Malawi
Malawi

Amazing Wildlife

Malawi, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa, is defined by its topography of highlands split by the Great Rift Valley and enormous Lake Malawi.
Photo by Craig Manners

MALAWI

Africa

Malawi Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Lilongwe

Location:

Southern Africa, east of Zambia, west and north of Mozambique

Currency:

Malawian kwachas (MWK)

Area:

118,484 sq km

Population:

20,308,502 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

English (official), Chewa (common), Lambya, Lomwe, Ngoni, Nkhonde, Nyakyusa, Nyanja, Sena, Tonga, Tumbuka, Yao

Religion:

Protestant 33.5% (includes Church of Central Africa Presbyterian 14.2%, Seventh Day Adventist/Baptist 9.4%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Anglican 2.3%), Roman Catholic 17.2%, other Christian 26.6%, Muslim 13.8%, traditionalist 1.1%, other 5.6%, none 2.1% (2018 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+2

Tel Code:

+265

Weather

Climate

Malawi is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa, and it has a tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. The country has two main seasons: the rainy season (November to April) and the dry season (May to October).

During the rainy season, the country experiences heavy rainfall and high humidity, while the dry season is characterized by less rainfall and lower humidity. The temperature during the year ranges between 20°C - 30°C (68°F - 86°F)

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Malawi depends on the type of activities you want to do and your preferences. The dry season, from May to October, is considered the best time to visit as the weather is more stable and the chances of rain are lower. This is also considered the peak tourist season, and the prices for accommodations and activities may be higher.

The rainy season, from November to April, is considered the low season for tourism, but it's also the time when the nature is more lush and the wildlife is more active, making it a great time for nature lovers. The weather during the rainy season is still warm and tropical, with occasional rain showers.

It's worth noting that Malawi is a popular destination for wildlife viewing, and the best time to see the wildlife and bird watching is throughout the year.

Transportation

Air travel

Malawi has several international airports including Kamuzu International Airport (LLW) in Lilongwe, which is the capital city and Chileka International Airport (BLZ) in Blantyre. From there, you can take a domestic flight to reach other destinations in Malawi. Most of the domestic flights are operated by Malawian Airlines, and they connect the main cities and tourist destinations.

Bus travel

Buses are a popular and convenient way to travel around Malawi, with extensive networks of long-distance and local buses that connect most of the cities and towns. Bus travel is relatively inexpensive, safe, but it can be less comfortable than other options.

Car rental

Car rental is a great option for those who want to explore Malawi at their own pace, it's widely available in most cities and towns. It's worth noting that the road conditions can be challenging in some remote areas and it's important to have a valid driver's license and insurance.

Taxis

Taxis are widely available in most cities and towns, and they are a convenient and safe way to get around. It's worth noting that it's best to use a licensed taxi and to agree on the fare before starting the journey.

Motorbike and scooter rental

Motorbike and scooter rental is also an option in Malawi, it's widely available in most cities and towns. It's worth noting that the roads can be challenging and it's essential to have a valid driver's license and insurance, also be aware of the traffic and driving rules.

Accommodation

Hotels

Malawi has a wide range of hotels, from budget-friendly options to luxury resorts. You can find hotels in most of the major cities, towns, and tourist destinations. Many of the hotels in Malawi are eco-friendly and have a strong focus on sustainability.

Guesthouses

Guesthouses are a popular option in Malawi, as they offer comfortable and budget-friendly accommodations. They are typically run by local families, and they offer a unique way to experience the local culture and hospitality.

Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals such as apartments, villas, and houses can be rented on a short-term basis. This is becoming an increasingly popular option in Malawi, and it can be a great option for those looking for more privacy and space.

Tented camps and lodges

Tented camps and lodges are a popular option for those who want to experience the natural beauty of Malawi, they are typically located in the national parks and reserves, and they offer comfortable and eco-friendly accommodations.

Homestays

Homestays are a great way to experience local culture and hospitality. They are typically run by local families, and they offer comfortable and budget-friendly accommodations.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Malawi Closed
Test
Required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Malawi, also known as the "Warm Heart of Africa" is a small landlocked country in southeast Africa, known for its stunning natural beauty and rich culture. From the crystal-clear waters of Lake Malawi to the lush forests of the Viphya Mountains, there is something for everyone in this beautiful country. Here are some of the top things to do in Malawi:

      1. Explore Lake Malawi

      Lake Malawi is the third-largest lake in Africa and is a major attraction in Malawi. The lake is known for its crystal-clear waters and diverse fish species. Visitors can enjoy a variety of water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and boating.

      2. Visit Liwonde National Park

      Liwonde National Park is a top destination for wildlife viewing in Malawi. The park is home to a wide variety of animals such as elephants, lions, leopards, and hippos. Visitors can also go on boat safaris to see crocodiles and some of the over 400 bird species that are found in the park.

      3. Visit Mulanje Massif

      Mulanje Massif is a mountain range in the southern region of Malawi, and it is the highest peak in the country. The mountain offers challenging hikes and beautiful views, and is also home to a number of endemic species of plants and animals.

      4. Explore the Viphya Mountains

      Viphya Mountains are a beautiful and diverse range of mountains located in the northern region of Malawi. The area is known for its forests, waterfalls, and scenic views. Visitors can go hiking, bird watching, and even visit the tea estates.

      5. Visit Kande Beach

      Kande Beach is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, offering a wide range of activities such as swimming, fishing, and boat rides. The beach also offers a variety of accommodation options, making it a great place to relax and unwind.

      6. Visit the Lengwe National Park

      The Lengwe National Park is located in the southern region of Malawi and is known for its diverse wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, and over 350 bird species. Visitors can go on guided walks, safaris and game drives to explore the park.

      7. Visit Chitimba Beach

      Chitimba Beach is a beautiful spot located in the northern region of Malawi, known for its clear waters and stunning views. Visitors can go swimming, fishing, and boating, or simply relax on the beach and enjoy the scenery.

      8. Visit Nkhata Bay

      Nkhata Bay is a small town located on the shores of Lake Malawi, and it is known for its vibrant nightlife and cultural activities. Visitors can take a boat tour to explore the nearby islands, go diving, and snorkeling, or simply relax and enjoy the local bars and restaurants.

      9. Visit Kasungu National Park

      Kasungu National Park is one of Malawi's most popular national parks, known for its diverse wildlife and scenic landscapes. Visitors can go on guided walks and safaris to see elephants, lions, leopards, and a variety of bird species.

      10. Visit Phalombe Tea Estate

      Phalombe Tea Estate is a working tea plantation located in the southern region of Malawi. Visitors can take tours of the plantation, learn about the tea-making process, and even pick tea leaves. The estate also offers accommodation and beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.

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