Malawi is landlocked. It is a long and narrow country, covering more than 1000 km from north to south. Lake Malawi, nearly 600 km long and up to 80 km wide, dominates the countryside. The Rift Valley is an ancient geological formation with fertile soils. Malawi’s scenery is diverse and the habitats are varied. At its lowest point, the country is only about 35m above sea yet the nearest coastline is nearly 300km away. Its highest point, Mount Mulanje is 140 km away and over 3000m above sea level. Between these altitude extremes, there are rolling hills, plateaus, cool misty mountains and much varied scenery. Each of the many diverse habitats is protected within Malawi’s eleven national parks and game reserves. Everything, from Elephants to orchids, is protected.
Today, Malawi is a wonderful, warm, friendly and welcoming country that offers visitors great scenery, interesting parks and some of the friendliest villagers in all of Africa.
With its spectacular sunrises, unspoiled scenery and crystal clear waters; Lake Malawi is one of the most famous freshwater scuba diving locations in the world. The third largest lake in Africa, ninth worldwide and with a depth of up to 700 metres.
Lake Malawi boasts of over 1000 species of tropical fish – 350 of which are unique to the lake. Scuba diving in Lake Malawi is like exploring a giant aquarium and being engulfed by a rainbow of fish. In fact, resort courses are available to those who wish to learn to dive. Fully qualified instructors welcome beginners and Lake Malawi, at 474m above sea level is the ideal place to learn to dive.
Best Diving Destinations in Malawi
At its deepest, the bottom is 700m however most of the diving is done above 20m as not much Cyclid life lives further down and the nearest recompression chamber is a long way off in Pretoria, South Africa. Although the diving itself is definately unchallenging, the numbers of brightly coloured fish is surprising. The main reason for diving here are the 1500 varieties of freshwater Cyclids endemic to Lake Malawi.
There are 11 main dive sites around Nkharta Bay which generally comprise of big underwater boulders covered in algae which provide some interesting swim throughs and hundreds of beautiful fish. A night dive is recommended here as scores of the large locally named dolphinfish (which look as dolphin-like as a loaf of bread) surround you within minutes of entering the water, an exciting sensation in the dark as you never quite know where they’re coming from.
When to Visit Malawi
There is no best time of year to dive in the Lake but the winds and weather as always can be unpredictable. The highest temperature can reach 31 degrees in December and the lowest 22 degrees.