Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa amongst a host of other names, is a beautiful lake that is probably the main setting of some marine biologists’ dreams every night. This lake is supposed to be the home of more fish species than that of any other body of freshwater on Earth, which isn’t too surprising once you hear the fact that Lake Malawi is also the eighth largest lake in the world. Nestled in the Great Rift Valley system of East Africa, it is also Africa’s third largest lake.
People have depended for over a thousand years for food from the bountiful wildlife that resides in Lake Malawi, home of over a thousand species of cichlids, and provider of tasty fish such as kampango, a catfish. Many species of fish have evolved from the waters of Lake Malawi, most notably cichlids, and various other animals. Naturally, at least a few extremely exotic species of fish have evolved from these waters, such as the rare Mbuna fish, highly sought after by avid aquarists due to its brilliant coloring. As a result, the lake is not only a huge source of food, but also the source of work for thousands of Malawian fishermen, net and canoe manufacturers, and fish traders. Unfortunately, overfishing and water pollution threatens the potential future of the wildlife here.
Lake Malawi is an attractive tourist location, with most of its tourists visiting during the dry season, which lasts from April to November. The wet season, on the other hand, lasts from December to March. Because the wet season is preceded by a very hot and humid period between November and December, the dry season is the most ideal season for visiting Lake Malawi.
The Malawian government has taken great strides in ensuring that the lake does not become too commercialized or overcrowded, and they have done a good job so far. The northern portion of the lake is largely untouched by tourists, and therefore lies in a pristine, unspoiled condition. The beaches are almost never crowded. One of the main forms of human activity you will see at Lake Malawi will probably be that of the fish traders, who vend thousands upon thousands of silver-colored fish that are dried, smoked, and sold in huts.
Most of the permanent settlements, hotels, and campsites, however, can only be found on the southern portion of the lake. There, one can snorkel, dive, sail, and do pretty much any sort of fun recreational activity that can be done on any major beach. The lake itself possesses a beautifully warm temperature of 74 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Before anyone actually visits Lake Malawi, they should know that malaria is a concern here, so tourists should try their best to minimize mosquito bites by using insect repellents, and trying to sleep in mosquito net-treated edifices. Never let your guard down against the mosquitoes.
In conclusion, Lake Malawi has experienced a ton of historical legacies, ranging from being the host of a naval battle between the British and the Germans, to being the evolutionary site of an eclectic range of over 450 species of freshwater tropic fish. Its sheer size alone is enough to suggest that it still holds its fair share of untold mysteries that have yet to be discovered.