General Traveller Information
Embassies & Consulates
The Republic of Malawi, also known by its nickname “The Warm Heart of Africa”, is a country in South Eastern Africa, lying within the Great African Rift Valley and bordered by Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania. Composed of 45,747 square miles, the country is about the size of Portugal. Malawi’s Capital City is Lilongwe and Malawi’s commercial center is Blantyre. Malawi is one of the gentlest environments in Africa for the traveler. It is often referred to as “Africa for beginners”. The primary language spoken by Malawians is Chichewa but the country’s official language is English. In most parts of the country English and Chichewa are spoken and understood. Chili Kuti is Chichewa for Where is it? Other languages widely spoken are Tumbuka, Chiyao, Chindali and Chilamba. The vast majority of Malawians are kind, helpful and friendly people. To make a friend for life, just learn a few words of Chichewa, and greet them in their own language. Malawians love it when tourists take the trouble to learn just a few phrases.
Crime, as everywhere, is on the increase but violent crime is still rare. The most prominent feature in Malawi is Lake Malawi, the twelfth largest freshwater lake in the world which is about 580 kilometers long and lies about 460 meters above sea level. Much of Malawi is a plateau varying between 900 to 1,220 m above sea level. The Nyika Plateau up north rises to about 2500 meters, Mount Mulanje 3,050, and the Zomba plateau 2,135 m. The Shire highlands in the south are lower from 610 m to 900 m. In the north there are highlands in the Nyika and Vwanza plateaus. In the South, below the Rift Valley escarpment, one finds the lowlands of the Shire River Valley. Malawi has indigenous animal life that includes Big Cats, Hippos, Elephants, Monkeys, Bats and a variety of birds including parrots, falcons, waterfowl, owls, songbirds, birds of prey and large waders. The predominant vegetation of Malawi is the savannah woodland. Evergreen forests are found in places where ground water is plentiful, such as the river valleys and mountains. Grasslands are mainly found on the high plateau regions.
In the major centers of Malawi, there are many acceptable hotels. Whilst the standards, service and quality is not always to Western levels they are mostly very acceptable indeed. Bed and Breakfasts (BnB, Guest Cottages and Small Guest Lodges are prolific (especially in Blantyre and Lilongwe) and are pretty good value for money. There are no Dormitories type of Accommodation available in Malawi. There are many Lodges around Malawi, particularly around the Lake Malawi towns of Salima, Mangochi, Monkey Bay, Cape MacLear and Senga Bay and they are particularly welcoming to Backpackers. If you like camping and want a South African kind of camping ground/caravan park, you are out of luck. Some of the Country clubs allow camping on their sites as do some of the Lodges and resorts. Camping in the open is seldom fun in Malawi, unless you enjoy being the focus of spectator sport. The local kids will appear from nowhere to enjoy the spectacle of “rich foreigners” crazy enough to choose to sleep in a tent. Overall, Malawi is a great destination to go on holiday and there are many things to see and do.
To view all types of available accommodation in Malawi such as Backpackers, Bed and Breakfast, Cabins/Chalets, Camp Sites, Caravan/RV Sites, Cottages, Dormitories, Gameparks/Reserves, Hotels, Lodges, Motels, Tented Accommodation, Villa and to make booking reservations, please visit our booking page on the following link http://www.chilikutiafrica.com/bookings
The currency used in Malawi is the Malawian Kwacha. You can click on the link for the current rate check www.xe.com
Malawi has a developed but not very extensive banking network. Within major centres one can find many ATM’s and banks, but it is worthwhile to stock up with cash before venturing to outlying places. Whilst more and more establishments are now accepting debit and credit cards one cannot rely on it. Keep cash in reserve.
Malawi has a very diverse cuisine. The most popular cuisine dishes are fish like Chambo, Usipa and Mpasa from Lake Malawi served with tea. Malawians also like to eat Nsima (their staple food made from ground corn) with meat and vegetables for lunch and dinner.
