Insights A wild paradise adventure at Blue Zebra Island Lodge, Malawi
Jul 21, 2021   Sungeni R. Karonga

A wild paradise adventure at Blue Zebra Island Lodge, Malawi

At the center of Malawi‘s ‘warm heart’ lies a wild paradise at Blue Zebra Island Lodge. The lodge is situated on Nankoma Island in Lake Malawi National Park. Lake Malawi has the world’s first freshwater park, with boundaries established in 1980 under the Malawian National Parks and Wildlife Act. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1984, recognizing the significance of Cichlid fish as an example of biological evolution. Thus, Blue Zebra Island Lodge is a conservation driven lodge.

Blue Zebra is owned by two couples of the Giannakis family: Dimitri and Mariangeles as well as Chris and Sylvia. Dimitri and Chris Giannakis are twin brothers, descendants of the Yiannakis family who have been in Malawi since the 1920s. In 2011, they acquired the wildlife concession for the Marelli Islands, operating under Waterlands Ltd. because The Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) introduced wildlife concessions for designated areas across Malawi as means to achieving conservation through sustainable wildlife resource utilization. Strategic tourism management plans were designed to aid protection of various parks.


Named after a colourful Cichlid, Blue Zebra officially opened to guests in October 2013 after a long process of intricate design and construction to create an unobtrusive and eco-friendly lodge on the wild island. The team at Blue Zebra continuously works with the DNPW to preserve habitats of the Marelli Archipelago, with a focus on enabling natural breeding grounds for many species of fish and other wildlife, such as otters, various reptiles and birds. The islands are a safe haven and ideal habitat for a few duiker (known as “Gwape” in Chichewa), released on Nankoma Island in 2020 and 2021, following rehabilitation at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, as well as three bushbuck relocated from a nearby park.


Blue Zebra itself is wondrous, offering the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation in a tranquil, private setting. One can reconnect with nature while enjoying the luxuries of the lodge, such as an island spa with Lake views. Exploring nature trails on Nankoma and Maleri islands is a highlight, walking among ancient fig-trees and giant baobab trees, bird-watching and admiring breathtaking views. Other activities include kayaking, snorkeling, seasonal scuba and cruises.

PLCnetwork believes private landowners and eco-lodge teams are at the forefront of enhancing conservation outcomes; and Blue Zebra is an excellent example of this. Strict conservation measures can go hand in hand with nature-based luxury tourism adventures. Through this collaboration, PLCnetwork aims to increase the publicity and implementation success for Blue Zebra's many innovative projects such as training of park scouts, establishing a natural marine breeding protection zone and camera monitoring of small antelope on the island.


Blue Zebra Island Lodge channels: Facebook & Instagram & LinkedIn 

Images provided.