Destinations

Malawi

Explore an astonishingly diverse land from the famous lake to glossy forests and animal-filled parks.

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Malawi

Dubbed the friendliest country in Africa, Malawi offers holiday a holiday that is the perfect add-on to any southern African safari. For a good dose of R&R, head to Lake Malawi. Known as the "Lake of Stars", the shimmering expanse of water is one of the largest lakes on the continent – so big, in fact, that you'd be forgiven for thinking you were beside the Indian Ocean. Here, it’s time for freshwater diving, snorkelling, fishing, kayaking or just some good old-fashioned beach time on the sandy shores. For something more active, the dramatic peaks of Mount Mulanje and the Zomba Plateau in the south provide incredible hiking opportunities. Venture further north to the Nyika Plateau and some beautiful walking trails through the rolling grasslands.


Why you'll love it

We have no idea why, but Malawi never seems to be at the top of the travel list. Use this to your advantage and discover a country of unspoilt, natural beauty, unparalleled solitude and the exceptionally friendly people that call it home.


Off the beaten track

In the south of the country, the rolling tea plantations are watched over by the ever present Mulanje Mountain. Take a break from sipping tea, and trek to the peak through beautiful forested valleys and misty gorges – very Lord of the Rings.


Something to think about

Don’t go to Malawi expecting huge hordes of game around every corner. Even in the wildlife areas, this is a laid-back sort of place that’s all about soaking up the atmosphere and really chilling the heck out.

When to go

January

Season: Wet
  • Often the wettest month of the year, with relatively high temperatures and long nights of rain.
  • This is a risky time of year for a beach holiday with unpredictable weather.
  • Enjoy exceptional year round diving and snorkelling with warm waters and clarities that never drop below 15 meters.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

February

Season: Wet
  • A very wet month with regular nightly rainfall and high daytime temperatures.
  • This is a risky time of year for a beach holiday with unpredictable weather.
  • Lake Malawi has exceptional year round diving and snorkelling with warm waters and clarities that never drop below 15 meters.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

March

Season: Wet
  • Rainfall begins to decline although is still reasonably high during this month, with showers usually occurring over night and daytime temperatures being relatively hot.
  • The unpredictability of the weather makes this destination a gamble for a beach holiday.
  • With a wide variety of cichlids (tropical fish), take advantage of the unique lake diving and snorkelling, enjoying warm waters and clarities of no less than 15 meters.
  • There is an activity for every moment of the day on Lake Malawi, including kite boarding, kayaking, water skiing or even learning to sail.
  • Take a quad biking trip on Likoma Island, an area known for its cultural scenes and an impressive cathedral.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

April

Season: Wet
  • The wet season is coming to an end, with temperatures still hot but dropping as rainfall decreases with each passing day.
  • Take advantage of the first dry days of the season by heading to the white sandy beaches of Lake Malawi.
  • Enjoy exceptional year round diving and snorkelling with warm waters and clarities that never drop below 15 meters.
  • There are numerous activities available on Lake Malawi, such as kite boarding, kayaking, water skiing or even learning to sail.
  • Explore Likoma Island on a quad biking trip, taking in the cultural scenes and an impressive cathedral.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

May

Season: Dry
  • The dry season has began, rainfall subsides and the temperatures are hot but dropping.
  • The ideal time of year to relax on the tropical shores of Lake Malawi.
  • Lake Malawi has exceptional year round diving and snorkelling with warm waters and clarities that never drop below 15 meters.
  • With so many water activities available on Lake Malawi, including kite boarding, kayaking, water skiing and sailing, there won't be a moment to waste.
  • Likoma Island is best explored by quad bike, with friendly locals, cultural scenes and a large cathedral.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

