Lake Malawi National Park is the first freshwater national park in the world created in 1980. The National Park located on and around the Nankhumba Peninsula falls between 14°02′S and 34°53′E.
Lake Malawi National Park has been awarded the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984. The crystal clear waters of the National Park are home to hundreds of species of endemic fish. These species of fish are crucial in the study of the evolutionary process.
The National Park encompasses an area of 9,400 hectares, reaching the highest point at Nkunguni Mountain at 1,140 meters. It is managed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
The National Park falls on the southern shore of Lake Malawi, which is the third largest lake in Africa. The lake stretches an amazing 373 miles, forming a common border for Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Lake Malawi is a unique bio geographical province. The water of the lake is stratified and is stunningly clear.
The Nankhumba peninsula’s soil is rocky in nature and vulnerable to erosion. The hills are steep and wooded. Sandy bays are common which includes a picturesque beach near Chembe and Otter Point. The islands are predominantly rocky, with sandy flats and deep water separating individual islands from the mainland. From cliffs to pebbly beaches and wooded hillsides to swamps and lagoons, the Lake Malawi National Park has it all. Underwater habitats include weedy and reed beds.
The average annual temperature is 22.7°C. The rainfall varies throughout the year with the average falling around 766mm.
The primary reason for establishing the National Park was to protect and preserve the rich and diverse aquatic life of Lake Malawi. The lake boasts of the highest number of species of fish than any other lake in the world. The number of species exceeds 1,000 with over half inhabiting within the National Park. Endemism is in excess of 90% and the adaptive radiation and speciation in the lake is incredible. The lake has 30% of the cichlid species. Of these, more than 400 species, excepting five, are endemic to the lake. The fauna of the lake has myriad colors and is territorial in nature. The majority of the species are mouth-brooders.
Besides the aquatic life, the National Park boasts many mammalian species from the blue monkey to the spotted hyena. Do not be surprised if you encounter the bushbuck and zebra. Black eagles and fish eagles adorn the skyline of the lake. The National Park is not lacking in reptiles and snakes.
Tourism is on the rise with a steady spurt of small hotels designed to be in harmony with the environment. The recreation site situated at Cape Maclear is used frequently used. It is complete with a bar, caravan, and camping site. The environmental-educational complex located at Cape Maclear was sponsored by the World Wide Fund. The institute aims at educating local inhabitants as well as international visitors. In addition, there is a research facility owned by the Department of Fisheries. Research centers on the aquatic and marine life.
Lake Malawi National Park is the only existing lacustrine park in Africa, which protects hundreds of species of fish. Also, it is the first freshwater underwater park in the world.
Travelers wishing to get there would have to hire a car from the Lilongwe airport. There are several tour operators who provide transport facilities to Lake Malawi National Park. Tourists can indulge in several adventure sports from snorkeling and scuba diving to sailing, kayaking, and swimming. Lodging facilities are available within the park.