Malawi named one of Lonely Planet's Best in Travel Top Countries for 2022! Find out more.
Malawi named one of Lonely Planet's Best in Travel Top Countries for 2022! Find out more.
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Kayaking & Sailing

The vast body of water that is Lake Malawi provides the perfect ‘playground’ for kayaking/canoeing and sailing. The Lake waters are generally calmer than those of an open ocean but the Lake is large enough to allow winds to grow that are more than enough to propel all sizes of sailing boats. Paddling and sailing excursions can range from an hour or so on the water to an overnight spent on a yacht or a a full kayaking expedition over a number of days.

Most lodges and hotels on the shores of Lake Malawi will have a few kayaks or canoes available to their guests and kayaking is proving increasingly popular, particularly in the Lake Malawi National Park. Sea-going kayaks there are used to paddle (if you wish) to eco-camps on two deserted islands in the park and longer term expeditions can be organised along the shore of the Lake. Canoe expeditions are also on offer at the Manda Wilderness Reserve.

The tide and current-free waters make for good sailing and small boats are available for hire at a few of the lakeshore lodges and hotels. The highlight of the sailing calendar is the Lake Malawi Sailing Marathon every July. This international event consists of a series of daily stages, beginning in the south, and ending a few days later in the north.

As well as Lake Malawi, a small dam in the Viphya Highlands also has a few boats available for visitors. And in Nkohtakota Wildlife Reserve there is the opportunity to quietly paddling a canoe on a boat safari along the Bua River, through the thick, wildlife-rich wilderness.

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Places offering Kayaking & Sailing


Chintheche offers some of the best beaches on Lake Malawi, with a collection of luxury lodges right by the shore.


Thirty miles north of Nkhotakota is the settlement of Dwangwa, a useful place to stock up and refuel when travelling up and down the lakeshore.

Lake Malawi National Park

Lake Malawi National Park is the world's first freshwater national park and world heritage site, situated at Cape Maclear.

Manda Wilderness (Mozambique)

A massive 100,000 ha area of Mozambique land which runs to the eastern shore of Lake Malawi forms the Manda Wilderness Community Reserve.

Mangochi Lakeshore

The Mangochi Lakeshore is a strip of southern Lake Malawi where many popular hotels and resorts offer beachside accommodation.

Marelli Islands

The Marelli Islands group, consist of three uninhabited islands that are protected as part of the Lake Malawi National Park. They are 3 km from the Senga Bay shore.

Nkhata Bay

Nkhata Bay is a small sheltered harbour on Lake Malawi's northern shore. It is a focus for the fishing industry but becoming increasingly important as a tourist centre. 

Salima & Senga Bay

Salima is an important service and trading centre set back from Lake Malawi whilst Senga Bay has a stretch of sandy beach with a range of hotels, lodges and campsites.

Viphya Plateau

The forested Viphya is a wonderful area for those seeking a combination of stunning scenery and solitude, with opportunities for trekking, mountain biking and various other activities.

Similar Activities


When looking for the perfect destination to snorkel, Lake Malawi has it all. Discover the underwater world of Malawi's famous cichlid fish in clear and calm waters with visibility up to 30 m.

Scuba Diving

The clear, calm, warm, shark-free and tideless waters with an abundant fish population (around 1000 species), and fascinating rock formations make Lake Malawi an excellent place to dive.

Boat Trips

Unsurprisingly for a Lake of its size, there is a good range of boat trips available on Lake Malawi on vessels of all sizes.