Diving in Malawi

By Ashworth Africa, December 14, 2016

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Whilst Africa is more commonly associated with expansive plains and exotic animals grassing the savannah, there are hidden treasures that truly need to be explored. In this case: Lake Malawi.

Lake Malawi is reputed as being the best freshwater diving experience in the world. Its vast body of water – 22,488km2 to be precise, or a third of Malawi – with no current and swells makes it the perfect place to start off, or perfect, your scuba diving career. So, what is it that makes diving in Malawi so spectacular?

 

Crystal clear waters

Renowned for its aquarium-like visibility, Lake Malawi will marvel even the pickiest of beach aficionados with its amazingly clear waters.

There are few plants and little organic material (don’t expect any corals, just sandy bottoms) because of the water’s high alkalinity, which explains the lake’s incredible visibility. But don’t mistake the lack of corals for an unexciting dive! In fact, 30% of the lake is rocky and boasts some intriguing rock formations, which divers can admire from above and below.

 

Incredible biodiversity

It may surprise you to know that Lake Malawi’s biodiversity is off the charts; there are over 1000 species of freshwater fish, which is more than any other lake on Earth and more than what is found in Europe and North America, combined!

You may recognize the colourful fish as aquarium fish as Malawi exports its tropical fish all over the world. Most of these endemic fish belong to the cichlidae family and are referred to as nbuma by the locals.

If you happen to make it to Lake Malawi during breeding season, you are in for a treat! Many of the cichlids are mouth brooders meaning that fertilization takes place in the females’ mouth, where the babies grow. Mothers will spit them out in a safe nursery area and if they sense danger, will quickly scoop them back into their mouth and swim away – fascinating to watch.

It is to be noted that in the Lake of Stars – the moniker given by David Livingstone in 1859 – most of your marine encounters will be with friendly fish: no sharks, no crocodiles, no jellyfish or anything of that sort. The biggest creature that glides through the waters is the catfish.

 

One-stop destination for all levels

Because of its lack of swells and waves, unbelievable visibility, human-friendly marine life and easy dives, Lake Malawi is a great destination for getting your PADI and for those that are still getting accustomed to scuba diving. And who wouldn’t want to boast that they got their PADI in such a unique destination?

Experienced divers are also well catered to with wreck diving, night diving, deep water caves and discovering those unique rock formations.

 

Superb lodges

Though Lake Malawi is still somewhat off-the-beaten-track, there are some heavenly properties that make this lost paradise a great location to get away from it all.

On the Mozambican shores of the Lake, Nkwichi offers unparalleled tranquillity on a 4km Rift Valley coastline with only 8 bungalows.

On Likoma Island, lies Kaya Mawa, an utterly romantic hideaway lodge with spectacular views over the lake.

 

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