Lake Malawi in Malawi is Africa's third largest and world's ninth largest lake and arguably the most beautiful as well. With it's stunning green-blue waters, the coast of the lake would rival some of the most beautiful ocean beaches in the world. And because it's a fresh water lake it is also much nicer to swim as the water doesn't sting your eye at all :)
The lake is known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lake Niassa in Mozambique. The lake has more fish variety than any other in the entire world and that's quite something. The most prized fish amongst these is Chambo fish. I have had it many times in the last many days, and I can absolutely vouch for it. It's delicious!
After a long day visiting the hospital at Salima Hospital, we were hungry and tired and this is when our host in Malawi suggested that we visit the Lake, which is just a few kilometers from the hospital. We were already staying at a Subird property in Lilongwe and there was a happy sense of familiarity when we walked into their beautiful looking hotel at the beach. A lovely swimming pool, great smell of fresh fish and sound of waves welcomed us inside.
With live music in just around our table, we had some delicious lunch at Sunbird Livingstone with many bottles of Kuche Kuche each. I quite enjoy the tradition of travel, once done with work, all conversations happen around lots of beer and food! And when the food is Chambo, life feels very satisfying...
A trip to Lake Malawi can't be complete without jumping into it's very inviting water. So right after a sumptuous lunch of Chambo fish and local Kuche Kuche beer, I was really to take a plunge.
The water of the lake is not just beautiful, but also really soothing. Though it's winters here (we are south of Equator), the water is just perfect for a swim. And that's exactly what I did and for quite a while. I had such a good time that I wanted to simply stay back here for the night and go back only the next morning to Lilongwe. After I was away for about twenty minutes, my friends, who were not carrying any swimming costumes, decided to swim nevertheless :)
Alas, work was waiting for us in the city and we had to head out to prepare for the big day! The drive back was lovely again and I even managed to capture some village life on my camera. We even found a truck load of local boys drinking the local beer and we bought some from them :) I think I do another post of beer in Malawi soon, but I can say for sure now that I really like light and breezy Kuche Kuche beer here :)
Interestingly it was on the highway that we found some really innovative things, like a Motorcycle Ambulance, which was carrying a patient from a village to the hospital. Malawi is not huge, but many parts of the country are remote and not well connected to healthcare facilities or cities, and this is when such things become very useful.
The street life in Malawi is fantastic as well (I think I just love it everywhere in the world and I am as fascinated by Africa as I was with New York). Its quite unlike India, as I originally imagined, because the country is not as heavily populated. However, you can find small shacks on the side streets selling vegetables and peanuts, just like back home in India. As people in Maalwi are supremely friendly, its great to stop by and have a mini chat and pick something tasty from them, especially bananas.
It was almost evening by the time we reached back to Lilongwe, a city I have come to love and admire for its simplicity and greenery. How many capital cities can boast of a sunset which makes you feel that you are camping in a forest? Lilongwe does just that :)
Salima is not the only destination on Lake Malawi, there are many other places to see as well:
Lake Malawi National Park: Located at the southern end of the great expanse of Lake Malawi, with its deep, clear waters and mountain backdrop, the national park is home to many hundreds of fish species, nearly all endemic. Its importance for the study of evolution is comparable to that of the finches of the Galapagos Islands.
Cycling and Snorkeling: There are paved roads from one end of the country to the other, and a variety of interesting side roads to explore that offer a full range of challenge. For those who want to do more than bicycle there are wildlife and bird viewing safaris, hikes in the mountains, steamer trips along the lake and snorkeling at beach resorts.
Kaya Mawa: Voted in the top ten 'Most Romantic Places in the World' by Conde Nast and in the Tatler top 101 Hotels in the World and most recently voted the 3rd Best Beach Property in Africa 2013 in the Good Safari Awards and a finalist in 2012. From the construction and the staff to integration within the local community, there is literally nowhere else like it.
Pamulani: Situated on the west side of the Nankumba Peninsula on the Southern end of Lake Malawi you can find Pumulani subtly nestled in the lush hills amongst the trees and craggy outcrops. The ten villas with their grass roofs to help reflect the heat provide the ultimate in space, design, comfort and privacy.
Cape MaClear: This is often described as a black hole by the tourists. Wonder why?