With a length of 560 kilometers, a width of up to 80 kilometers average 50 kilometers and a depth of up to 704 meters, the Lake Malawi is one of the largest African Great Lakes in the East African Rift Valley. It is surpassed in terms of its area only by Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria. Since the lake exists for more than a million years, it belongs to the long-term lakes of the earth.
The water of the lake is very clear. On the lake shore can be looked to the bottom. Countless white-tailed eagles live on Lake Malawi. Particular attention should be paid to hippos, which are very agile and fast on water as well as on land. Although they are herbivores, humans attack when they cut off the escape route into the open water. They try to submerge their victims and drown them. Every year more people die from hippos than from crocodiles, who find enough food in the fish-rich lake. Those traveling to smaller, uninhabited islands should be prepared for wildlife, including sea pythons and large monitor lizards. In inhabited areas, the lake is relatively harmless.
Towards the north, the banks become steeper. In the far north on the Tanzanian side, the Livingstone mountains with steep walls tower directly out of the lake up to almost 2,500 meters above sea level. Here very strong winds with high waves and treacherous downwind can occur. Anyone sailing or windsurfing here must be aware of these dangers. The opposite Malawian seafront between Karonga and Chilumba is far less rugged than that between Chilumba and Nkhata Bay.
Lake Malawi is known for its abundance of mouth-feeding cichlids. In total, almost 450 species of fish live in the lake, most are cichlids. Almost all cichlid genus and species are endemic. The endemic cichlid species include Aulonocara, Labeotropheus, Labidochromis, Maylandia, Melanochromis, Pseudotropheus and Sciaenochromis. They form a species swarm that has emerged from a Haplochromis or Pseudocrenilabrus -like ancestor. The cichlids ecologically bound to the rocky shores of the lake are called by the inhabitants of the lake shore Mbuna, the other Utaka. In addition to the cichlids come in Lake Malawi Nile pike, various types of catfish, carp fish, salmon, a spiny eel Mastacembelus shiranus .
Many cichlids are popular aquarium fish. Of importance to the human diet are the Chambo, actually four cichlids of the genus Oreochromis, and the Kampango, a catfish species Bagrus meridionalis , which are also exported. However, only the southernmost part of Lake Malawi is economically fished for them. Even fishermen in pirogues are fishing for them, but not in marketable quantities. To protect the breeding grounds of the fish was established in 1980 on the south shore of the lake at Monkey Bay, the Lake Malawi National Park, which is since 1984, also on the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage.