African Travel Tips when visiting Malawi

Malawi is the ‘warm heart of Africa’, Malawi is a stable, safe African country known for its people with their welcoming smiles and friendly nature. The centre-piece of its tourism, though, is the enchanting Lake Malawi, Livingstone’s ‘Lake of Stars’. Boasting a rich diversity of wildlife, fish and bird life as well as flora, the country is ideal for nature lovers with its Lake Malawi Marine Park having been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Varied treasures including many unique species await bird watchers, anglers, outdoor and water sport enthusiasts and game viewers. Other ways to enjoy the country include sampling the local ‘chambo’ fish or a Malawi Gin and Tonic and buying souvenirs made by highly skilled craftsmen, such as chief’s chairs, floor mats, wooden masks, traditional cane items, baskets, carvings and raffia beach hats.




Tropical with wet and dry seasons. Dry season (Apr-Nov) is also a good time to visit. Warm months are mid-Aug to Nov, with October the hottest. Rains (Nov-Apr) are intermittent. In winter (dry season) there are high winds and some dust storms.


1 Malawi Kwacha = 100 Tambala. USD or Pounds Sterling traveller’s cheques are recommended. Credit cards are not commonly accepted, except in big hotels. Foreign exchange shortages can be a problem. The import of foreign currency is unlimited if declared. The export of foreign currency is allowed up to the amount declared upon arrival.


230 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 3-pin square.


A yellow fever inoculation is an official requirement for travellers coming from an infected country or area. Visitors are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against malaria (risk exists throughout the year in the whole country), Hepatitis A, polio and typhoid. Other health concerns are meningitis (depending on time of year and area visited); insect-borne diseases; cholera (officially considered infected); bilharzia (some stretches of Lake Malawi: it is recommended that you don’t swim in stillwater pools or ponds in rivers below the plateaux or on the shores of Lake Malawi away from the sandy beaches of lake-side tourist resorts, Lake Malawi should not be used as a source of drinking water unless water has been boiled or filtered first); pollen (people with allergies or asthma may suffer discomfort from pollen etc.); poor medical facilities; unavailability of medicines; and HIV/AIDS.


Chichewa is the national language and widely spoken. English is the official language.


New Year’s Day (1 Jan); John Chilibwe Day (15 Jan); Martyr’s Day (3 Mar); Good Friday (9Apr); Easter Monday (12 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Freedom Day (14 Jun); Independance Day (16 Jul); Mother’s Day (9 Oct); Christmas Day (25 Dec); Boxing Day (26 Dec)


Wood and soapstone carvings; wood and cane furniture; pottery; beadwork; colourful fabrics; raffia items; instruments.


Over 99 percent of the population is African, with the largest group being Chewa. The main religious beliefs are traditional. Suits or jacket and tie are suitable for business meetings. Although the dress code is now more relaxed than used to be the case, visitors should take care not to offend local sensitivities.


GMT +2


Tipping is permitted.


Lake Malawi:

One of the world’s biological wonders and Africa’s third-largest lake, Lake Malawi forms an inland sea with a rich marine life surrounded by palm-fringed beaches and lively villages; sailing, waterskiing, scuba diving and game fishing for Tiger Fish and Lake Salmon can be done here; Lake Malawi Marine Park in the south has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and protects a unique diversity of tropical fish (more than 400 species have been identified, most of which are unique to these waters), a renowned colony of otters and a rich birdlife.

Kasungu National Park:

Miombo woodland interspersed with sandy plains and wide rivers; ideal for game viewing and bird watching especially at Lifupa Dam; of particular interest is Kasungu’s famous elephants; Stone and Iron Age sites and rock paintings can be found.

Zomba Plateau:

Stands 900m above the city of Zomba covered in evergreen forest and verdant grassland; home to Blue Monkeys, rare montane forest birds and epiphytic orchids; ideal for fishing in the Mulunguzi Dam and hiking; the viewing points of Queen’s View and Emperor’s View allows visitors to take in the invigorating air; of interest in Zomba city are the traditional African market and botanical gardens.

Nyika National Park:

The Northern Highlands form the greatest wilderness area in Malawi; the Nyika Plateau holds Africa’s highest concentration of roan antelope, great herds of eland and other mountain game, which can be viewed from horseback; other activities include mountain biking, birding, trout fishing and hiking; alpine flowers, orchids and proteas cover the high meadows; nearby visit the Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve.

Liwonde National Park:

Malawi’s premier game area and habitat of the Big Five, this riverine park on the bank of the Shire River features many hippo, elephant, crocodile, lion, leopard and birds; a must-do is the leisurely boat safari upriver into Lake Malombe; the Park contains the only population of Lilian’s lovebird in Malawi.

Lengwe National Park:

Home to the attractive Nyala Antelope, buffalo, Livingstone’s Suni and birds like the Gorgeous Bush-strike, African Broadbill and Crested Guineafowl.


Also known as the ‘Garden City’ for its colourful flowering trees and wooded slopes of indigenous trees; visit the Kitu Botanical Gardens; Chinese Pagoda and Water Gardens; Capital Hill; National Library; Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary; New Market; Old Market; Old Town; and Asian Quarter.


Founded in 1876, this is the commercial capital of Malawi; surrounded by hills and mountains; visit the nearby Michiru Mountain Park; Thyolo tea district; Shire river and game parks; Majete and Mwabyi Game Reserves and curio shops.

Mount Mulanje:

An isolated massif containing 20 granite peaks, the highest of which soars to 3000m offers serious climbers several challenging routes; spectacular waterfalls, forests and tea plantations decorate the area; of botanical interest is the Mulanje cedar, believed to be unique to this area.

Viphya Plateau:

A must-do for bird watchers; the Luwawa Dam has established itself as an adventure centre, with canoeing, abseiling, rock climbing and more available.

Satria Permadi

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