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Lake Malawi occupies about twenty percent of the Malawi’s total area and is the third largest lake in Africa. It is approximately 365 miles from north to south and 52 miles wide. Only the River Shire flows from it, with the waters eventually spilling into the Indian Ocean via the River Zambezi.
The surface of the Lake is 1,550ft above sea level and in the north it is 2,300 feet deep, plunging well below sea level reflecting the enormity of the natural faulting of the Great Rift Valley which is the origin of the Lake itself.
For much of the year the Lake is placid, but when strong winds blow north or south, it can become furious and exciting. Because of its potentially rich harvest of fish, the Lake plays an important part in the country’s economy. Fishing villages are scattered along the length of the lakeshore and the traditional industry and practices are an attraction to visitors.
Access to the Lake is possible along much of its length but it should be noted that it is usually necessary to take a short detour off the main roads in order to reach the beach. Despite the attraction the Lake has to settlement, there are long stretches of totally uninhabited golden sand lakeshore, and plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy activities on and in the waters.