Described by explorer David Livingstone as ‘the lake of stars’, Lake Malawi’s pristine tropical waters host an abundance of colourful marine life. The idyllic golden beaches are an ideal setting for anyone seeking rest and relaxation or a base to enjoy one of the many exciting activities available on a tailor-made Lake Malawi holiday.
About Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi (also known as Lake Nyasa) is located between Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique and is the most southerly lake in Africa’s Rift Valley. At roughly 350 miles long and 47 miles wide, with a maximum depth of over 700 metres, it is Africa’s third largest lake and the ninth largest in the world. The lake’s aesthetic beauty, paradisiacal lakeside and island beaches, variety of activities and marine biodiversity make it one of the best places to visit in Malawi.
On the southern tip lies Lake Malawi National Park, the world’s first freshwater national park. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and is an important protected area for Lake Malawi’s biodiversity. The lake is home to more species of fish than any other lake including 700 types of cichlid, many of which are endemic to Lake Malawi. The cichlid population of the lake is popular with marine life enthusiasts because of the bright, tropical colours. Other wildlife found in or near Lake Malawi include hippo, Nile crocodile, monkey, antelope and a variety of birds such as kingfishers, cormorants and fish eagles.
Things to Do at Lake Malawi
Aesthetically the lake is simply stunning, with dramatic hillsides and idyllic beaches skirting its tropical waters providing a fantastic backdrop for a number of Lake Malawi activities, both on and off land. If you’re wondering what to do at Lake Malawi besides relaxing in the sun on your own secluded beach, we have you covered.
Popular Lake Malawi activities include snorkelling, scuba diving, boat trips, kayaking, sailing, and even water skiing. Back on dry land it’s all about horse riding excursions, visiting nearby markets, eating with the locals and hiking. If you’re visiting Lake Malawi in September make sure to check out the Lake of Stars Festival which runs annually and is one of the most popular events in the country’s calendar.
Best Places to Stay at Lake Malawi
There are some exceptional accommodation options on Lake Malawi’s shores and islands and whilst nowhere is ever particularly crowded, there are varying degrees of isolation. Cape Maclear is the best-known holiday destination on Lake Malawi. The beaches, from which local fisherman disembark daily to ply their trade, are lined with restaurants and bars. There is more of an atmosphere here than at other parts of Lake Malawi and much of the surrounding area forms part of the national park.
To the south of Cape Maclear is the Mangochi shoreline dotted with picturesque beaches, a variety of accommodation options and a great place for those looking for a combination of rest, relaxation, water sports and fun.
For those yearning for a greater degree of escapism, the island of Likoma is home to bustling local communities, markets, beautiful beaches and warm tropical waters. The island is characterised by its cathedral and is easily explored on foot. For complete isolation, the tiny and almost untouched Mumbo Island with hidden private beaches and patches of forest provides a complete eco-friendly escape from your everyday.
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Best Time to Visit Lake Malawi
Malawi’s drier winter months from April to November are the best period in which to visit. During this time the weather is ideal for relaxing on the beaches of Lake Malawi. Expect warm sunny days, and clear cooler nights.