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Land of the Lake

Lake Malawi is not only exceptionally beautiful but also offers a far wider variety of activities than any other part of the country, both in the water and on shore — from diving and snorkelling to birding and visiting fishing villages with a local guide. Sophie Ibbotson tells you everything you need to know about this varied holiday destination

The water stretched to the horizon and beyond. I went to ask my guide, Black, if it was tidal, and then stopped myself. Contrary to how it looks, Lake Malawi is not a sea or an ocean. This African Great Lake — the second deepest in Africa — covers almost a quarter of Malawi’s land area, making it one of the most watery nations in the world. The liquid that fiows through its rivers are the lifeblood of the country’s farmlands and villages, and the fishermen who sail their boats on the lake keep the local economy afioat.

But increasingly, Lake Malawi — ofien referred to as the Lake of Stars for the refiections of lanterns glittering on the surface afier dark — is the hub of Malawi’s nascent tourism industry. Wildlife safaris are less developed here than elsewhere in southern Africa, not least because of the pressure the human population density puts on the national parks, but Malawi has something its neighbours don’t: whitesand beaches, protected coves and superb opportunities for watersports. Malawi might be hundreds of kilometres from the Indian Ocean, but Lake Malawi is substantial enough in size and depth that it really does feel like an inland sea.

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About Travel Africa

A wildlife lover's guide to Kenya • How to plan the ideal holiday to Zimbabwe • 10 Reasons to take your kids on safari • In Mandela's footsteps • Great bush dining: how they do it • Uganda, for the love of birds • Surprising Liberia • Southern Namibia • Lake Malawi • Awesome Okavango portfolio • Ethiopia's highlights... and much more!