Formed 1-2 million years ago, Lake Malawi is the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest in Africa. It occupies around a fifth of the country’s total area and is one of the main reasons that many people visit Malawi.
Known locally as Lake Nyasa, the lake provides visitors with a clear, warm, freshwater experience that you are unlikely to have encountered elsewhere. At around 600km long and 85km wide, the lake is the country’s most prominent feature and with its seemingly endless palm fringed beaches it is easy to see why it attracts so many visitors.
The section of the lake around Cape Maclear has been designated as the world’s first freshwater National Park and is a World Heritage Site. The park includes a land area around the cape and bay as well as the Lake and some of the offshore islands.
One of the reasons that many marine enthusiasts visit Lake Malawi is for the cichlids. To see these fabulous freshwater fish in the wild instead of inside an aquarium is incredibly special. Lake Malawi contains a greater variety of indigenous species of cichlid than any other lake in the world – over 500 species have been identified here that have not been found anywhere else in the world. The cichlids of Lake Malawi are brightly coloured and patterned and are a truly sensational sight.
During the day activities are all focused around the Lake – kayaking, sailing, snorkeling and diving are just some of the options available. For those that just want to take it easy, you can journey out to one of the islands to just kick back and relax or wander around the streets of Cape Maclear itself.
© ecoTravel Africa 2011