalani teaching a practical permaculture session
Mushroom Farm's Permaculture Course in Action


Saying Goodbye to Mushroom Farm - Malawi

After 11 wonderful days at Mushroom Farm Eco-Lodge, we departed with a bitter-sweet feeling; excited to once again hit the road, but sad to leave a place that felt so much like home.

The view of beautiful Lake Malawi from Mushroom Farm
The beautiful Lake Malawi


Thank you for reading my post about my stay at The Mushroom Farm Eco-Lodge in North Malawi. If you enjoyed the read, please consider subscribing to my blog where I post articles every 1-2 weeks about mine and Joe's current travels

For more Africa travel inspiration, check out my post: My time with the Maasai.

Happy Travels




I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated sites. That being said, I only link to products I use and love.

2 comentarios

Amazing !!!

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J Alexander
J Alexander
25 oct 2023

Wow, looks like such an inspiring place

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