Unbeatable fresh-water diving from the luxury of a private Island Camp! As a World Heritage Site and the first freshwater marine reserve on earth, the Lake Malawi National Park is a great place to scuba dive, ideally suited to beginners or those who prefer relaxed diving. No sharks here!!
Lake Malawi contains the largest number of fish species of any lake in the world; more than five hundred different species have been recorded, with perhaps half occurring in the National Park area. Endemism is high (thought to exceed 90%) and adaptive radiation and speciation within the lake is remarkable. Lake Malawi is unique and forms a separate bio-geographical province. It is estimated to be between one and two million years old. The lake, ninth largest in the world, is 600km long and 80km wide, and forms the southern extremity of the African Rift Valley.
Lake Malawi's sub-aqua life is astounding and it can be like snorkeling in an aquarium. Many of the chichlids shine like polished silver as the sun refracts in the water, but there are many others like Cobalt Zebras and Mumbo Yellow (only found around Mumbo island within the national park), whose names reveal their dazzling colors.
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 decompression chamber is a long way off in Pretoria, South Africa. Although the diving itself is definitely not challenging, the numbers of brightly colored 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 located 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 dolphin-fish (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.
Mumbo Island and Domwe Island are the places to go.
Domwe Island is the largest unpopulated island in Lake Malawi, with a circumference of 11km and a highest point of 400m above lake level.
Domwe has an eclectic selection of mammals, including samango monkey, civet cat, bushpig, bushbaby, klipspringer and the yellow subspecies of chacma baboon. As far as reptiles are concerned, both islands are noteworthy for the high occurrence of rainbow skinks and large water monitors in particular.
Our tours to Monkey Bay - one of the most popular destinations in Africa for backpackers - are usually custom tailored to group including, scuba diving, kayaking hiking and biking.
Malawians are a nation of bikers – their humble one-gear bikes serve as personal transport, freight-carriers and the family car. So at tome you may experience a rush-hour of the different kind.... just way slower... The town is built around harbor installations, with spectacular views over the wooded lake-shore. It throbs with life on departure on arrival days and attracts huge crowds of well-wishers as well as passengers. From Monkey Bay, most travelers make their way to the beaches at Cape Maclear.
See more Shark Society destination photos at the Photo Gallery
Cape Maclear - aka Chembe - is a small fishing village on Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) . It has one dirt road leading into (and straight out of) town. Along this road, there are a few hostels, some dive shops, a handful of vendors selling curios and fruit and a few bars. The pace of life here is . . . very . . . slow. ;-) Cape Maclear is a fishing village of about 10,000. The fishermen live in the center of the town, while either end of the village caters to tourists. Mumbo Island is located about 4km offshore, inside Cape Maclear National Park, to the southern end of Lake Malawi.
The drive to Cape Maclear from Monkey Bay is through beautiful sunlit forest, preserved Lake Malawi National Park, which extends into the Lake, including nine islands, and offers shelter to some of the most spectacular fish in Africa. These underwater butterflies of the lake go by the local name of Mbuna - enchanting and delightfully colored fish that can be seen particularly easily in this area of the lake. Stretched out along the stunning beaches at this lovely spot, are a variety of establishments offering low cost accommodation, good food, cold beer - and plenty of fun. Inside the park is Golden Sands Rest camp right on the beach at Otter Point.
Times Online about Malawi