June

Season: Dry
  • The dry season is in full swing with slightly cooler temperatures and little to no rain expected.
  • Take advantage of pristine weather, relaxing on the beaches of Lake Malawi.
  • With a wide variety of cichlids (tropical fish), take advantage of the unique lake diving and snorkelling, enjoying warm waters and clarities of no less than 15 meters.
  • There is an activity for every moment of the day on Lake Malawi, including kite boarding, kayaking, water skiing or even learning to sail.
  • Take a quad biking trip on Likoma Island, an area known for its cultural scenes and an impressive cathedral.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

July

Season: Dry
  • Temperatures are cooler with almost no chance of rain.
  • A wonderful time of year for lounging on the picturesque beaches of Lake Malawi.
  • Enjoy exceptional year round diving and snorkelling with warm waters and clarities that never drop below 15 meters.
  • Take advantage of the numerous activities available on Lake Malawi such as kite boarding, kayaking, water skiing or even learn to sail.
  • Explore Likoma Island on a quad biking trip, taking in the cultural scenes and an impressive cathedral.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

August

Season: Dry
  • Temperatures are ideal, with only a couple of days rainfall across the whole month.
  • A great time for recliner relaxation on the white sandy beaches of Lake Malawi.
  • With a wide variety of cichlids (tropical fish), take advantage of the unique lake diving and snorkelling, enjoying warm waters and clarities of no less than 15 meters.
  • With so many water activities available on Lake Malawi, including kite boarding, kayaking, water skiing and sailing, there won't be a moment to waste.
  • Likoma Island is best explored by quad bike, with friendly locals, cultural scenes and a large cathedral.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

September

Season: Dry
  • The end of the dry season is approaching with temperatures and humidity beginning to climb in this month and little to no chance of rainfall.
  • At this time of the year, Lake Malawi provides the perfect setting for island relaxation and care free living.
  • The best time for diving or snorkelling with warm water temperatures and incredible dive clarity of up to 25 meters during this month.
  • Take advantage of the numerous activities available on Lake Malawi such as kite boarding, kayaking, water skiing or even learn to sail.
  • Take a quad biking trip on Likoma Island, an area known for its cultural scenes and an impressive cathedral.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

October

Season: Dry
  • This is one of the hottest months of the year with the first afternoon showers occurring towards the end of the month.
  • Take advantage of the end of the dry season by reclining on the beach, icy cocktail in hand.
  • The best time for diving or snorkelling with warm water temperatures and incredible dive clarity of up to 25 meters during this month.
  • There are numerous activities available on Lake Malawi such as kite boarding, kayaking, water skiing or even learn to sail.
  • Explore Likoma Island on a quad biking trip, taking in the cultural scenes and an impressive cathedral.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

November

Season: Dry
  • The start of the wet season with sporadic rainfall, usually in the form of late afternoon showers.
  • This month is usually a gamble for beach relaxation with long hours of glowing sunlight but the potential for rain is ever present.
  • The best time for diving or snorkelling with warm water temperatures and incredible dive clarity of up to 25 meters during this month.
  • There is an activity for every moment of the day on Lake Malawi, including kite boarding, kayaking, water skiing or even learning to sail.
  • Explore Likoma Island on a quad biking trip, taking in the cultural scenes and an impressive cathedral.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

December

Season: Wet
  • Approaching the peak of the wet season, temperatures are relatively high with regular rainfall in the form of heavy showers.
  • This is a risky time of year for a beach holiday with high humidity, temperatures and rainfall.
  • Diving and snorkelling conditions are prime in early early December, with warm water and a clarity of 25 meters, this tails of towards the end of the month but is never bad.
  • Take a quad biking trip on Likoma Island, an area known for its cultural scenes and an impressive cathedral.
  • Don't forget to pack sun block and a hat, Africa has a powerful sun year round.

Need to know

Getting there

Malawi has two international airports: Kamuzu in Lilongwe (LLW), and Chileka in Blantyre (BLZ). Good connections exist between Malawi and regional hubs in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Addis Ababa and Lusaka. Depending on your arrival time you may have to overnight before catching a connecting flight to your first safari camp/hotel.

