G+ YouTube Pinterest Instagram

Lake Malawi Marine Conservation and Diving

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 $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.

To Do!  | 16 Jul 2017
My friend and I left London excited yet nervous not knowing what to expect. Once we got off the p...

Read more

1 to 1

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 $2,245

3 weeks $2,545

4 weeks $2,895

extra week $595

Minimum 2 weeks max 12 weeks


Nearest airport(s): Lilongwe (LLW)



Flights are not included in our trip costs. However, we have partnered with an experienced and professional team of travel experts to help our volunteers find the best flight deals for their trips with us. This travel specialist operates in the tailor-made, long haul multi-stop travel market, arranging complex airfares and transfers for independent travellers. They provide expertise, security and a vast product range along with a Travel Butler service which is a single point of contact and support whilst you are overseas.

We recommend that you obtain a quote using the following contact details rather than book online, as our partner will offer you the most competitive fares. To receive your quote or to seek any advice for your flights, please contact our dedicated team of travel experts on 0800 082 9994 (or +44 800 082 9994 outside the UK) or email frontier@flightcentre.co.uk .


For fast, efficient and up-to-date visa advice please contact our recommended visa consultancy partner:

Depending on your destination country and your country of origin, you might require a visa. Please see the appropriate country consular website for details or contact our affiliate visa consultancy service. Please note that your visa will usually start on the date that you enter the destination country regardless of when it was issued. Please check with the relevant embassy or high commission. If you are purchasing your visa or paying entry/exit fees in-country you will probably need to pay in US Dollars. If you have any questions please consult the relevant embassy or high commission. Please check the visa information regularly, as changes often happen without warning.


You'll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the project. You won't be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you're covered for the whole duration of your trip – from the day you leave the UK to the day you return. It's also best to get your travel insurance at the same time as paying the deposit for your project. Depending on your policy, this will cover you for any unexpected cancellations.

Your insurance should include the following:

  • Medical cover, including medical emergencies and medical evacuations (up to USD$3,000,000 / GBP£2,000,000);
  • Personal liability (up to USD$1,500,000 / GBP£1,000,000);
  • Cancellation and curtailment of your trip (up to the value of your project contribution).

If you are going to be scuba diving you should get coverage for scuba diving up to 30m, including hyperbaric therapy treatment (unlimited). You should consider obtaining insurance to cover you for any additional activities which you plan to do during, before, or after your Frontier project. We recommend that you obtain cover for your baggage and personal effects.

Frontier Partner Projects and Frontier group projects are run in partnership with in-country NGOs, small community based organisations, local research institutes, academic organisations and conservation agencies. Project descriptions and information are supplied directly by our partners or field staff and are accurate at time of publishing.

We aim to keep information up to date and accurate, however, the nature of our projects and in particular the fact that they are constantly evolving and developing in response to changing needs means that project activities, travel schedules, tour itineraries and daily timetables can change overnight and without notice.

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.

Apply Now Call me back