The Complete Guide To Lake Malawi

Lying within the Western Rift Valley, Lake Malawi is one of the deepest lakes in the world. The property is an area of exceptional natural beauty with the rugged landscapes around it contrasting with the remarkably clear waters of the lake. The lake has more tropical fish than any lake in the world – 1,300 species – and the freshwater diving is great. The bio-diversity has been recognised by UNESCO, which has made Lake Malawi National Park, the world’s first freshwater park, a World Heritage Site. This park encompasses a wide variety of scenery, ranging from the wooded rocky mountains sloping down to the shores of the lake, to sandy coves and beaches. The lush vegetation is home to a range of wildlife including many species of bird and fish. Within the park, visitors can stay at lodges to enjoy traditional Malawian hospitality and fresh fish from the lake.

Lake Malawi, Mozambique

Lake Malawi, Mozambique coast. Photo by Moongateclimber

Lake Malawi is one of the main attractions in Malawi for local and international tourists because of its practically untouched, beautiful, natural, peaceful, golden beaches and islands. Some of Malawi’s best resorts are on Lake Malawi. They offer a wide range of activities like snorkeling, diving, boat riding, sailing, water skiing, camping, trips to the islands located along the lake, beach football and other water activities. If you decide to get into the water, you’ll probably find yourself surrounded by hundreds of different coloured fish which swim into your hands if you stay still. Despite the fact that swimmers and divers run the risk of catching Bilharzia, Lake Malawi is very safe – it is unlikely that you would need to know more than that. The biggest danger at Lake Malawi are mosquitoes. Take sensible precautions.

Lake Malawi has a wide variety of bird and fish sanctuaries which can be visited by arrangement with your resort, alternatively local fisherman also offer trips. An unforgettable experience is feeding the eagles, ask your tour guide if you can feed the eagles.

The beautiful Mumbo Island is located in the middle of the Lake Malawi National Park. Here, just 6 comfortable tents (including a family tent) are perched on rocks high above the water and tucked into the foliage. Each tent has a hot bucket shower and ‘eco-loo’, its own shaded view-deck and hammock. The camp is built out of timber, thatch and canvas, and has a Robinson Crusoe feel, creating a rustic getaway with beautiful views over the lake. There are many exciting dive sites nearby.
Mumbo Island is only 1 km in diameter and has never been populated so it remains in a pristine, natural state. Kayak Africa run Mumbo as an entirely off grid, green camp so that it remains as unspoilt and perfect as it has been forever.

Lake Malawi, Mozambique

Lake Malawi. Photo by Ismail Mia

The largest portion of the area of the lake is in Malawi. However, about a quarter of the area belongs to Mozambique. This area includes the waters surrounding the Malawian islets of Likoma and Chizumulu, which are this lake’s only two inhabited islets. The islet of Likoma is dominated by a large stone and brick Anglican cathedral that was built by missionaries in the early 20th century. It has several lovely beaches with two excellent eco-friendly resorts and some budget accommodation as well. Likoma is a very peaceful spot and there are just a few cars on the island. You can take some nice walks inland, or kayak around the island. A notable feature of both islets is their significant number of baobab trees. The islets support a population of several thousand people, who in addition to being fishermen, grow plants such as cassavas, bananas, and mangoes for food.


Lake Malawi has a gorgeous combination of hot sunshine and cool breeze, ideal for a great beach holiday. The best time to visit Lake Malawi is during the dry season, which runs from the beginning of May through to the end of November. Expect nights to get fairly cool during this period with temperatures dropping down towards 47°F (8°C). Rest assured that daytime temperatures will warm up with highs getting up to 83°F (28°C).

Besides luxury accommodation, Lake Malawi offers plenty of budget accommodation since it’s been a favorite backpacker destination for decades now. The southern lake shore is the most popular area of the lake, while the northern shore is much less developed. Less populated in general, the North is also chillier during the cooler dry season (June – August), but perfect when it’s hot.

Large-scale transport between villages on the shores of Lake Malawi, and also between the lakeshore and the inhabited islets, is provided by steamboats or motor ships on the lake, or else by air transport.

Nkhata Bay, Lake Malawi

Nkhata Bay, Lake Malawi. Photo by Avi Alpert

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