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Lake Malawi

Taking up a huge part of this land-locked country, Lake Malawi is of major importance to the country's population with many living on the shores and making a living from fishing. Part of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Malawi is flanked by hills inland towards the Nyika Plateau and has some attractive sandy beaches as well as interesting villages to explore.

It was previously known as Lake Nyasa from colonial times. David Livingstone was the first European to record visiting the lake in 1859 and Malawi (Nyasaland) was subsequently claimed by the British Protectorate shortly afterwards.

Sometimes known as the calendar lake, Lake Malawi is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide at the widest point. It is more like an ocean at windy times of the year with huge waves appearing during storms that make it hard to believe it's an inland lake, not an ocean! The waters mainly belong to Malawi and the borders with Tanzania and Mozambique are sometimes in dispute.

Home to hundreds of colourful freshwater fish including many endangered cichlid species, the lake is popular for diving and snorkelling, particularly around Likoma Island and in the south of the lake in the Lake Malawi National Park at Cape Maclear.

Getting around the lake for the local community and cargo (and some adventurous tourists!) is the Ilala, a huge boat which services the lake side villages from Monkey Bay in the south to Karonga in the north, including Likoma Island towards the Mozambique border.

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Lake Malawi accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT +2 hours

Flight time:

International flights to Malawi are either with Kenya Airways (via Nairobi) or South African Airways (via Johannesburg) then to Lilongwe or Blantyre.

Language: English is the official language but not widely used in rural areas. Chichewa is commonly used.


Not needed for most nationalities but check with your embassy. You need a Mozambique visa for Nkwichi Lodge.


No vaccinations are compulsory but some are recommended. Yellow Fever certificate required for Nkwichi Lodge (Mozambique). See your GP for advice.

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