There is so much more to Malawi than just its lake… this we know for sure. But my, oh my, what an exquisite lake it is.
Lake Malawi was “discovered” by the missionary-explorer Dr David Livingstone just over 150 years ago. David Livingstone famously named Lake Malawi “The Lake of Stars” and for good reason. During the day the light dances across the deep blue water and once the sun has set the stars twinkle brightly both in the sky but also on the lake as the fishermen light up their hurricane lamps for their night on the lake.
Lake Malawi has been called, “the jewel in the crown of the country’s tourist attractions”. It is the third largest lake in Africa and the ninth largest in the world. Its approximate dimensions are 365 miles north to south and 52 miles broad, hence the nickname: “the calendar lake”. The Lake, in the north, is really deep: 2300 ft/700 m, plunging well below sea level. This is proof of the enormity of the natural faulting of the Great Rift Valley, which is the origin of the Lake. The width of the lake’s shores vary from nothing to over 25 kilometres (16 miles) as the edge of the Rift Valley rises steeply in places and more gently in others.
Lake Malawi is also called Nyasa (meaning “lake”). It is fed by 14 perennial rivers, the largest being the Ruhuhu and its only outlet is the Shire River, a tributary of the Zambezi. Although totally landlocked, Malawi can boast about Lake Malawi – its “inland sea”. This vast body of freshwater, fringed by beaches of gold sand, is scenic and also a water sport haven for those looking for something more than just sun, sand and swimming.
It has a huge diversity of fish in its big blueness. There are thousands of different species including cichlids, Malawi eye biters, red zebras and many more. Its rich fish harvest plays an important part in the country’s economy. Fishing villages are scattered along the Lake’s shore and the traditional industry and practices attract visitors. Access to the lake is possible along much of its length but it is usually necessary to take a short detour off the main roads to reach the beach.
Pumulani Lodge lies on the southern shores of Lake Malawi, within the World Heritage site that is Lake Malawi National Park. Lounging comfortably on the hillside next to the water it is a place of blue water views and bliss. The lakeside lifestyle is laid-back and dreamy. Days are a happy haze of short beach strolls, snorkelling, kayaking, diving, dhow boat cruises and cocktails, Malawi-style. It’s all about getting your toes in the sand and water, with a Malawi gin & tonic in hand at the end of it all.