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Malawi Lakeshore

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Lake Malawi SunsetLake Malawi is one of Africa's most spectacular Rift Valley lakes, occupying one fifth of Malawi's total land mass, stretching from Tanzania in the North to Mangochi in the south bordering Mozambique on the eastern shoreline.

It is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide and reaches a depth of over 700 metres in the northern parts. It is fed by fourteen rivers and drained by only one, the Shire River in the south.

Just about every visitor to Malawi will visit the lake which regarded as a truly tropical paradise, and it not difficult to see why, with the spectacular surrounding scenery, miles of golden beaches lining the shores of the lake and the crystal clear water.

Lake Malawi Scuba DivingFrom north to south there is are numerous places to stay of great variety of accommodation that suit most peoples taste and budget. The Lake has become a playground for tourists worldwide. The lake is ideal for waters-ports, sailing or just relaxing in the sun.

Lake Malawi has over 500 species of tropical fish, some which not found anywhere else in the world.

Scuba diving is very popular in certain areas providing excellent visibility and safe conditions.

In recent years it has been recorded that there is bilharzia in certain parts of the lake, mainly in the south where the rivers flood in during the raining season from the villages upstream.

In these areas and during the raining season visibility can be very poor and the lake appears slightly muddy.

The following section follows the lakeshore from north to south

Koronga

Near Koronga Town Overlooking the Lake ShoreIs the main town in the far northern part of the lake and is the entry and exit point for those travelling to and from Tanzania and Northern Zambia. It is also the only place north of Mzuzu with a bank.

The lakeshore stretch from Karonga, travelling south to Chiweta has probably the most dramatic scenery of all the lake with immense mountains rising to each side.

The area has not seen much tourist development to date although recently many establishments offering accommodation are being built. The main road in the area, although sealed, is extremely pot-holed and slow going.

Northern Lake Region

The main tourist attraction in the northern lakeshore if Livingstonia Mission which was built in 1894 by Dr Robert Laws who named it in honour of Dr Livingstone - Livingstonia is located in a small village, Khondowe, on top of the west Rift Valley escarpment, 900m above the lakeshore. The road up to it is a hair -raising experience, narrow and pot-holed with 20 hairpin bends, but the scenery is spectacular and it is definitely worth the visit. Whilst here you should leave yourself enough time to visit the Manchewe Waterfall, the highest in Malawi surrounded by lush rain forest. There are times, particularly during the rains, when the road is impassable to saloon cars but it is possible to walk up if you have the energy.

Nkhata Bay

Nkhata Bay, MalawiNkhata Bay lies about 50km east of Mzuzu and is the most popular northern lakeshore resort, and is one of the lakeshores most scenic villages consisting of two bays separated by a long narrow peninsula.

One of the bays is mainly a port where the Lake Malawi steamer docks, the other, Chikale Beach is a back-packers heaven. The sunrise and sunsets are quite picturesque and the atmosphere very laid back

Facilities in the village include a bank, a post office, numerous small grocery stores and many establishments offering western food. There is also lively market extensively selling curio and clothing, but bargain hard for the best price. Scuba diving courses are available and it is reputed as being one of the cheapest places in the world to qualify, needless to say they are very popular and you may have to book in advance.

Chikale Beach MalawiIn recent years the whole area has become especially popular with backpackers. There are numerous places to stay strung out along the main road, through the town and on Chikale Beach. The most popular spot on Chikale beach is Njaya lodge which is run by an English couple. The accommodation consists of bamboo style huts, that blend in with the scenery, situated on the hillside overlooking the bay. This is definitely a place where you can totally unwind, the food on offer is good. At the other end of the beach is the Chikale Beach Resort with offer concrete block accommodation at reasonable prices and camping. When we last visited they were building new Rondavels.

As a child, some 20 years plus ago, I used to camp on this beach when, more often than not, we were the only visitors here and there were no facilities whatsoever. It has changed tremendously but I am pleased to say that it still retains it's peaceful relaxing atmosphere.

Chintheche Area

Chintheche  Beach, MalawiChintheche village lies about 40km south Nkhata Bay, and has a few small shops, a market, mosque and bank that is only open twice a week.

The lakeshore north and south of the village has long, white stretches of fine sandy beaches.

All along the main road from Nkhata Bay to Nkhotakota, small dirt tracks lead to a variety of camping sites, lodges and hotels suitable for all types of traveler.

14kms south is the village of Dwangwa with is dominated by the Kasasa Sugar Estate, where I spent 2 years of my childhood. Visitors to this area can stay at the Kasasa Club which offers a golf course, swimming pool, attractive club house with a bar and restaurant, and self contained chalets. Drinks are subsidised for the estate workers so are cheaper than anywhere else.

Nkhotakota

Nkhotakota Beach, MalawiBetween Nkhotakota and Dwanga there is not many places to stay. Nkhotakota for much of the 19 century was the centre of slave trading, with as many as 20,000 slaves being shipped over the lake into Tanzania every year.

This was only finally stopped in the 1890's when Dr Livingstone met with Jumbe, the local chief and persuaded him to sign a treaty abondoning the slave trade.

Salima - Senga Bay Area

Senga Bay MalawiSalima is located inland approx 20kms from the lake, it is the closest town to Senga Bay where you can stock up on provisions.

There is also a couple of fairly good markets, banks, a post office and bus station. Asides from that there is not much to attract to tourist to spend a night unless they are catching an early morning bus.

Most people head off to the Senga Bay where there are several beach lodges along the lakeshore.

As a point of caution, when swimming in this area watch out for Hippo's, although they don't normally attack for no reason, they can be dangerous especially if they have young. Most of the lakeshore establishments are able to arrange water sports, such as wind surfing, water- skiing, snorkelling and boat rides to nearby islands. This is an excellent area for bird watching and hiking, although it is advisable to go with a guide. Along the main street you will find many curio sellers, and good bargains can be had.
 

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Chuck Roosvelt & Job Harris Chuck Roosvelt & Job Harris


Davies, My husband and I want to thank Kivulini Safaris Staff and Wilderness Safaris for arranging our 'safari' in South Africa. We were very pleased with Thornybush Game Reserve and Chupungu Camp in general. The managers, Kerry and Nick, were very gracious hosts. Norman, our tracker, was so prompt at the 5AM-wakeup knock. All the staff was terrific. The meals were great as well as the South African wine!! Our tent was lovely!! The days we spent with Nick and Norman were great. Each time We were so surprised that we could get to see the animals so up close. Kerry, Nick, Norman and the rest of the staff made it so personal. Thornybush Game Reserve was so nice! All of the arrangements went smoothly - the meet-and-greet at the airport, h...

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