Travelers can visit Malawi the whole year through, however it is good to keep in mind the pros and cons of the different seasons. Malawi has a hot summer rainfall season from November to early April so the best time to visit is during the dry local winter months – April to late October. Winter gets chilly high up on the northern Nyika Plateau but down on the shore of Lake Malawi you can expect warm, sunny, and dry days – great beach weather! This is also when to go to Malawi for the best game viewing – much of the vegetation has thinned out and animals are concentrated at rivers and permanent waterholes.
In the mid-summer months of January and February, temperatures can get uncomfortably hot and humid; rainfall is at its highest – and so is the risk of malaria – while some of the roads in the national parks become impassable.
For Malawi, recommended vaccinations are DTP, and vaccination against hepatitis A/B. Malaria occurs Malawi, especially in the wet season so prophylaxis is recommended. Ask your local health services for the most updated advice on vaccinations and preventative care.
Currently, persons from 34 countries are given visa-free access to Malawi. However, citizens from most western countries and all EU countries do need to apply for a tourism visa prior to their visit, which will be valid 90 days.
Nowadays, this can be done online via: https://www.evisa.gov.mw/ in order to complete the e-visa application, you will need to scan the following documents and upload them to your application:
Copy of passport details page
Evidence of stay in Malawi (booking confirmation tour or accommodation reservation)
If you are applying on behalf of or as a minor or for a minor, you will also need to scan and upload:
The minor's unabridged birth certificate
The minor's legal guardian's passport page
The local currency in Malawi is the Kwacha although US Dollars are widely accepted throughout the country. Credit card acceptance is improving but do not rely on it in Malawi’s more remote or less visited destinations. For your daily expenses it is always important to have a wallet with smaller bills and keep the rest of your cash separated and out of sight.
Especially when you spend several days in more remote areas, like wild parks, ensure you have enough cash on you. Foreign exchange services are not easy to find. Furthermore, it is recommended to take a ‘mix’ of means for payment, including cash (USD), a debit card and a credit card (VISA or MasterCard). There are always cases in which you cannot pay with your normal debit card.
There are ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) in the larger destinations of Malawi. Remember that for every transaction you will be charged additional banking fees. Also do not forget to change the security settings of your bankcards to ‘Worldwide’ if necessary – ask your local bank for instructions.
There are many good guidebooks about Malawi, such as the Rough Guide, Lonely Planet and Bradt. For those guides that are specifically about Malawi’s nature you can always visit a local bookstore.
Ensure that you are well prepared to have a secure journey. The chance that something happens to you or your family before or during the trip is small, however, it is important to get the right insurance. It can save you costs and a lot of trouble! We strongly recommend a travel and cancellation insurance, so that any unexpected costs due to illness or accidents, costs of replacing stolen or lost baggage or necessary repatriation are covered.
We advise you to contact your local insurance agent or bank for information about the possibilities. Also, we recommend that you contact your healthcare provider to inform you about the coverage of possible medical expenses.
Camera with extra SD card
Cap or hat
CD’s or USB with African beats
Water bottle with filter
Malawi guarantees you the most beautiful pictures. For the real hobbyists, a telephoto lens is a must for wildlife-photography. However, keep some rules in mind while taking pictures. If you want to take pictures of people, always ask for their permission first. Especially at places that are popular for tourists, locals may ask for money for a picture. Negotiate friendly and do not secretly take a picture.
Malawi observes Central Africa Time (CAT) all year. Daylight Saving Time is currently not applicable.
As is common around the world, tipping in Malawi is completely voluntary and dependent on the quality of the service you have received. At Explore Malawi, we believe that good service should be rewarded, but you should also be mindful of the potential impact that tipping may have on the local community. Tips can make a large difference to those in the service industry, such as waiters, guides, and trackers. However, there’s a fine line between the right amount to tip and tipping too much: excessive tips can really affect the balance of the local economy.
In restaurants it is usual to give a gratuity of about 5-10% of your bill. Drivers and guides also appreciate a gratuity as this is often not just an extra, but most often forms part of their salary which a family lives from. In guesthouses and hotels, you will mostly find a ‘tip-box’ for gratuity which is then shared amongst everybody, as also the gardener contributes to you having a comfortable stay. People that do you a favor in public, like cleaning your window or watch your car, would normally receive gratuity too.
Wake up with the sound of singing birds and the trumpeting of Elephants while first rays of sunlight turn the dark night into a golden burst of color.
While you are enjoying your breakfast, your personal guide is preparing the car before you hit the road. You will be taken through far stretching landscapes and ever-changing sceneries while enjoying some good African music on the background.
You are on the lookout for wildlife crossing the road and with some luck may have to give ‘right of way’ for some elephants.
You arrive at your next destination, join a game drive and see many antelopes and some big game up close. After the excitement, a refreshing swim in the pool followed with some relaxation and a good book under the shades of huge acacia trees.
At sunset, this landscape shows its most beautiful side. Make some time to watch this natural wonder of changing colors see how shadows grow longer; listen to the howling of the hyena calling in the ending of another adventurous day in Malawi.
Time for dinner around a roaring campfire complimented by fine South African wine or an ice-cold beer?
Finally, fully satisfied, fall asleep under the starry sky and the sound of chirping crickets knowing that Malawi waits for tomorrow, with more adventures and unforgettable memories.
The cuisine of Malawi has not been influenced by many other cultures, and as a result, it has remained very traditional. There are many farmers in Malawi and the population grows much of its own food. The country is known for its ‘tuck shops’, small shops found in rural areas that sell a variety of snack foods. These foods include meat pies, sausage rolls, bunny chow (rolls that have been deep fried and stuffed with a mix of curry meat and potato mix. Lake Malawi is not only a popular tourist destination, it is also a source of great fresh fish that is the country’s specialty.
Tea is the second largest export crop in Malawi and as such, it is of an incredibly high quality. It is advisable to Avoid drinking tap water, but to drink bottled water instead when travelling through Malawi. Of course, South-African wine is sold in abundance and is of high quality and also Malawian Gin is popular. Good beers are more commonly brewed in Malawi and Carlsberg is the most common beer in the country.
In Malawi the standard voltage is 220/230V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. The power plugs and sockets are of type G. A European multi-plug adapter comes in handy if you want to charge more than one device at the same time. Although power failures are unusual, a flashlight or headlamp is very useful at night.
The international code for Malawi if you are dialing from abroad is +265. Telephone calls within Malawi are inexpensive and the network between main cities is reliable.
Cheap local SIM cards work in foreign phones on roaming and, especially on the Airtel network, are good for calls and data usage. SIMs and credit are widely available.