International flights
We would recommend booking your flights online in order to get the best rates. If you need any help or advice please let us know.

Domestic flights and transfers
Connecting between all the locations on your trip may necessitate a variety of modes: light aircraft charters, domestic commercial flights and road transfers. Please review the inclusions and exclusions on your specific trip page for details. If you need help understanding the best flights to book, please let us know.

From the moment that you land in Malawi you will be greeted and assisted to your onward connections. You will be looked after from that point on until you are transferred back to the airport in time for your departure flight.

Health

Please consult your personal physician and/or a travel clinic preferably 6 weeks prior to your departure. Vaccine requirements vary based on your country of origin and your travel itinerary and your previous vaccination history. It is best to consult with your physician or the CDC website for guidelines.

Important vaccinations to consider and which may either be required or recommended are: Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B and Cholera, among others. Please always carry your "International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP)" (or "Yellow Card") with you.

Malaria

We advise that you consult a medical practitioner at least six weeks prior to travel. Malaria is present in Malawi and it is strongly advisable to take malaria prophylactics before, during and after your visit. Please consult a medical professional regarding which prophylactics will be suitable for you.

In addition to the recommendations of your travel clinic or physician, you may also consider the following proactive preventative measures:

Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Recommended repellents contain 20-35% DEET but it is a very virulent repellent, and should be used cautiously.
Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants at dawn and dusk, as well as closed shoes.
Use a mosquito net if your tent or room isn't screened or air-conditioned; and spray insecticide or burn a mosquito coil before going to bed.
If you come down with flu-like symptoms either during or within four to six weeks after your visit to a malaria area, seek a doctor's advice immediately and let him/her know that you have been in a malaria area.

You can also visit www.malaria.org.za for more information.

Yellow Fever

There is no risk of Yellow Fever in Malawi; however, vaccination is required for travellers who are arriving from, or have transited through, countries with risk of Yellow Fever transmission (e.g. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda or elsewhere worldwide). This requirement can change unexpectedly, therefore, we recommend carrying a Yellow Fever card with you at all times.

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover yourself, as well as any dependents/travelling companions for the duration of your trip. This insurance should include cover in respect of, but not limited to, the following eventualities:

Compulsory Insurance:

a. Emergency evacuation expenses

b. Medical expenses

c. Repatriation expenses

Recommended Insurance:

a. Cancellation or curtailment of trip

b. Damage/theft/loss of personal luggage, money and goods

Communication

Malawi country code: +265

Calling overseas from Malawi:

From a landline dial 00 followed by the country code plus area code and number.

e.g. USA: 00 1 910 795 1048

When calling from a cell phone dial + prefix followed by the country code plus area code and number. e.g. USA: + 1 910 795 1048

Visas

As a general precaution, we recommend you make several copies of your travel-related documents (passport, traveller’s cheques, credit cards, itinerary, airline tickets, insurance cover, visas, etc). Leave one set at home, and bring another set with you, and place it in a location separate from your originals.

A valid passport, with at least six months to expiry date from intended exit date, is required to enter Malawi. If your passport is likely to expire you should get a new one before arriving. Passport holders of many countries require visas and the ability to obtain it on arrival varies depending on country of origin. Travellers from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Schengen member states, Australia and New Zealand among others may all obtain visas on arrival for USD $75 (single entry visa). Exempt from this visa fee are countries belonging to SADC and COMESA; with the exception of those countries that charge visa fees to Malawian nationals.

Please inform yourself with the visa requirements of Malawi at least 6 weeks prior to travel. Additional information is available online at http://www.immigration.gov.mw/visa.html

Money

Malawi’s official currency is the Malawian Kwacha (MWK). Visitors are only permitted to export MWK10, 000 on departure from Malawi so we recommend keeping your Kwacha to a minimum as it is very difficult to buy hard currency on departure. For current foreign exchange rates please visit the link http://www.natbank.co.mw/. A number of major banks accept Visa and MasterCard transactions through their ATM network across the country. Lodges, Hotels and Tour Operators accept credit cards; however, guests can expect to pay anything up to 8% in service fees when settling accounts using credit cards. It is advisable to have some cash for smaller shops and for tipping.

