Things to do
The town is on the shore of Lake Malawi and is one of the main ports on Lake Malawi. The population of Monkey Bay is estimated to be 14,591 as of 2008.
Elevation: 497 m
Population: 14 591 (2008)
Number of airports: 1
District: Mangochi District
There is a supermarket and a market and money exchange in Monkey Bay, although there are automatic teller machines in Mangochi. Monkey Bay is connected to Lilongwe and Blantyre by bus and taxi services.
Monkey Bay has been described as “the country’s best known resort” by Agence France-Presse, and Factiva refers to Monkey Bay as the “best known resort-area” in Malawi. The area has “sandy beaches and tropical fish”, and is popular with tourists
Cape Maclear, or Chembe, is a town on Malawi’s Nankumba Peninsula, at the southern end of Lake Malawi. Surrounded by forested mountains, it’s known for the sandy beaches and granite rocks of Lake Malawi National Park. The park shelters rich wildlife like antelope and baboons. Its clear waters are populated by hundreds of species of colorful cichlid fish. These are visible at dive sites such as Otter Point. Cape Maclear is close to the islands of Domwe and Thumbwe on Lake Malawi, and is in Lake Malawi National Park
In 1859, the missionary and explorer David Livingstone found the Cape, and named it “Cape Maclear” after his friend, the astronomer Thomas Maclear, who was Her Majesty’s Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope. In October 1875, a new mission, “Livingstonia”, was set up by a group of members of the Free Church of Scotland. Before the missionaries arrived, the area was controlled by the Muslim Yao people. The graves of some of the missionaries are in Cape Maclear, overlooking the bay.
Cape Maclear and its islands, forests and bay were declared a national park in 1980, creating the Lake Malawi National Park, the first freshwaternational park in the world. In 1984, the area became a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are several species of bird at Cape Maclear, including kingfishers, Dickinson’s kestrels, and freckled nightjars. There is a museum about the formation of Lake Malawi and its wildlife at Cape Maclear. UNESCO has recommended wildlife preservation at Cape Maclear.
Cape Maclear is “a leading tourist destination”, and is the busiest resort on Lake Malawi. The area is popular with backpackers. There are bars, restaurants, lodges and guesthouses in the town. Activities available in Cape Maclear include snorkelling, hiking, boat cruises, kayaking, and diving.