Crystal clear freshwater, home to friendly local fishermen and their families, a myriad of bird life along its lakeshore and more species of cichlids than anywhere else in the world, the lake connects all Malawians and becomes a central point to any traveller’s exploration of Malawi.
The lake is surrounded by Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, with Malawi having the largest share. The lake sits in the Rift Valley and is abutted by beautiful mountains and valleys, lowlands as well as farmlands and a few floodplains, but it is the golden beaches that entice visitors as well as swimming and snorkelling in the lake.
For those in search of something unique, more than just a beach holiday, then Lake Malawi is for you. It has incredible culture and Likoma Island is known for its extraordinary cathedral, St Peter’s which still holds services. There is a witch doctor, or sangoma and the children will run along laughing, overjoyed to see somebody new!
One can also take a live-aboard catamaran on Lake Malawi, sailing from island to island, fishing, spending your days dropping in and out of the water, swimming around small rocky islands. Visit fishing villages and buy fresh fruit from the locals as well as fish – fish caught and now ready for a barbeque on a deserted golden beach.
A host of water sports are on offer, including snorkelling, scuba diving, parasailing, water skiing, kayaking, laser and catamaran sailing. Because this is a freshwater lake, the water close to the shore tends to be calm and, swimming from the many beaches is like swimming in a vast swimming pool with neon coloured fish. Visibility in the water can be up to 30 metres at certain times of the year and part of the lake in the south is even conserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site and national park. The park has one of the best diving spots.
Kayaking and canoeing is a super sport that most people can do. From your lodge, request a picnic lunch, pack your sun cream and hat and paddle along the shore to find beaches to stop at, stretch your legs, wave to the locals, have a swim and snorkel. Rest during the heat of the day under a shady tree and have a well earned siesta before returning to your lodge in time for a Malawian gin and tonic before a sumptuous dinner. Sea going kayaks are generally used!
If your interest is sailing, then the Lake Malawi Sailing Marathon may interest you. This covers some 350 miles and travels from south to north. Otherwise. For something very different and for the adventurer in you, you could take a place on the Ilala ferry that plies the lake. Essentially this is really for the local people, but how better to see the length of the lake and meet the Malawians at the same time on a real adventure!
Images by courtesy of Malawi Tourism