Lake Malawi

The third largest lake in Africa, Lake Malawi forms an aquatic political divide between Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. It is also one of the deepest lakes in the world. In the middle of our 11 day stay in Malawi, we spent 2 nights in Cape MacLear which lies in the UNESCO protected Lake Malawi National Park. To get there, we had to cross the Dedza-Salima Forest Reserve which straddles a pretty decent mountain range. We descended the very windy road to a glorious view of the lake.

I'll start with the worst part as it wasn't too bad. The dozens of guys hawking trinkets on the beach were almost intolerable. I stepped out of our resort gate onto the beach and within five seconds I had 10 guys around me. I guess I stink of money.

One of the first guys to approach me though was Flamingo. He ran a little lake tour boat (albeit expensive) that takes people to West Thumbi Island to see the fish and birds. He hired him to take us just after lunch.

Lake Malawi is home to the largest variety of cichlids, one of the most popular fresh water aquarium fish. There isn't an exact figure for the number of genus in the world, but Lake Malawi holds somewhere in the vicinity of 900 to 1000 of these little colourful fish.

Ken and I snorkelled for about an hour amont the rocky shore of West Thumbi Island. It was great to be in the water again - I hadn't done serious snorkelling since '95-96 when I was in the Marshall Islands. Wendy lent me her underwater camera.

The second half of the trip took us to the east side of the Thumbi where Flamingo let out a few long whistles, flung a fish high into the air and told us to have our camera's ready. Seven or eight times we watched as large fish eagles circled above us then careened over the water snatching the floating fish  of the surface of the water just a few meters away from our launch.

Later in our stay in Malawi I enjoyed some of the lake's fish: chambo (a variety of tilapia). It was decent, but I think mine was too small.

Our last morning, Ken and I took out a rough looking double kayak with very short paddles. We got pretty wet, but it was good to stretch our arms and get out onto the quiet lake. We headed along the cape towards Domwe Island, but ran out of steam about 3/4 of the way there. Plus we were hungry for breakfast.

The sunset over the lake provided a great opportunity for silhouette shots of the locals finishing up their work day.

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