Lake Malawi

(Malawi, MW, South-East Africa)

Lake Malawi coastal viewAlso going by the name of Lake Nyasa, Lake Malawi is one of the biggest tourist magnets in this country, offering a huge wealth of lakeside activities and aquatic attractions. This is an 'African Great Lake' and is located within the Great Rift Valley area. In Africa, this ranks as the third-biggest lake, while in the world, it is actually the eighth, measuring almost 580 km / 360 miles in length by some 75 km / 47 miles at its widest section.

Fed by the Ruhuhu River, Lake Malawi is a gem of a place and quite rightly maintains its top spot on the country's list of most popular attractions. This vast inland sea of clear water is perfect for a swim among the fishes, a spot of fishing, a chance to enjoy your favourite water sport, or a luxury cruise.

Picture of the Ilala ferry on Lake Malawi

General Information

The tropical waters of the lake are teeming with brightly coloured fish, and there are more species here than in any other lake on the planet.

Many people come here each year to snorkel or scuba dive, enjoying underwater views of the intensely coloured fish that live here, which often congregate around the piles of rocks.

Image of the Cape Maclear fishing villageIn total, Lake Malawi is home to more than 800 different types of cichlids alone, and even though these fish are often so different in their appearance, they all evolved form a single ancestor, stranded here literally thousands of years ago. Malawi cichlids are known as 'mbuna' (rock dwellers) and are often intense blues and yellows.

Those lucky enough to enjoy a scuba diving expedition in Lake Malawi may be surprised when they find that the base of the lake appears rather like a moonscape, with large craters measuring up to 2 metres / 6.5 feet in diameter. These unusual structures have actually been made by the dominant male Malawi cichlids and serve as their rather grand courtship arenas.

Photo of Malawi lakeside dining and camping siteWhen watching the cichlids closely, you may even observe one protectively brooding its babies in its mouth, 'spitting' them out when all it safe and then 'sucking' them back in again when potential danger rears its head.

The lake's beautiful white sandy beaches are great for relaxing. Surrounding the lake are areas of marshland and wetland in which the eagle-eyed may spot a myriad of species of flora and fauna. Popular lakeside resorts include Senga Bay.