Sitting in the sunshine on a palm-fringed, sandy beach with sapphire water stretching as far as the eye can see, you might be forgiven for thinking you're on an oceanic tropical island rather than on the shores of Lake Malawi, hundreds of kilometres from the coast.

Part of the tumble of mountains and lakes that make up the Great Rift Valley, Lake Malawi is the undisputed draw card of what people call the friendliest country in Africa. Covering 30 000km² and taking up a of Malawi, this massive freshwater body is filled with shoals of brightly coloured fish while the branches of lakeside trees act as convenient perches for African fish eagles, their distinctive calls a soothing soundtrack to a Lake Malawi holiday.

The most accessible and popular parts of Lake Malawi are its southern and central regions, and this is where you'll find our pick of lakeside accommodation, ranging from family-friendly beach resorts such as Club Makokola to romantic island lodges including Mumbo Island and Kaya Mawa. Even in these more visited areas the lake is still wonderfully untouched by mass tourism: no queues, no crowds - just a stress-free beach holiday in a unique environment.

Activities offered at Lake Malawi lodges are understandably water-based. With the largest number of fish species of any lake in the world, the snorkelling is fantastic and it’s a top destination for freshwater scuba diving too. The flat lake surface is also perfect for leisurely kayaking and fair-weather sailing.

Back on dry land there are plenty of opportunities to go bird watching, add on a local big game safari in nearby Liwonde National Park, or just to immerse yourself in the local beach culture - noted as being about as laid-back as it gets.

Lake Malawi is best visited between early May and late October when the climate is mild to warm with little chance of rain and the risk of malaria is at its lowest. Find out more about where to go on Lake Malawi or simply chat to one of our well-travelled Africa Safari Experts - they know the area well and can recommend the perfect place for a week-long Lake Malawi holiday or will include a couple of relaxing days on the lakeshore as part of a longer Southern Africa safari itinerary.