Malawi with Wilderness Safaris

Travel Advice for Malawi

Malawi is a long, thin landlocked country, surrounded by Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania.

Full name: Republic of Malawi
Capital: Lilongwe
Population: 17.5 million (2014)
Geographical coordinates: 13 30 S, 34 00 E
Area: 118 480 sq. km / 45 745 sq. mi
Time: +2 hours GMT

Climate and Seasonality

January to March - Hot and wet.

April to May - Warm days and cool evenings, clear skies after the rains and should be calm on the lake. Possibility of light rains.

June to July - Warm days. Cool to cold evenings. By July the lake can become windy.

August - Warm to hot days. Cool nights and winds on the lake.

September to October - Hot to very hot days. Lake calming down with warm evenings.

November to December - Either hot and wet or hot and dry.


Temperatures vary from below freezing (at night on the high plateau in winter - July) to 38°C (in the Lower Shire Valley in summer - December). To generalise is difficult but through much of the year temperatures during the day are usually in the mid-20s. In the short hot season, November-December, maximum temperatures may rise to the lower 30s. Lake Malawi's surface temperatures vary from about 24°C to 28°C.

There are a couple of anomalies that can occur i.e. the rains should stop in April and return in November but the north occasionally experiences summer rains and Zomba and Nyika can experience mist and drizzle throughout the year. Winds can brew up on the lake at any time. Zomba and Nyika National Park are at a higher altitude and are always chilly in the evenings, no matter what time of year. Lake Malawi and Mvuu are all at an altitude of about 400 metres above sea level and will be much warmer.

What to pack

  • Sunblock, sun hat and good quality sunglasses
  • Camera with waterproof/dustproof bag/cover
  • Good walking shoes (tennis shoes are fine)
  • Malaria tablets (if applicable)
  • Warm Anorak or Parka and scarf / gloves for winter
Download Packing list in PDF

Health and Safety

Malawi is a friendly country; however, it is sensible to take basic precautions whilst travelling anywhere in the world. We advise that you ask Tourist Information Officers, camp/lodge and hotel staff and local residents about areas to avoid.

Wilderness Safaris camps in Malawi are situated in malaria-risk areas; please consult your medical practitioner regarding any anti-malarials. Please check with your health department/travel clinic prior to departure, in the event there have been changes in the health regulations of the country you are visiting.

Passports and Visas

Visitors to Africa must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended departure date, together with onward travel documents, proof of accommodation and sufficient funds for the duration of your stay. Please also ensure that you have sufficient blank visa pages (not endorsement pages) in your passport, with at least 2 consecutive/side by side blank pages. Our recommendation is 3 pages (or even 4 if you are travelling through more than one country on your journey).

Please speak to your Africa specialist to ensure that you have any appropriate travel documentation before departing on safari.

Banks and Foreign Exchange

Malawi banks, as well as Wilderness camps, accept US Dollars, GBP Sterling, Euro and South African Rand in cash. MasterCard and Visa are usually accepted throughout Malawi, but Diners Club and American Express are not. The currency is the Malawi Kwacha (MK).

Languages

Chichewa is the official language; however English is widely spoken.

Recommended Reading

We recommend the following books specific to the Malawian region. A further list of recommended books is contained in our general pre tour information.

  • A guide to the Fishes of Lake Malawi - Lewis, Reinthal and Tendall
  • Malawi - Lake of the Stars - Frank Johnson
  • Venture into the Interior - Laurens van der Post
  • Livingstone - T. Jeal
  • Livingstone's Lake - O. Ransford
  • Birds of Africa south of the Sahara - Ian Sinclair, Peter Ryan
  • Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals - Jonathan Kingdon
  • The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals - Jonathan Kingdon
  • Malawi The Bradt Travel Guide - Philip Briggs
  • Behaviour Guide to African Mammals - Richard Estes
  • Field Guide to the larger mammals of Africa - Chris & Tilde Stuart