IMPORTANT: When bringing foreign currency (e.g. USD, GBP, EUR) into the country, be sure to bring new format with no damage or marks.

What to pack

Climate

In general, the seasons are divided into the cool and dry (May to Mid-August); the hot and dry (Mid-August to November); the rainy (November to April). However, the variety of altitudes in Malawi means that the temperatures and amount of rainfall varying considerable throughout the country. The ultra violet rays are very strong and high factor sun cream should be worn.

Dress Code

Standard clothing is acceptable in Malawi and dependent on the climate. Be sure to take sun cream because the sun gets very strong in the summer months.

When on safari, light layers of clothing in neutral safari colours of green, khaki and beige are the best items to bring with you, as well as a warmer jacket or fleece for the colder evenings. A hat is also a must have! Bright and dark colours like yellow, red and purple are discouraged, or sometimes not allowed (on a bush walk) on safari.

What to Pack

Layers - long and short sleeve shirts and trousers
A warm fleece or jumper
A lightweight waterproof jacket
Comfortable but sturdy shoes
Flip-flops
Swimming costume
A hat or baseball cap
Sunglasses
Sunscreen – a must!
Toiletries – most camps will provide shampoo, shower gel and soap
A small torch
Spare batteries, plug adaptors and charging equipment
A good pair of Binoculars
Books or a fully loaded Kindle / iPad for siesta time

Camera Equipment (for the enthusiasts)

A telephoto lens (200/300mm)
Flash and fast film (400 ASA) for night photography
Lots of film (64,100,200,400 ASA) if you’re using an SLR cameras
Spare memory cards for digital cameras
Camera cleaning equipment and a good dust proof bag
Bring spare batteries as although you may recharge your batteries at the camps, charging capacity can be limited
Most camps and lodges will have a small medical and first aid kit, but we recommend bringing your own supply of essentials - cough medicine, plasters, vitamins, aspirin and paracetamol, and anything else you use on a regular basis.

Luggage

Please check with your airlines for the specific luggage restrictions relevant to your flight schedule. Many international airlines have a baggage allowance of 20kgs or more per person and commercial airlines generally permit two (2) pieces of checked luggage per person. The carry-on bag must be of such dimensions and weight as set by the airlines.

Luggage Restrictions on Internal Flights

On safari, light aircraft flight luggage is strictly limited to one SOFT duffle bag and one small carry on. The combined weight must not exceed 20kgs/44lbs, unless otherwise noted in your personal itinerary.

Electricity

Malawian electricity is 220/230 volts AC running at 50Hz. The plug type used is the square bayonet 3 pin style (like UK). Please remember that most of the more remote camps and lodges will not run off mains electricity but will use generators. This means that recharging batteries etc. may not always be possible. Please travel with spare batteries. Malawi does suffer from erratic power supplies and guests visiting the country can expect power load shedding and cuts to major cities which can last for several hours.

Gratuities

Gratuities are not compulsory or expected; rather it is an reward for excellent service. If you are pleased with the service you receive, you are more than welcome to tip your guide or the staff. Tipping is usually done at the end of your stay. You may tip the staff individually, give the tip to the manager to distribute or do both. Tips can be made in the local currency, USD, GBP or EUR.

Gratuities suggestions:

Safari Camp lead guide: $10 - $15 per person per day

Transfer drivers (e.g. in cities or between airport and hotel/lodge): $2 per person per transfer

Porter: $1 per bag

Ranger or any “ancillary” guides on ad-hoc basis for a specific activity: $3 - $5 per person per activity

General Camp staff (put in a central box in each camp’s main area): $7 - $10 per person per day

Waitstaff in a city restaurant: 10%-15% (large group may incur automatic service charge, please check)

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