Malawi’s magical Lake of Stars


Lazing on a palm-fringed sandy seaside, with sapphire water stretching out in entrance of you so far as the attention can see, you can be forgiven for pondering you have been on a tropical island someplace out within the ocean, moderately than on the shores of Lake Malawi, a whole bunch of miles from the closest coast.

The waters of Lake Malawi stretch throughout roughly one-fifth of Malawi making it one of many nation’s defining options. Mendacity within the western Rift Valley this is likely one of the African Nice Lakes. That is Africa’s third largest (and the world’s ninth largest) lake. It’s so huge in dimension that it borders three nations; Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. This unimaginable physique of water comprises 7% of the world’s out there floor freshwater and stretches over 365 miles lengthy from north to south, is about 52 miles large at its widest level and covers a complete floor space of 11,400 sq. miles.

Lake Malawi is an space of outstanding pure magnificence, with the rugged landscapes surrounding it contrasting with the remarkably clear waters of the lake – the undisputed drawcard of one of many friendliest nations in Africa.

What’s in a reputation…

The Portuguese dealer Candido José da Costa Cardoso was the primary European to go to the lake in 1846. In 1859, David Livingstone was the primary European to map Lake Malawi, he named it Lake Nyasa, in all probability unintentionally as Nyasa means lake within the native Yao language, so he’d successfully christened it ‘Lake Lake’. Livingstone additionally referred to the lake as Lake Nyinyesi Lake of Stars, in addition to Lake of Storms – Lake of Stars, was impressed by the fishermen’s lanterns bobbing on its waters, a nighttime exercise that continues right now, later, after experiencing an unpredictable and intensely violent gale he additionally referred to it because the Lake of Storms. In Tanzania the lake remains to be often called Lake Nyasa and in Mozambique as Lago Niassa. At independence, in 1964, each the lake and the nation took on the title Malawi.

The title Malawi is assumed to derive from the phrase Maravi. The folks of the Maravi Empire have been iron employees. Maravi is assumed to imply “Flames” and will have come from the sight of many kilns lighting up the evening sky. Mentioned to be from Chichewa malawi (“flames”), after the looks of the dawn over Lake Malawi; additionally presumably from Maravi, the title of an early Malawi tribe, or from an previous title for a lake

Anybody who has watched the solar dipping down into Lake Malawi on the finish of the day or the moon rise slowly over its waters, stood on its shores and peered within the distant mist or watched as early morning fishermen glide again to shore from their in a single day journeys, or just listened to the light lapping of its waves on the shore, can be drawn to return, time and again, to the lake with many names.

Africa’s grand aquarium

Globally famend for its biodiversity and residential to round 1,000 species of fish, greater than every other lake on the planet, Lake Malawi is a haven for underwater lovers and provides among the most unusual and numerous freshwater diving experiences on the planet. Cichlids are the star of Lake Malawi, with round 850 totally different species of those vibrant and curious fish discovered within the lake’s clear waters, a lot of that are endemic to the lake and might solely be discovered right here.

Malawi is thought for having among the greatest freshwater diving on the planet. The diving in Lake Malawi is appropriate for each skilled and newbie divers, with quite a lot of dive websites out there, among the hottest locations being Nkhata Bay and Cape Maclear. The visibility within the lake is often good, and the water temperature is heat, making it a snug setting for diving, or snorkelling in the event you want.

Some widespread dive websites in Lake Malawi embrace:

Mumbo Island: This small island is thought for its glorious dive websites. The island is surrounded by shallow coral gardens and is house to quite a lot of vibrant fish.

Cathedral: This dive website is situated within the southern a part of the lake and is thought for its giant underwater formations that resemble a cathedral. The positioning is house to a various array of fish and is widespread for evening diving.

Thumbi West Island: This island is situated within the northern a part of the lake and is thought for its clear waters and ample marine life. The island is surrounded by shallow coral gardens and is a good place for each snorkelling and diving.

