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Majestic Lake Malawi
If you’re looking for a place that’s rich in biodiversity and beautiful to boot, then look no further than majestic Lake Malawi.
It’s an incredible place! In fact, Lake Malawi is home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world! This feature is a superb destination that attracts beachgoers and wildlife enthusiasts alike.
If you happen to fit in both of those categories (what an adventurer doesn’t?), then this may be your next dream destination.
African Travel Scene
Particularly, if you are new to the African travel scene, Lake Malawi is a great place to start. The infrastructure around the lake is a lot more complete than many other areas of Africa because it’s a comparatively big tourist destination.
Visitors can feel comfortable knowing that their needs will be taken care of and their general creature comforts will be satisfied. At the same time, there’s lots of local life and hubbub in the area, both culturally and where the wildlife is concerned. This means there’s plenty of exciting things to do and see.
African Travel Adventures
Even if you’re well-versed with African travel and tend to be more of the adventurous sort, you’ll find lots to love about Lake Malawi. You can just as easily backpack around the area for a shoestring as you can stay at a high-class resort. No matter what kind of traveler you are, you are sure to enjoy yourself.
Where Is Lake Malawi?
Despite the somewhat-misleading English name for this lake, it’s not entirely in the country of Malawi. Lake Malawi is actually between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Correspondingly, the lake is known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lake Niassa in Mozambique.
Lake Malawi is one of the African Great Lakes and happens to be the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest in Africa. It is also the second-deepest African lake. To put this into perspective, Lake Malawi is almost the size of Belgium!
Why Visit Lake Malawi?
There are many reasons to make Lake Malawi your next port of call. You will find it a wonderful place to experience local culture, flora, fauna, food, and relaxation on a beautiful beach.
First of all, the country of Malawi is often known as the “warm heart of Africa.” This isn’t only for the lovely weather that dominates the area throughout most of the year, but also because the people are very hospitable.
Friendly Travel To Africa
As you might expect, the infrastructure may be a bit lacking in parts of Malawi. But the people are helpful to foreigners and the crime rate is overall very low. This is a great place to dip your toes into the wonderful African continent and culture. Malawi is very friendly and easy to travel compared to many other places in Africa.
The Great Lake of Malawi
Another great thing about Lake Malawi, in particular, is that the waters are comparatively calm, which makes it a great place for different water sports, such as kayaking, boating, sailing, and water skiing. Snorkeling is also extremely popular due to the incredible diversity that can be seen under the surface of the lake.
Importance of Lake Malawi to its People
As you might expect, Lake Malawi is important to the local people for many reasons. The lake has been a key source of food for hundreds of years, and every day you’ll see fishermen out on the lake casting their nets and reels.
There are also many tourist resorts and hotels that the lake supports. Unsurprisingly a lot of the staff are from the surrounding villages. This means that you’ll be able to meet a lot of locals and perhaps even explore some of the local villages.
Wildlife at Lake Malawi
The wildlife is yet another reason to take the time to spend at Lake Malawi. As mentioned, the huge variety of fish to be seen here cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the world.
All three countries that border Lake Malawi act as a barrier of protection. This makes it possible to have many nature preserves in the area. The lake is renowned for its birdwatching as well.
The Famous Malawi Gin
Plus, if you spend enough time in Malawi, you’re sure to be in a position to sample the local brew: gin! Malawi, in general, is not known for its agriculture. The majority of spirits and beers and wines are imported from other countries, notably South Africa.
However, Malawi gin is famous in the area and has a definite tropical, unique tang to it. It’s one of the simple pleasures of Malawi you are sure to remember. You may even wish to take some home with you!
When Is the Best Time to Visit Lake Malawi?
Generally speaking, the best time to head to the country of Malawi is between early May to late October. This also means the highlands will be accessible to you if you are planning to spend more time around the country.
Avoid Malawi in January and February, as this is when the rainy season hits.
Not only can this be generally unpleasant, but the rains can wash out the roads and make travel impossible. If these months seem a bit opposite to you, remember that Malawi is in the southern hemisphere and thus the seasons are flipped.
Lovely Time to Visit Lake Malawi
For Lake Malawi in particular, November and December are particularly lovely. This is when vegetation in the area tends to thin out a bit and you can get the best glimpses of local wildlife.
During this time, the wildlife is more likely to congregate around the waterholes rather than go off hunting in the bush for food.
General Advice for Visiting Lake Malawi
Many people come and go from lovely Lake Malawi, and they’ve given some best practices for visiting the lake and the country of Malawi in general:
The local currency of Malawi is the Kwacha. Though if you are traveling with US dollars, you’ll also get some use out of these as many vendors at local markets should be keen to have them.
Make sure that you travel with lower denominations. In addition, make sure that you have some US dollars on hand when you leave the country, as there is a $30 USD departure tax when you leave the country, assuming you are flying out of the airport.
Although not a Malawi standard, tipping is a great offering. If you feel like tipping for a service, around 10 percent is more than sufficient. Of course, if you get top-notch service, feel free to tip as much as you would like.
Blazing African Sun
Malawi is very much a beach-centric country, and if you go during the recommended travel times you’ll want to dress accordingly. Bring lightweight clothing, and make sure that you also bring plenty of sunscreens, as the African sun can get to blazing at midday.
You also want to take care of mosquitos, as malaria is a reality in Malawi. Make sure that you have repellant with you, and wear long sleeves and pants at the beginning and the end of the day when the mosquitoes are most active.
If you are a citizen of the USA, Canada, the majority of Commonwealth nations, and the majority of European nations (not Switzerland), you do not need a visa of any sort to enter Malawi. However, remember the $30 for the departure tax.
If you do need a visa, these tend to last for 30 days for tourists and are not difficult to get, but they must get one before going to Malawi. They are not available upon arrival.
Malawi Official Language
The official language of Malawi is English, so you should have no problem getting around, particularly if you are sticking to the tourist areas. However, the dominant language of the country is by and far Chichewa, as over half of the population speaks it.
Generally speaking, foreigners are not going to need to learn Chichewa to make their way around the country. But, again, if you can manage basic greetings you are likely to make the locals very happy.
Highest Population Densities in Africa
Interestingly enough, almost a fifth of the country is comprised of Lake Malawi itself.
Malawi is a very small nation, with about 15 million people, but the small size of the country (and the space dominated by the lake) means that this country has one of the highest population densities in Africa. You’ll make lots of new friends!
Your Safe Destination
While Malawi is a very safe destination, on the whole, you want to take general precautions. It’s not a good idea to walk around waving expensive electronics or wearing valuable jewelry.
If you are going to experience any type of crime in Malawi, it is most likely to be petty theft, so keep your valuables to a minimum and keep an eye on them. Particularly make sure to watch your purses in the bazaar!
Visit Lake Malawi Today
Malawi is a wonderful, welcoming, and beautiful country that has in its borders a large part of one of the world’s most wonderful lakes.
If you’re looking for your next adventure, we can’t recommend Malawi, and by extension Lake Malawi, enough. Make sure to visit during the peak times to get the most out of your visit and avoid the rains.
Your next adventure awaits you!
Featured Image : CC BY 2.0, Frank Douwes via Flickr.com.