Located within the Western Rift Valley, Lake Malawi is the third biggest and second deepest lake in the continent, as well as the ninth largest in the world. The Lake is one of the African Great Lakes, and the southernmost lake in the East African Rift system, situated between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The Lake is said to be home to more fish species than any other body of freshwater, including over 1000 species of cichlids, and was officially announced a reserve by the Mozambican Government in June, 2011.
Lake Malawi was discovered by explorer David Livingstone more than 150 years back, and though it is completely landlocked, the country is not denied an ocean. The Lake is vast and fringed by sun-kissed shores, making it a picturesque paradise. The sparkling water invites visitors to partake in a range of optional water sport activities, whilst the warm sand attracts those who wish to spend some time sunbathing or indulging in a good book while catching some welcome beams of sunlight.
The Lake is between 560 to 580 kilometres in length, and around 75 kilometres in width at its widest point. In total, the water of the Lake covers an area of approximately 29,600 square kilometres, and has a maximum depth of an astonishing 706 metres. The biggest river that feeds the lake is the Ruhuhu River, and at the southern end of Lake Malawi lies an outlet that runs into Mozambique’s enormous Zambezi River.
Due to the rich fish harvest in the region, Lake Malawi plays a crucial role in supporting the economy. Fishing villages are peppered along the coast and the traditional industry and practices tend to draw the attention of tourists. In spite of the Lake’s popularity, there are still long stretches of unspoiled golden sand along the lakeshore, lapped by glimmering waters. Kayaking, sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving and water skiing are but a few of the activities in which to participate here. Tours by lake vary from the renowned motor vessel, the Ilala, to sailing in a sea-going yacht. Cruises into the upper reaches of the Great Shire River are also available, and will provide you with a spectacular experience with mother nature.
Lake Malawi has acted as a main food source to its surrounding wildlife for millennia. This is due to the fact that the Lake’s water is rich in fish, such as the chambo. Some of the fish that are caught are exported from Malawi, but the wild fish population is increasingly endangered as a result of overfishing and water pollution.
The painted hunting dog was said to be extinct in Malawi, but recent research in Kasungu National Park has discovered a pack of 17 painted dogs. A project named Carnivore Conservation Malawi was established by researcher Duncan Yearly, and is currently attempting to raise awareness and funding to further the safeguarding of these threatened Malawi mammals. It is believed that these dogs seasonally travel across the border from Malawi into Zambia to hunt within the South Luangwa Valley. Other wildlife to be seen in and around Lake Malawi include crocodiles, hippos, monkeys, and a great concentration of African fish eagles that prey on the fish in the Lake. If paying a visit to the area, be sure to make a stopover at this beautiful natural landmark.