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Lake Malawi: Snorkelling, diving, sailing

Known as the ”˜calendar lake’ because it is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide, Lake Malawi is a wonderful place to come messing about by the water in the middle of Africa.  It’s so huge that you feel like you’re next to an ocean!   Whether you’re coming here simply for a break by the lake, or perhaps using it as a place to chill out after a safari in Malawi or Zambia, Lake Malawi offers the chance for excellent activities in crystal clear waters.

Diving in Lake Malawi

At its best, diving in Lake Malawi is like diving in a tropical fish tank with about 600+ species of colourful endemic cichlids.  You will see mouth brooders sucking in and releasing their young, the ”˜play dead fish’ attacking his prey, and the ”˜around the corner fish’ and the ”˜upside down fish’.
For much of the year, it’s clear, with visibility from about 15-25 metres, and it’s warm, with water temperatures ranging from about 23°-33°c.  There are no tides, no big currents to contend with, and no salt as it’s a freshwater lake.  This is a seriously good diving spot with varied sites from beginners to advanced divers, and you can do night dives here too.  In the Cape Maclear area alone there are over 20 dive sites to choose from.  You can dive all year, though the very best time is from about September to December. 

Snorkelling in the Lake

You don’t have to be a diver to enjoy the amazing sights in the waters of Lake Malawi.  You’ll find yourself swimming alongside a myriad of vividly-coloured, small tropical freshwater fish.  Many of these are endemic cichlids, and their variety of colour and shape and behaviour is fascinating to watch, and as the waters are most often very clear, you get great sightings.  You’ll also find that the water temperature is perfect for snorkelling, with an average of 25°c.  And then of course there is the scenery all around you.  This is a beautiful spot, and you’ll be sharing it with relatively few visitors, but quite a few fish eagles and other birds. 

Other watersports on Lake Malawi

Waterbabies really do have a long list of activities to enjoy here on Lake Malawi.  As well as the diving and snorkelling there is also: 
  • Hobie cat sailing
  • Yacht sailing
  • Dingy sailing
  • Fishing
  • Water-skiiing
  • Parasailing
  • Wake-boarding
  • Tube rides
  • Kayaking

The best places to stay for watersports at Lake Malawi

Some of the places we highly recommend to stay at for watersports at Lake Malawi include: 
Mumbo Island, Cape Maclear
Pumulani, southern lakeshore
Blue Zebra Island Lodge, Maleri Island
Kaya Mawa, Likoma Island
Nkwichi Lodge, Malawi
Norman Carr Cottage, southern lakeshore

holiday itineraries

Bush and Beach with RPS
Bush and Beach in Malawi

Spend a week at 2 different locations in Malawi, a Big 5 wildlife reserve and a lovely lodge set on a hillside above Lake Malawi - your very own bush and beach combination.

Nyika and Lake Malawi
Malawi Highlands and Islands

Experience the wildlife of Nkhotakota, the stunning mountains of the Nyika Plateau before heading for the beauty and relaxation of Lake Malawi.

Beach at Kaya Mawa in Lake Malawi
Zambia & Malawi: Safari & Beach

Safari in Zambia's superb South Luangwa then relax on an uninhabited island in Lake Malawi.

Anita Crowson
Amanda Marks
Guy Marks

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