Often billed as ‘the warm heart of Africa’, Malawi offers something for all visitors.
One of the most beautiful and laid-back countries in Africa, Malawi is known as a destination for those looking for adventure, recreational or eco-tourist attractions.
Malawi’s landscape is beautiful and varied, and Malawians are generally extremely friendly to travelers. Nature lovers will love the national parks and game reserves, mountain hikes, and plateau trekking.
Top tips for Malawi Travel
Travel through Malawi
Malawi’s road network is fairly well established, with most major routes. Bus transportation is a viable option, with express and luxury coach options and boat trips being a much-loved favorite.
For those looking for a more extensive African adventure, there are a number of overland tour operators who operate tours in different countries, giving travelers a chance to truly experience the spirit of Africa and enjoy a variety of experiences.
With a large and diverse range of tribal backgrounds among the people of Malawi, it is understandable that many travelers are concerned about such things as accepted behaviors and conventions. Luckily for visitors to this African paradise, Malawian society is well integrated and visitors don’t have to worry too much about social differences.
Malawians are “people who shake hands”. They generally value shaking hands when meeting and greeting. In some parts of society, men exercise a special handshake, grabbing the thumb and putting the left hand on the forearm – foreigners probably shouldn’t try this, but if you’re there and you see it you’ll know what it’s about is going. Women and children can also bow as a greeting or as a sign of gratitude.
In general, Malawians tend towards the conventional side in their clothing. It is advisable to dress modestly, but in such a relaxed society there are of course no set rules and it is probably better to just dress appropriately for your intended activity; a day at the beach requires beachwear and a safari trip requires long sleeves and long trousers.
Climate and weather
Winter, the dry season, is the best time to visit and lasts from May to October. June and July are the coldest months with a very comfortable average daily temperature of 21 ° C. The dry season also offers excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and walking.
The warm, humid rainy season, from November to April, ensures higher temperatures of around 30 ºC. The rainfall is concentrated on the higher plateaus and some roads become impassable after very heavy rains.
The Malawian Kwacha is the locally used currency. It is freely convertible at a rate of approximately 137 Kwacha in the US dollar. US dollars are also easily accepted, especially for larger purchases.
It’s also worth noting that neighboring Zambia’s currency, also known as Kwacha, is worth a fraction of the Malawian Kwacha, so travelers should beware.
Credit cards are accepted to a certain extent, but only by the major brands such as Visa and MasterCard and only by the larger hotels or companies that are specifically aimed at tourists. In general, it is safer to assume that your card is not easily accepted.
Travelers’ checks are also not always easy to exchange. Some banks, Forex agencies, and the best hotels may do that, but cash in the US is probably a better option.
Malawi is an area with malaria risk. To minimize the risk of mosquito bites, wear light, long-sleeved clothing and use an effective insect repellent (which works well with Diethyltoluamide DEET) on exposed skin.
Sleep under treated mosquito mesh or make sure your property’s doors and windows are shielded from mosquitoes. Having a fan or air conditioning at night will limit mosquito activity to some degree.
Currently, the three most effective antimalarial drugs are Mefloquine (Lariam or Mefliam), Doxycycline, and Malarone (Malani). Certain medications can cause side effects and should be taken for some time before you are exposed to the risk, so check with your doctor or travel health center well before you plan to leave.
Must-see sights of Malawi
Lilongwe – This, the Malawian capital, is known for the old town, home to market stalls, quaint cafes and restaurants, and the new town, which is home to offices and shops.
Blantyre-Located in the southern part of Malawi, Blantyre – Blantyre is considered to be the center of commerce and industry in the country. Interesting for beer lovers, it is home to the Carlsberg brewery and has a range of restaurants and accommodation options.
Lake Malawi – probably the most famous of Malawi’s tourist attractions, Lake Malawi is also known as Lake Nyassa and ‘Livingstone’s Lake’ (after the famous explorer David Livingstone). It is the southernmost lake in the Great African Rift Valley.
The lake, approximately 560 km long and with a total area of nearly 30,000 km², is bordered by Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania and is a source of a territorial dispute between Malawi and Tanzania.
Lake Malawi is home to a wider variety of native fish species than any other lake in the world, making it very popular with divers and snorkelers.
The peaceful blue waters and beautiful golden beaches make for great retreats for those seeking peace and relaxation. Water sports such as kayaking; canoeing, windsurfing and water skiing are available for those looking for a more active source of fun.
The crew of the overland adventure travel company Oasis Overland has extensive knowledge of Africa, the Middle East, and South America. Their philosophy is to provide value-conscious travelers with excellent value for money without compromising their experiences and providing quality vehicles, equipment, and crew. Traveling in Malawi is covered by several oasis African Tours including the Cairo to Cape Town, Savanna Dawn, Coast to Coast, Apes & Lakes and Grand Adventurer tour options.