Malawi might be landlocked but it has not been denied its own ‘inland sea’. Lake Malawi is the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, the ninth largest by area and homes more fish species than any other. While these facts are impressive, it is only when you dig your toes into its shoreline and look out over the still water that you realise its true magic.
The lake’s deep blue water is fringed by beaches of golden sand, granite boulders and forested hills, which together make it incredibly beautiful. At its southern end is Lake Malawi National Park, which was given World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 1984 because of its fish diversity and density. It homes hundreds of colourful cichlid fish, nearly all of which are endemic to Lake Malawi and which have adapted in various interesting ways to this isolated ecosystem.
This makes Lake Malawi an excellent destination for diving and snorkelling, while the absence of currents ensures enjoyable swimming, sailing and kayaking. We have now visited Lake Malawi on three different trips with our family and have found it to be a wonderful beach holiday offering everything – and more – that many typical seafront beaches offer. Because of its rich fish harvest, Lake Malawi plays an important part in the economy. Fishing villages are scattered along the shore and the traditional industry and practices are also an attraction to visitors. David Livingstone named Lake Malawi "The Lake of Stars" due to lights from the fishermen’s lanterns at night resembling, from a distance, stars in the sky.
Access to the Lake is possible along much of its length but it is usually necessary to take a short detour off the main roads in order to reach the beach. Some properties are located out on the islands and can only be reached by boat or a short flight.
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