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Lake Malawi National Park is the world’s first and Africa’s finest freshwater National Park and a World Heritage Site, and was founded in 1980 to protect a diverse group of colourful fish known as cichlids (also known as mbuna). These colourfultropical fish are a spectacular sight to see, and the scenery in this area is superb. The World Wildlife Fund and the US Peace Corps have funded the development of facilities for environmental education programs and aquaria at the Park. It is classified by the IUCN as an “outstanding natural site”.

Lake Malawi National Park covers largely the southern portion of the lake. Focused on Cape Maclear the Park includes the Nankumba Peninsula, a portion of Lake Malawi, and 12 islands. 

With over 500 species identified there are more freshwater fish types in Lake Malawi National Park than there are in Europe and North America combined, and 95% of these species are endemic. These mbuna/rock fish/ cichlids are vividly collared and are viewed by snorkelling or scuba diving. Hippo and crocodile are also found in the Park, and on land the following animals can be seen: blue monkey, dassie, grysbok, hyena, klipspringer, otter, vervet monkey, yellow baboon and the zebra. The spotted-necked otters boast a healthy population and in the mornings and evenings can be seen snapping up stray fish from the returning fishing boats. 

The richness of the fish life attracts the fish eating species of birds: kingfishers found here include the giant, pied and malachite; cormorants, various herons, and fish eagles all have thriving populations. Other types of water bird found here include jacanas, ibises, egrets, and ducks.

Sandy beaches, sandy dunes, steep rocky outcrops, coves, densely wooded islands and reed marches surround the waters of this unique aquatic national Park. The waters themselves hold numerous reefs.

Along the shores one can see Borasus palms, baobabs, Euphorbias, and wild fig trees.



The Park is open throughout the year and access is always easy. Being typical tropical Africa, the best time to visit is between mid April and August when it’s dry and temperatures are moderate. November to early April is generally hot and wet while September and October are traditionally hot and dry.




The main activities one can do in the Park are snorkelling, scuba diving, and game viewing by boat. Sailing charters on a catamaran can also be taken while boat cruises on the Shire River are also popular. The annual Lake Malawi International Yachting Marathon, held in July each year is becoming a major tourist attraction. The race starts at Club Makokola, and finally ends up at Nkhata Bay 8 days later, with stopovers along the way and after 560km. 

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By road

from Blantyre follow signs for the Lake via Zomba. Cape Maclear is 232 kilometres from Lilongwe, 186 kilometresfrom Zambia, and 265 kilometres from Blantyre.

By air

Internal flights and air charters connect Lilongwe. Blantyre, Karonga, Mzuzu and Club Makokola near Cape Maclear.

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