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


The Marelli Islands group consists of three islands: Maleri, the largest, is 168 ha, Nankoma, 65 ha and Nakantenga, 18 ha. They are located opposite Senga Bay, 3 km 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, and otters. 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 impressive lake shoreline 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 develop its exclusive lodge in order to support and maintain their conservation activities in this area. Blue Zebra is based on Nankoma Island and offers a variety of lake activities, including scuba diving, and specialised retreats, including yoga.

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Accommodation in or near Marelli Islands

Safari Beach Lodge

Safari Beach Lodge is an eco lodge directly on the shore of Lake Malawi located in the secluded Senga Bay Forest Reserve. It has its own private beach, a swimming pool, a beautiful platform bar and a lush forest garden with views over Leopard Bay.

Kuwona Cottage

Kuwona Cottage is a private beachside cottage, run by Kiboko Safaris, situated on the beautiful shores of Lake Malawi. Enjoy spectacular views of the lake from your own private beach.

Blue Zebra Island Lodge

Blue Zebra Island Lodge is situated in the Lake Malawi National Park on Nankoma Island, offering 9 exclusive tented en-suite chalets each overlooking the lake with some of the chalets boasting private lake access.

Malo Resort

*COMING SOON* Malo Resort is a 5 Star Lakeside Devolvement being built on the shores of Lake Malawi. Due for completion in late 2021, this is the first of its kind in Malawi.

Kumbali Lake Retreat

Kumbali Lake Retreat is an eco-friendly lodge on the beautiful shores of Lake Malawi. Owned and run by the same family who own Kumbali Country Lodge in Lilongwe.

Blue Waters by Serendib

Blue Waters is an elegant getaway for the discerning traveler to enjoy world-class service amidst tranquil surroundings. Situated on Senga bay, in the lakeside town of Salima along the shores of Lake Malawi.

Kambiri Beach by Serendib

Kambiri Beach is an exclusive resort, consisting of 67 rooms elegantly renovated, situated on the shores of Lake Malawi, in the picturesque town of Salima in the Senga Bay area.


Other Places to Visit in Central Malawi

Chongoni Rock Art

In the forested granite hills around Dedza is the Chongoni Rock Art Area, a UNESCO World Heritage SIte. this is the densest cluster of ancient rock art found in central Africa.

Dedza

Dedza is a town of interest for a variety of reasons. At 1600m (5300ft) it is the highest town in the country and sits in a beautiful landscape of forests and highlands.

Dwangwa

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.

Dzalanyama Forest Reserve

Dzalanyama is approximately 40 km from Lilongwe and covers the steep range of hills which bear the same name. It's a beautiful natural environment to explore and enjoy.

Kasungu National Park

Kasungu National Park is an 800 sq mile area of natural woodland and bush with stretches of open grass. Poaching has reduced numbers but there is still wildlife to be seen.

Lilongwe

Lilongwe is Malawi’s capital. The Old Town is distinct and has the appearance of a traditional African settlement, whilst the City has much in common with other twentieth century urban developments around the world.

Mua Mission

Mua Mission is famous for the quality of the wood carvings produced and sold there. The standards are superb and the prices very reasonable.

Nkhotakota

Often, but confusingly, described as the largest traditional village in Africa, Nkhotakota is rich in history. Visited by Dr Livingstone in 1863, it was then a major centre for the slave trade.

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve is one of the two large wildlife areas in Central Malawi. A true wilderness, it has a promising future after recent mass restocking.

Ntchisi Forest Reserve

Ntchisi Forest Reserve contains some of the last remaining indigenous rainforest in Malawi. Some trees tower thirty metres overhead.

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.


Other Places to Visit on Lake Malawi

Chintheche

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

Dwangwa

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.

Karonga

Karonga is one of Lake Malawi's most northern towns. It is home to a wonderful new museum of cultural history and archeology.

Lake Malawi National Park

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

Likoma Island

Likoma Island sits on the far side of the Lake Malawi in Mozambican waters. The island is home to stunning beaches and lodges, with access by boat or aircraft.

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.

Monkey Bay

Monkey Bay is considered to be one of Malawi's main lake ports, and is where the famous Ilala ferry docks and begins its weekly sojourn up and down the Lake

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. 

Nkhotakota

Often, but confusingly, described as the largest traditional village in Africa, Nkhotakota is rich in history. Visited by Dr Livingstone in 1863, it was then a major centre for the slave trade.

Northern Lakeshore / Chitimba

The lakeshore in the far north between Nkhata Bay and Karonga is dramatic, with steep rift valley escarpments at times forming the shoreline.

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.


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