T378, Chembe, Malawi
GPS: -14.065332447977, 34.884999710043
Lake Malawi National Park is in the Great Rift Valley on the southern shore of Lake Malawi. This body of fresh water covers much of the eastern part of Malawi, a small country wedged between Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Despite Malawi being landlocked, its lake has shores and a body of water so large that it resembles an inland sea. Lake Malawi was declared a protected are in 1980 to safeguard the variety of habitats of its freshwater fish populations.
Covering 20% of the country’s area, or about 30,000 km², Lake Malawi is the third largest body of water in Africa after Lake Victoria (68,000 km²) and Lake Tanganyika (33,000 km²). On a global scale, it is the 8th largest lake in terms of surface area and the 5th largest in terms of volume (estimated at nearly 8,000 km3, this figure can vary according to the seasons and hydro-climatic conditions). Lake Malawi is 580 kilometres long and 80 kilometres wide. It serves as a natural border with the neighbouring countries of Mozambique to the south and Tanzania to the north, which share part of its shores (these two countries more commonly call it Lake Nyasa). This natural reservoir is a meromictic lake, meaning it has several layers of water that do not intermix. This explains the high-water clarity of Lake Malawi and the abundance of underwater life.
Comparable to no other lake in the world, Lake Malawi harbours a variety of freshwater fish greater than any other body of water on the planet. Among its unparalleled diversity of fish, the lake has several hundred endemic species, most of which are cichlids (tropical, multi-coloured fish). Threatened by illegal fishing, overfishing, oil exploration and pollution, this deep lake (750 metres at its lowest point) is also a nesting ground for several species of birds. Scientists compare Lake Malawi National Park’s ecosystem to the Galapagos Islands because of its great biological wealth. Its clear waters offer underwater visibility at depths of up to 20 metres and harbour significant oil and gas deposits.