Malawi has Airports (paved and unpaved), Railways (narrow-gauge), Roadways in various conditions (paved and unpaved) and Waterways on Lake Malawi and the Shire River. The Malawian communication infrastructure caters for cell phones, landline telephones, internet connections, radio, television and postal services. There are three mobile phone networks in Malawi namely TNM, Access and Airtel. Coverage is fair to good in most parts of the country. The land line service is barely adequate. If a site lists a cell phone as well as land line numbers the mobile number will normally be better, especially outside the main cities. Data rates are expensive so endeavor to do downloads and updates when Wi-Fi is available.
Electricity supply in Malawi is 220 – 240 volts running at 50Hz. Type – G plugs are used. Malawi has been suffering major electricity supply problems lately. It is advisable to bring plenty of batteries as they are expensive in Malawi. Ensure that you have a car charger for your cell phones, lap tops, tablets etc. as you can’t assume that there will be electricity at your next stop. Not even if it is a major city.
Malawi has beautiful scenic National Parks and Reserves. Reserves and Parks to go and visit while in Malawi would include: The Majete Wildlife Reserve, The Nyika National Park, The Liwonde National Park, Lake Malawi National Park, Kasungu National Park, Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve, Lengwe National Park, Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve and the Nkhotakota Game Reserve. For more information on each of the parks and reserves listed above, please visit the following link http://www.safari.co.za/Malawi_Regional_Info-travel/malawi-liwonde-national-park.html
Malawi has central hospitals, regional and private facilities. There is a variety of infectious diseases present in Malawi such as Diarrhoea, Hepatitis A, Typhoid fever, Malaria, Plague, Schistosomiasis and Rabies thus it is extremely important to visit your doctor ideally 4-6 weeks before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need.
Vaccines and Medicines:
Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need. You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while travelling to any destination. You can ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the U.S. Some vaccines may also be required for your travel.
Routine vaccines: (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/routine)
Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
Hepatitis A: (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/hepatitis-a)
CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Malawi, regardless of where you are eating or staying.
You will need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria. Your doctor can help you decide which medicine is right for you, and also talk to you about other steps you can take to prevent malaria. See more detailed information about malaria in Malawi(https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/yellow-fever-malaria-information-by-country/malawi#seldyfm879).
You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Malawi. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travellers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.
CDC recommends this vaccine for adults who are traveling to areas of active cholera transmission. Cholera is found in most parts of Malawi. Cholera is rare in travellers but can be severe. Certain factors may increase the risk of getting cholera or having severe disease (more information(https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/cholera)). Avoiding unsafe food and water and washing your hands can also prevent cholera.
Hepatitis B: (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/hepatitis-b)
You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so CDC recommends this vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures.
Rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in Malawi, so CDC recommends this vaccine for the following groups:
- Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities (such as camping, hiking, biking, adventure travel, and caving) that put them at risk for animal bites.
- People who will be working with or around animals (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, and researchers).
- People who are taking long trips or moving to Malawi
- Children, because they tend to play with animals, might not report bites, and are more likely to have animal bites on their head and neck.
Yellow Fever: (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/yellow-fever)
There is no risk of yellow fever in Malawi. The government of Malawi requires proof of yellow fever vaccination only if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. This does not include the US. If you are traveling from a country other than the US, check this list to see if you may be required to get the yellow fever vaccine: Countries with risk of yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/yellow-fever#5291).
For more information on recommendations and requirements, see yellow fever recommendations and requirements for Malawi (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/yellow-fever-malaria-information-by-country/malawi#seldyfm879). Your doctor can help you decide if this vaccine is right for you based on your travel plans.
Please note that when traveling on Malawian Roads, driving is on the left-hand lane of the road. All road traffic signs in Malawi are in English. The speed limit inside built up areas in Malawi is 50 km/h (30 mph) and the speed limit outside the built up areas in Malawi is 80 km/h (50 mph).
HOWEVER, There are frequently no signs warning that one is entering or leaving a built up area. This will not stop the police from fining the unwary motorist. The problem is made worse by the absence of definition of a “built up area” We recommend that if you approach an area where there are several huts close to the road that you drop to below 50 Km/h.
Similarly, the absence of other road signs and/or markings will not stop the police from fining you if you inadvertently break a law. Drive carefully and when in doubt, obey any law that may apply.
