Malawi with Wilderness Safaris

When to go?

Even within this small, narrow country, there are differences in climate and elevation, leading to some anomalies i.e. the north occasionally experiences summer rains and Zomba and Nyika can experience mist and drizzle throughout the year. 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 therefore much warmer.

It is important to remember that while game viewing can never be guaranteed, there are some trends that can be seen when we combine our knowledge of seasons, habitats and water availability with animal distribution, their numbers, and thus where they can be found. The table below gives some insight into these trends. For more details, it is best to speak to your Journey Specialist or a seasoned Africa expert.

  • Transition Season Highlights

  • Green Season Highlights

  • Dry Season Highlights

  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
Green Season - December To March

Nyika National Park

In the summer months, Nyika can be likened to the temperate Northern Hemisphere where summer showers transform the highlands into rolling grasslands swathed in green. This is also the time for flowering orchids and other alpine flowers. Misty mornings add further atmosphere. Impending storms provide some of Nyika’s most dramatic skies and scenery as the green vegetation contrasts with blue-grey rain clouds. Impressive herds of grazers like roan, eland and Crawshay’s zebra concentrate on the fresh grasses. Migrant bird viewing is also at its peak. Large flocks of blue swallows (most important population of this species in Africa), displaying montane widowbird, pallid and Montagu’s harrier and Angola swallow can all be seen in the grassland areas. Forest birding is also the most productive with these birds being more vocal and breeding at this time. There are excellent photographic opportunities – great light, colour and subject matter.

Liwonde National Park

Anyone visiting at this time is greeted with lush summer scenes of the picturesque Shire River Valley. Large elephant herds and other game species are still seen on the Shire River floodplain and in the woodland areas. Breeding frogs and antelope births herald a season of abundance.  The prolific resident bird population is bolstered by many summer migrant species. This is one of the prime birding destinations in Africa and summer is the best season to experience avian diversity to the max with visitors like gullible tern and possibly even African pitta (December) if there are abundant rains!

Lake Malawi

The low-lying areas around the Lake also receive most of their rains during this period, with the weather usually hot between afternoon thundershowers – perfect for relaxing on the Lake beaches or other lakeside activities. The surrounding landscapes are also lush and green; however the water at this time is affected by the rains, making diving and snorkelling challenging.

Transition Season - April To May; November

Most of the rain is over by April and May, leaving a landscape that now begins to dry out. At this time, the climate is moderate with the best of the green and dry seasons. By comparison, November can be quite capricious: It can either be hot and dry or can start receiving the first rains.

Nyika National Park

This is a spectacular time for Nyika. The days are warm with no rain and temperatures falling in the evenings. The roads should all be accessible in the north. Bird and game viewing is good, from herds of plains game to carnivores.

Liwonde National Park

Glorious days, the rains have lessened, the park is still green, meaning that game viewing is good. The roads should be open with drive-in access into the park. The evenings are cooler and the days warm. Birding is excellent. Hippo and crocodiles are constants on and in the Shire River.

Lake Malawi

A lovely time of the year for the Lake, with days that are clear and warm with no rain. The wind can still pick up on the water but other than this, it is a great time for lake and beach activities.

Dry Season - June To October

Cooler and drier time of the year with daytime temperatures rising towards October.

Nyika National Park

Mid-winter days still warm but the evenings can be very cold. Drier vegetation makes for good game viewing. Predator sightings, while never guaranteed, are consistent at this time, such as leopard, serval and spotted hyaena. A range of birds that are resident here include Denham’s bustard and red-winged francolin.

Liwonde National Park

Less water around results in high game concentrations and density, with the Shire River becoming a magnet for herds of elephant, buffalo, impala, reedbuck, waterbuck and kudu, while the majestic sable haunts the mopane woodlands just beyond the floodplain. Even in winter, there are some 300 bird species to be seen here, like the rare brown-breasted barbet, Pel’s fishing-owl, Lilian’s lovebird and Livingstone’s flycatcher. By October, the days become very hot, but the vegetation is dry; this last factor makes for the best game viewing in the year. Some summer migrant birds start to arrive.

Lake Malawi

From July to September, the winds pick up over the Lake, but on the other hand, the underwater visibility is outstanding and the water temperature is still good – both perfect for freshwater scuba and snorkelling to see the myriad kinds of cichlid species. Mid-winter days are still warm with cooler evenings, days becoming a bit hazier resulting in spectacular sunsets. In October, the days are very hot and evenings warm, and the Lake begins to calm.