Depending on where you stand, you may hear people call it by different names – Lake Malawi in Malawi, Lake Nyasa in Tanzania, or Lago Niassa in Mozambique.
This African great lake is located between Mozambique, Tanzania, and Malawi. For Malawi, which is landlocked, this is its “inland sea”.
A Lake & It’s Beaches
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According to Africa Geographic, Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and the ninth largest in the world. It is nicknamed the “the calendar lake” because of its approximate dimensions, 365 miles north to the south and 52 miles wide. People can journey the lake by motor vessel, the Ilala, or an ocean-going yacht.
The exceptionally clear freshwater lake is described as having the feel of a sea, with waves as high as two meters, making it perfect for water sports such as kayaking, sailing, scuba diving and water skiing.
Snorkelling is also popular, and the lake’s large diversity of fish, from thousands of different species including cichlids, Malawi eye biters, red zebras and many more, make it perfect for a lake dive.
Rich fish harvest plays an important part in the local economy, and as such, fishing villages scattered along the Lake’s shore also attract visitors. Parts of the lakeshore, like Monkey Bay, are crowded with settlements, but there are long stretches of uninhabited shore and laps of golden sand beaches.
Finally, the mountain views are spectacular. According to Britannica, the Livingstone Mountains to the east and the Nyika Plateau and Viphya Mountains to the west fall precipitously down to the lakeshore.
Other attractions from and around the lake are: Likoma Island, a mission headquarters and site of an imposing Anglican cathedral (completed 1911), the size of Winchester’s which is halfway up the lake; Lake Malawi National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a veritable aquarium of tropical fish; historic game reserve port town of Nkhotakota and the sugar estate town of Dwangwa.
Karonga, an important archaeological center where pre-historic tools and remains of hominids seem to suggest that the area could be the cradle of humankind; and Manda Wilderness, is a 120,000-hectare community of unspoiled wilderness and white sand beaches.
Malawi’s colonial history with Germany and Britain has fueled occasional disputes about lake borders between Tanzania and Malawi, and with Mozambique (but this time between Britain and Portugal).
The lake was reported by a missionary Portuguese explorer, Caspar Boccaro in 1616 and sources say the lake was “discovered” by the missionary-explorer Dr David Livingstone just over 150 years ago. I am sure inhabitants in the area had long known of its existence before European exploration or discovery.
Check out these stunning pictures of the lodges, beaches, and lake.