Lake Malawi National Park is located at Lake Malawi’s southern end. The national park was established with the aim of protecting the fish and aquatic habitat of the region, the only one of its kind in the country.
Besides the water-bodies, a significant portion of the Lake Malawi National Park also encompasses land including several islands in Lake Malawi.
The Lake Malawi National Park has a significant population of baboons. The park is also famous for hosting the graves of several early Christian missionaries and the area was also visited and explored by the famous Congregationalist pioneer medical missionary and explorer, Dr. David Livingstone.
Due to the high diversity of endemic fishes in the park, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
Lake Malawi offers great yachting adventures through Danforth Yachting, which has named its fleet of boats after characters in ‘The Lion King’. For visitors wishing to experience the lake, the ‘Mufasa’ – the only live-aboard yacht on Lake Malawi – is highly recommended.
Dining experiences on the yacht include dishes prepared by local and international chefs using only fresh local ingredients.
Alfresco dining is available for families. Lake Malawi offers a freshwater scuba diving experience like no other. Danforth Yachting has a fully equipped PADI resort scuba diving centre.
Divers can enjoy the warm, clear, fresh water with no tides or currents or salt water and a chance to see the brightly coloured tropical fish known as cichlids. Dive spots are easily accessible and with PADI certified scuba divers on hand, the experience is quite magical.
In addition to diving, Lake Malawi offers kayaking, sailing in Laser dinghies, Hobie Cat sailing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, tube rides, mountain biking, hikes and nature walks in the hills around the national park.
A ferry trip across Lake Malawi is highly recommended. This can be experienced on board the 620 tonne ‘Ilala’, which has recently been fitted with new engines. The ‘Ilala’ has a passenger capacity of 400 and provides an essential means of travel both for tourists and for local people, who transport goods for trading.
The ‘Ilala’ goes to the Mozambican territory of Likoma Island as well as to Ulisa Bay Lodge, Kaya Mawa and Mango Drift.
The ferry operates on a weekly schedule between Chipoka and Chilumba, with nine other stops en route including Nkhotakota, Nkhata Bay, Likoma Island and Metangula on the Mozambique shore. It travels northbound Saturday to Monday and southbound Tuesday to Thursday.
Accommodation on board the ‘Ilala’ is charming, with five double cabins (one en-suite) and two single cabins on the upper decks for tourists.
The top deck above the cabins is reserved for cabin-class passengers except when in port. There is a spacious recreation area with a covered bar.
Salima, on the shore of Lake Malawi, is the site of one of the region’s largest fish farms, operated by Stuart M. Grant Ltd, which focuses on the professional fishing and transport of cichlids both locally and internationally.
The lake contains hundreds of species of fish which are in demand by enthusiasts around the world. The cichlids are collected by professional local divers and the fishing sites are carefully monitored to ensure there is no over fishing or destruction of the aquatic ecosystem.
The fish farm also reintroduces cichlids on the brink of extinction through various breeding projects carried out on the farm.
Working closely with the Department of Fisheries, the company releases the fingerlings back into the lake. More and more tourists have shown an interest in close interaction with the cichlids.
It was for this reason that Red Zebra Tours was born, offering picnic and hiking excursions and lake safaris as well as accommodation at the Red Zebra Lodge with its views of Lake Malawi.