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Northern Lakeshore

With the most dramatic section of the lake at Livingstoni, majestic mountains on either side, and Chombe Bay adding a touch of beach atmosphere, this is a truly wonderful place to appreciate the clear waters of the lake, and all it has to offer – Lake Malawi’s Northern Lakeshore is less well known than the Southern Lakeshore but this is by no means a reflection on the area itself.

Around Chitimba the road descends the Rift Valley Escarpment and provides spectacular views of the northern shore of the lake, which is largely due to the massive, thickly wooded mountains. This is the largest settlement along the beautiful Chombe Bay, and it is a great place to stay for a few nights. The beaches are less crowded than around the Cape Maclear area, and the tranquillity is wonderful.

Livingstonia was the original base for the Scottish missionaries who came to the country in the late 19th century and played a huge part in Malawi’s history. It was here the start of the end of the slave trade came about, and it is hard to imagine that such a thing ever happened in what is arguably one of the most scenic places in Africa. Sitting high above the lake, the views from the town are so far-reaching that the Livingstone Mountains in Tanzania can be seen on a clear day, and on the clearest of days the curvature of the Earth is visible. The church is the most striking building in the town, unsurprisingly due to the origin of it. Made of local stone, the setting and the skill of the architects make this one of the most picturesque buildings in Malawi.

Nearby, the 125m-high Manchewe Waterfall that is surrounded by lush forest can be approached from the top or the bottom, and the edge can be approached to give spectacular views of the pool down below. For the adventurous you can also abseil down the rocky wall to the side of the falls, and the rush of adrenaline this gives is electrifying. Other adventure activities include climbing, bungee-jumping, hiking and other abseiling areas including Chombe Plateau.

The nearby Livingstonia Mission is an interesting place in which it is possible to spend hours walking through the town and to the mission house, whilst the Stone House holds exhibitions that are amazing in their completeness, from a letter David Livingstone sent to his son, to an anaesthetic machine that was the first in central Africa, to some early entertainment equipment such as an antiquated cine camera.

Lukwe Permaculture Garden has fruit and vegetables that grown on terraces that have streams and ponds flowering through them, which attract otters and create an idyllic atmosphere that is pleasant to enjoy at a gentle stroll.

Karonga is the largest town on the lakeshore here, and is home to the Nkonde, an extremely friendly and hospitable people. The town has a rich history related to the slave trade, of which it managed to escape for years until it was devastatingly used in the 1890’s. The First World War left relics in the missionary cemetery, and German war graves.

A large baobab tree which, somewhat bizarrely, has a mango tree growing out of its centre grows outside the old Post Office, and adds even more to the history of the place.

An almost intact skeleton of the 12 m long malawisaurus dinosaur that lived 100 million years ago was recently found, as well as the jawbone of one our ancestors that at 2.5 million years old is one of the oldest remains of the Homo genus.

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