What to do

It’s not stunning that most of the actions across the lake are usually water-based. Certainly, the lake provides great diving and snorkelling alternatives, and the nice and cozy, clear waters make swimming a pleasure. Different choices embrace crusing, kayaking, fishing, boat journeys, paddle boarding and waterskiing, spending time on the seaside, or just stress-free upon the deck of a catamaran because it sails the emerald waters. For individuals who want to remain on dry land, strolling and mountain climbing within the mountains, exploring tea estates, bicycling by way of villages or visiting a local people mission, can all be organized.

  1. Go to Lake Malawi Nationwide Park

Established in 1980 and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage website, Lake Malawi Nationwide Park is the world’s first freshwater nationwide park. Overlaying about 23,300 acres, the park encompasses the southern finish of the lake round Cape Maclear. It’s identified for its distinctive freshwater fish range and as a sanctuary for numerous wildlife.

  1. Eat some fish

Folks have been fishing in Lake Malawi for 1000’s of years and the lake offers native folks with a good portion of their eating regimen. Attempt the fish. Low-cost barbecue fish eating places may be discovered throughout the lake or you possibly can strive the Sunbird Livingstonia Seaside restaurant and grill the place native fish is a speciality.

  1. Go crusing

Lake Malawi is a wonderful palace to go crusing. As a result of it’s a lake, there are not any harmful currents or swells to fret about. The water is calm, the wind is light, and the climate is nice 12 months round. Many lodges supply crusing excursions or yacht leases. For essentially the most choices, head to Cape Maclear. Take a look at Danforth Retreat and Yachting or Chembe Eagles Nest for crusing excursions.

  1. Have some drinks at a seaside bar

Relax and watch the sundown over a few chilly cocktails or beers. It’s also possible to check out some native Malawi distilled spirits. Cool Runnings a lakeside guesthouse in Senga Bay is an effective spot to strive.

  1. Go fishing

For millennia, folks have fished Lake Malawi. The lake has some glorious fishing, most lodges will supply some fishing experiences or you possibly can lease gear close to the lake and check out your luck. For the perfect likelihood of catching something, chances are you’ll need to take into account hiring a neighborhood information to indicate you the perfect fishing spots. Ulisa Bay Lodge on Likoma Island supply fishing experiences with native fishermen.

  1. Watch the sundown

The sundown over Lake Malawi is likely one of the most spectacular you’ll ever see. Lake Malawi provides a singular sundown spot and Cape Maclear is likely one of the greatest locations to admire it – the solar turns right into a pink fireball whereas the sky modifications from orange to pink because the solar sinks decrease within the sky and eventually dips into the lake.


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The place to remain

There are solely a handful of luxurious lodges on the lake’s secluded seashores and small islands. For relaxed lakeside dwelling, the place you possibly can wander straight out of your room and onto the seaside, or laze in a hammock with a e-book, swim in gin-clear water and dine on scrumptious native fish, essentially the most accessible and widespread elements of Lake Malawi are its southern and central areas.

That is the place you’ll discover some nice lakeside lodging, starting from family-friendly seaside resorts like The Makokola Retreat to romantic island lodges like Mumbo Island and Kaya Mawa. Even in these extra visited areas, the lake is splendidly untouched by mass tourism; no crowds, only a stress-free seaside vacation in a extremely particular place.

Lodging in Lake Malawi ranges from beachside resorts to non-public island getaways – one thing for all tastes, budgets and journeys.

Likoma Island, about midway up Lake Malawi, lies near the Mozambican shore. In contrast to Mumbo, Likoma is inhabited and has a small city well-known for its magnificent cathedral which is, amazingly, about the identical dimension as England‘s well-known Winchester Cathedral. Completely positioned on a rocky outcrop between two stunning seashores, Kaya Mawa has 12 stone-and-thatch chalets that lead straight to the clear waters of the lake. Pure Likoma is a magical island getaway with handcrafted furnishings comprised of timber salvaged from previous wood fishing boats, and native supplies, with some trendy touches.

