Lake Nyasa

The quiet, mountain-fringed beaches here are ideal for families and those travelling off the beaten track.

Lake Nyasa (also known as Lake Malawi) is Africa’s third-largest lake after Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika. It’s more than 550km long, up to 75km wide and as deep as 700m in parts. It also has a high level of biodiversity, containing close to one-third of the world’s known cichlid species. The lake is bordered by Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. The Tanzanian side is rimmed to the east by the Livingstone Mountains, whose green, misty slopes form a stunning backdrop as they cascade down to the sandy shoreline. Few roads reach the towns strung out between the mountains and the shore along the lake’s eastern side. To the north and east, the mountains lead on to the Kitulo Plateau.
While the mountains are enticing to hikers, you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient (including with tent and water filter) and carry a GPS. One possible route is from the mission station of Bulongwa (reached via bus from Njombe) to Matema, which offers superb views as you make your way down to the lakeshore. Allow about 14 hours for the trip and start out at daybreak. There are inexpensive guesthouses in Bulongwa where you can spend the previous night. A longer version of this hike is also possible, starting near the Kitulo Park gate. Another possibility is to take a dalladalla from Njombe to Ludewa, from where you could make your way down to Lupingu and wait for the MV Iringa or MV Songea. Once at the shoreline, note that both crocodiles (near river mouths) and malaria-carrying falciparum mosquitoes are real hazards, so take the appropriate precautions.
Other places of interest around the Tanzanian side of the lake include (from north to south) Kyela,
Itungi, Matema, Ikombe, Liuli and Mbamba Bay.