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Lake Malawi Marine Conservation and Diving

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Lake Malawi Marine Conservation and Diving

Help to preserve Lake Malawi’s endemic species and work with local communities to increase their awareness and appreciation of the marine environment.

Prices from US$2,245

Although a landlocked country, Malawi has an inland sea, Lake Malawi, a vast body of freshwater that stretches 350 miles between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. As the most biodiverse lake on the planet, it has over 1000 cichlid fish species known locally as "mbuna", nearly all of these cichlids are endemic to Lake Malawi yet less than half of these have been properly identified.
As Lake Malawi is isolated from other bodies of water, these cichlid species demonstrate a significant amount of biological evolution and are an important example of adaptation, radiation and speciation. Despite this, there has been little attention on the lake’s fish species by the scientific and conservation communities. Furthermore the lakes important ecological, biological and socio/economic factors have also been mostly overlooked in recent years.
As a volunteer you will be a valuable part of the research team involved in carrying out crucial studies on the diverse ecological community in Lake Malawi. Trained as an underwater scuba researcher, you will gain technical field research skills and learn about research methodologies, whilst also helping conserve this unique habitat. 


•    Help to preserve Lake Malawi’s endemic species
•    PADI scuba diving courses and qualifications available
•    Extend your experience in tropical marine and coastal conservation field work


Location  Kande, Lake Malawi
•    Learn to dive in the beautiful Lake Malawi
•    Record observations of species diversity and abundance
•    Take part in critical habitat mapping
•    Work with local communities to increase their awareness and appreciation of the marine environment.   


Transport Airport pickup on arrival and drop off at end of project
Accommodation shared accommodation at the research centre
Before you go
Pre-departure support
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Kit advice
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt (UK only)
Airport pick up and drop off
PADI open water
Local orientation
Project training
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ back-up


A variety of qualifications are available on many of our projects. For example, BTEC certificates and diplomas on our Group conservation projects and TEFL certificates and BTECs on most of our teaching projects. You may also be able to gain a CoPE to support your university application. For more information on these qualifications, please see the qualifications section of our website or ask your volunteer advisor.

The aim of the Lake Malawi marine conservation project is to study the magnificent diversity of the fauna and flora that inhabit Lake Malawi. The research centre collects baseline environmental data on factors such as the water quality of the lake and the biodiversity and abundance of species who inhabit it.
The research centre has three primary objectives and as a volunteer you will be involved with all of them. The first is to complete population and biodiversity surveys on the lakes diverse species. Secondly, to monitor the water quality of the late and to assess how development on the shores of the lake are affecting this. Lastly, there is a research focus on the fishing pressure on the lake and what is needed to ensure this is sustainable.
An environmental education program is also run by the research centre which informs both Malawians and tourists on the importance of the lake, the resources it provides for the community and how to preserve and protect it.

You will be provided with all the necessary training to be of assistance to the research programmes and collect data accurately. You will complete your PADI Open Water dive training within the first few days of your project. You will then be able to take part in underwater SCUBA and snorkel surveys during which you will be monitoring and assessing biodiversity and ecosystem function, diving under the supervision of a professional dive officer, you will become confident and comfortable underwater. Your results will help determine the biodiversity of these waters and help develop further management plans and sustainable resource use within local communities.
Furthermore, you will receive training in land based field surveying techniques and assist with projects that educate the community on the importance of Lake Malawi.

A member of staff from our local partner organisation in Malawi will meet you on arrival at Lilongwe International Airport. From here you will be transferred to the research centre, which is a 5 hour drive from the airport. The project can begin on any day of the week.

You will be staying in shared accommodation at the Research Centre situated on the western shores of Lake Malawi. The nearest village is Kande, a small, friendly village with no banks or modern shopping facilities but plenty of markets and places to eat.

During your time on the project you will be provided with breakfast and dinner, however, you will have to buy or cook your own lunches. Meals will be prepared from local Malawian ingredients and will be largely vegetarian, with meat eaten around twice a week. You will have many opportunities to visit the local Kande market in order to buy lunch ingredients and the research centre has a communal kitchen for you to prepare your food.
If you fancy a treat there are a few restaurants in Kande village that serve delicious local dishes. Or if you are missing home, there is a western style bar and restaurant located on a campsite next door to the research centre.

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During your free time in Malawi there are a lot of activities for you to enjoy and scenery for you to admire. You will have chance to explore local markets or attend nearby football games, there is also the opportunity to get to know Malawians during volleyball matches or by accompanying local fisherman on fishing outings.
After the project, you may choose to explore more of Malawi in your own time or with some of your new friends. Our friendly in-country staff will be more than happy to advice you and help you get started on your own adventure!


2 weeks US$2,245

3 weeks US$2,545

4 weeks US$2,895

extra week US$595

Minimum 2 weeks max 12 weeks


Nearest airport(s): Lilongwe (LLW)


  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Insurance

For detailed information on flights, visas and insurance, click here.


Please read our legal statement regarding the running of NGO projects.

To apply for this placement, click on "Apply Now" below. Fill in the short application form and one of our advisers will then call you back to answer any questions and make sure this is the perfect placement for you. Applying doesn't cost a penny and you won't pay anything until you're completely happy and you're ready to reserve your place.

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