On the southern shore of Lake Malawi is Cape Maclear, presumably the best-known vacation vacation spot on the lake. Forest-covered hills tumble all the way down to turquoise waters, village fishermen paddle previous in dugout canoes, and the golden sand is lined with backpackers and seaside bars giving Cape Maclear a energetic environment. A lot of the locations of curiosity round Cape Maclear, together with its offshore islands, kind a part of the Lake Malawi Nationwide Park. Thumbi View Lodge provides finances beach-front lodging in Cape Maclear. Mumbo Island, a 30-minute boat switch from Cape Maclear (or for the adventurous traveller, a 2-hour paddle by canoe) is a laidback little island the place sandy trails meander by way of dappled forests and secret seashores lie hidden between granite boulders. Close by Pumulani Lodge is located on the westside of the Nankumba Peninsula within the South finish of Lake Malawi has its rooms constructed on the aspect of a hill, providing you with spectacular views of the lake.

South of Cape Maclear, the palm-fringed Mangochi Lakeshore is definitely accessible from each Lilongwe and Blantyre. Mangochi has the best focus of resorts and lodges on the lake but the seashores by no means really feel crowded and every lodge has a non-public stretch of sand dotted with thatched sunshades and welcoming solar beds. The highest place to remain on Mangochi Lakeshore is The Makokola Retreat which has thatched rooms in a ravishing backyard setting, an unlimited swimming pool, a improbable spa and a 9 gap golf course adjoining to the retreat.

A bit of little bit of historical past

In a tragic chapter of sub-Saharan historical past, for years 1000’s of captured slaves have been transported throughout the lake from the buying and selling centres of Karonga, Nkhotakota, and Salima. This was the shortest path to the island of Madagascar, then to Arabia and India.

Lake Malawi was additionally the scene of Britain’s first naval victory of the First World Battle, when the SS Gwendolen sank the German ship Hermann von Wissmann with a single cannon shot from 2,000 yards. On 16 August 1914 the British gunboat SS Gwendolen, commanded by a Captain Rhoades, heard that World Battle I had damaged out, and obtained orders to “sink, burn, or destroy” the German Empire’s solely gunboat on the lake, the Hermann von Wissmann, commanded by a Captain Berndt. The Gwendolen discovered the Hermann von Wissmann, in German East African territorial waters and disabled her with a single cannon shot – the primary naval battle of World Battle I

Lake of Stars Pageant

The Lake of Stars Pageant is an annual three-day worldwide competition held on the shores of Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa. The primary competition happened in 2004 and attracts over 4,000 attendees with musical acts drawn primarily from Africa and Europe in an extravaganza of worldwide, regional and native music, drama, dance, and poetry. (There can be no LOS competition in 2023 it’s been postponed to 2024).

When to go to

As a result of the temperatures are at all times nice, Lake Malawi is a wonderful place to go to year-round. Although in the event you had to decide on, the perfect time to go to might be within the dry season, Might – July. The temperatures can be cooler then. The moist season runs from October – March.

Journey inspiration

Malawi primarily based Crafted Africa have been planning and coordinating excursions to Malawi & Southern Africa for over 10 years and supply a improbable 11 day Lake of Stars Explorer itinerary that features The Makokola Retreat, Mumbo Island, Pumulani Lodge and Blue Zebra Lodge or an 8 day Lake Malawi Vacation exploring the stunning Pure Likoma and the luxurious Kaya Mawa each on Likoma Island.

Lake Malawi is greater than only a lake, it’s a vibrant ecosystem, a hub of native tradition, and a vital a part of the area’s wealthy heritage. Whether or not you’re a birder, an angler, a scuba diver, a hiker, a nature lover, or simply need to loosen up, Lake Malawi will enthral you with its mesmerizing magnificence. That is certainly one of Africa’s greatest stored journey secrets and techniques.



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