Lake Niassa in Lilongwe – Mozambique

Lake Niassa in Lilongwe is the third biggest lake in Africa and eighth biggest on the planet. It is the southernmost lake of East Africa’s Great Rift Valley system. It is also known as Lake Nyasa.


The lake is situated between Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi. It is in the Great Rift Valley. The lake is 360 km southeast off Lake Tanganyika.

The biggest portion of the lake is at Malawi. But a quarter of it belongs to Mozambique. Included in this portion are waters encompassing Chizumulu and Likoma.

What to See

The area around the lake is known for its rich variety of fish including the large catfish and chambo. It is also home to the endangered painted hunting dog. Other wildlife in the area are the hippocampus, crocodiles and monkeys. Large number of African fish eagles also go to the site.

The lake is also known for its cichlid fish. Hundreds of endemic species are in the lake. Due to their vivid colors, the fish have become popular among aquarium owners. There are two types: the tilapiines and haplochromines. There are also several snails in the area.


The first European to visit Lake Niassa in Lilongwe was the trader Candido Jose da Costa Cardosa in 1846. In 1859, David Livingstone reached the place and he named it “Lake Nyasa”.

Soon enough the British Empire began claiming the surrounding area. On August 16, 1914, the lake would become the site for Britain’s first naval victory over Germany in World War I.


In Maputo, the rate for taxis is a flat 200 Mts. The fare can double up to 400 Mts if you are headed far. You can hire a dhow from Tanzania if the monsoon season is over. However, it can be very expensive.

Other Info

The length of the lake is between 560 and 580 kilometers. At the widest point it is 75 km. The surface area is 29,600 sq km (11,430 sq mi). Its shorelines are at southern Tanzania, eastern Malawi and western Mozambique.

The Ruhuhu River is the longest river that flows in it. The lake has an outlet in the Shire River. The lake is estimated to be 40,000 years old at least. More liberal estimates put its age at 2 million years.

Lake Niassa in Lilongwe figures prominently in the religious practices of some Malawi tribes. It is also featured in various African literature pieces.