One should have triangles, high viability vests and at least on fire extinguisher per vehicle. On occasion the police will insist that you have your name and address pasted to the inside of your windscreen.
Fuel stations are far apart from each other, so please ensure you fill up your vehicle as often as possible to prevent getting stranded without fuel. It is advised to use toilets that are available at fuel stations when you stop to fill up your vehicle, as the next toilet might be very far from your current stop. Remember to take toilet paper with you as some toilets might not have toilet paper available.
Be careful of unlicensed and unroadworthy vehicles on the roads especially when driving at night in Malawi. Some roads in Malawi are well maintained while others are not, so be careful when driving and watch out for potholes.
While on vacation in Malawi you can visit the beautiful Lake Malawi National Park, The Chongoni Rock Art Area, the grandeur of Mount Mulanje, the wonders of the Zomba Plateau, the beauty of the tea growing areas and various Game Reserves. Activities to do in Malawi include Hiking, Fishing, Mountain Climbing, Bird Watching, Diving, Snorkeling and much more.
Must see attractions in Malawi would include:
If it moved and inspired J.R.R Tolkien – it should move you as well. Mount Mulanje (3000 metres above sea level) is the highest in the region. On the southern side of the mountain lies the great rift valley with Inselbergs (free standing eroded mountains) which inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” when he visited Malawi in the 1930s.
Lake Malawi is the 9th largest lake in the world and third largest in Africa. The water is warm and in most places crystal clear. Diving and snorkeling is particularly rewarding as the Lake is home to a bewildering assortment of fish. Particularly the brightly coloured and interesting Cichlid family – the greatest concentration and variety in the world.
The Zomba Plateau
The Zomba Plateau is a massive mountain rising to 1800m, it has vast tracts of cedar, pine and cypress but elsewhere the vegetation is wild and mixed with abundant streams and waterfalls. There are tracks to the top from which are magnificent views that they were described in colonial times as “the best in the British Empire”.
If you would like any travel advice or real time alerts, please click on any of the following links below:
Current News within Malawi
Malawi News online.
Malawi online news.
Malawi Times online news.
Regional Malawi news provided by allAfrica.com
Driving In Malawi
Capital FM Malawi
Malawi radio station, provides news headlines
Visa free entry is available for entry for passport holders from:
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Hong Kong (30 days), Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Most everyone else can obtain a 30-day visa in advance at most entry posts for US$75, this visa can be extended for an extra 30 days. If you get your visa at an embassy they may give you 90 days.
The following passport holders need to arrange a visa in advance:
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Yemen.
For more information you can visit the following link : http://malawiembassy-dc.org/page/who-needs-a-visa-to-come-to-malawi
NB! If you are traveling with minor children to or from South Africa or even if your travels are just “in transit” through South Africa, then please read the following guidelines on the link below.
A collection of useful phrases in Chichewa, a Bantu language spoken in Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The language is known as Chewa (chicheŵa) in Malawi, and Nyanja (chinyanja) in Zambia and Mozambique. Translations have been kindly supplied by Simon Ager at Omniglot.
Some phrases provided by Yamikani Ken Jnr Chalira
If you would like to make any corrections or additions to this page, or if you can provide recordings, please contact us.
© Simon Ager Omniglot www.omniglot.com
Malawi has a sub-tropical climate, which is relatively dry and strongly seasonal. The warm-wet season stretches from November to April, during which 95% of the annual precipitation takes place. Annual average rainfall varies from 725mm to 2,500mm with Lilongwe having an average of 900mm, Blantyre 1,127mm, Mzuzu 1,289mm and Zomba 1,433mm. A cool, dry winter season is evident from May to August with temperatures varying between 17 and 27 degrees Celsius, and temperatures falling between 4 and 10 degrees Celsius. In addition, frost may occur in isolated areas in June and July. A hot, dry season lasts from September to October with average temperatures varying between 25 and 37 degrees Celsius. Humidity ranges from 50% to 87% for the drier months of September/October and wetter months of January/February respectively.
Get up to date weather reports from the Malawi Meteorological Services by clicking on this link http://www.metmalawi.com/
If you would like more information on Malawi, you can visit any of the following links below.