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Marelli Islands
Region: Central Malawi

 

The Marelli Islands group, consist of three islands: Maleri, the largest, is 168ha, Nankoma, 65ha and Nakantenga, 18ha. They are located opposite Senga Bay, 16km away from Salima Town and lie 3km from the shore in the remarkably clear waters of Lake Malawi.

The Marelli Islands are 3 of the 13 islands that fall under the protection of Lake Malawi National Park, the first fresh water National Park in the world. Due to the large array of habitat types present on the archipelago, varying from rocky shorelines to small wild sandy beaches and from wooden hill sides to reedy lagoons, the Marelli Islands are home to a wide range of animals species. Several kinds of unique cichlid fish occur exclusively around these islands and cannot be found anywhere else in Lake Malawi or anywhere else in the world. This fish are sheltered in the rocky formations and protected by a 100m no-fishing area. Mammals include duikers, bush babies, otters and hippo on the mainland shores. Reptiles include mainly monitor lizards and snakes.

The islands are rich with bird life, with over 300 spices represented. Some common species are fish eagles, hornbills, herons, weavers, owls and kingfishers. The islands are also an important nesting areas for white-throated and long-tailed cormorants.

Common trees include adansonia digitata baobabs, brackystegia bussei, tamarind and fig trees.

The islands are of exceptional beauty, with the rift valley mountains as a backdrop, the Linthipe river-mouth's rich biodiversity on one side, the lively fishing villages, the northern coastline and a grand endless view of the lake to the north. All of the Islands are un-inhabited but Lake Malawi National Park Authorities have given special concession to Blue Zebra to developing its exclusive Lodge in order to support and maintain their conservation activities in this area. The Lodge itself is based on Nankoma Island.