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About Malawi – What You Need To Know

When it comes to exploration and adventure, Malawi has a lot to offer; from mountaintops, grasslands and forests, to Africa’s third largest and most beautiful Lake!
Situated on the Great Rift Valley, Malawi is dominated by Lake Malawi which is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide (sometimes referred to as the calendar lake!). The lake has over 400 species of cichlid fish, a lot of which are endemic. Most of Lake Malawi’s astounding underwater diversity is protected within the Lake Malawi National Park which is a World Heritage site and is one of the first in the world set aside for the protection of freshwater fish.

scuba diving

The wildlife parks in Malawi are picturesque, diverse in game, with only a few lodges operating in each hence offering a very unique and exciting safari experience. Reserves such as Majete Wildlife Reserve, are virtually undiscovered by tourists thus visiting the area feels more like an expedition. Majete is also the only official Big 5 Park in Malawi.
As one of Africa’s smallest countries, Malawi is not wealthy, but has great riches in its people who are never short on smiles and hospitality.

International airlines

To fly into Malawi couldn’t be easier;

  • Ethiopian Airlines operates daily flights into both Lilongwe and Blantyre.
  • Kenya Airways operates daily flights into Lilongwe and into Blantyre certain days of the week.
  • South African Airways operates direct flights from Johannesburg to Blantyre on Monday, Wednesdays and Saturdays, then into Lilongwe every day except Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Visas

As a visitor you must be in possession of a valid passport when entering and leaving the country.

From 01 October 2015, the Government of Malawi had announced the introduction of new visa regulations applicable to visitors from any country which requires Malawian Citizens to acquire visas to visit their country of citizenship. These countries include but are not limited to the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Schengen member states, Australia, New Zealand.

Most Middle East countries are also required to pay visa fees.

Visa Fees are payable as follows;

  • Transit (valid for 7 days) – US$50
  • Single entry (valid for 3 months) – US$75
  • Multiple entry (valid for 6 months) – US$150
  • Multiple entry (valid for 12 months) – US$250

Money

Travellers’ cheques and cash (currencies that are widely & readily accepted include the US dollar, the Euro, the Pound Sterling and the South African Rand ) are accepted. The local currency (Malawi Kwacha) can be obtained at the airports either from the ATMs (Visa only) or Banks/Bureaux de Change. Visa credit cards are becoming more widely accepted but not in remote areas and should not be relied on except in major towns.

sunset

Insurance

Make sure that you have comprehensive medical insurance before you arrive in Malawi.

It is recommended that visitors to Malawi take malaria prophylactics. Tetanus, polio, typhoid and the hepatitis vaccinations are recommended. Yellow fever immunisation is required only by visitors entering Malawi from a yellow fever zone.

It is also advisable to know your blood group type in case of an emergency. Please check with your local practitioner/doctor for up to date health advice before you travel.

Photography

Before photographing any local people please do ask your guide and the villagers first. Be very careful when photographing public buildings and persons in uniform.  It’s better to be safe and simply ask for permission to avoid any conflicts.

 

Seasons and Climate

  • January – March is the peak rainy season.
  • The dry season is April and May with occasional storms, but the skies are clear and it’s warm.
  • June – August are the winter months, with occasional high winds.  The days are warm and it’s cool at night.
  • Temperatures rise in September with hazy days.
  • October and November are hot and often humid.
  • In December the temperatures are high but are cooled down by early rains.  The start of the rains can also bring a deluge of flying ants and other insects normally lasting a few hours. With the insects come the cooler temperatures but also the humidity.

 

beach

What to Bring

To make your trip a success, please bring the following;

  • A hat/cap, high-factor sun screen, strong insect repellent, anti-histamine cream and tablets.
  • Soft bags are recommended, not hard cases.
  • Don’t forget a torch and binoculars for everyone, trust us – you won’t want to share!
  • Daily laundry facilities are available in the camps and lodges so you don’t need to pack too much.
  • Recommended for you to pack are three sets of bush/Khaki-coloured safari outfits; two sets of casual evening clothes; a medium-weight sweater plus a warm jacket if you visit in Winter (June – early August).
  • A good pair of walking shoes.  Thick-soled trainers are good for lodge walks, however please bring light boots for walking safaris.
  • Dust may be a challenge if you wear spectacles, so do pack an extra pair just in case.
  • Bring a swimming costume, for cooling down in the swimming pools.
  • Finally, it’s great to give back to the local community by taking the time to pack a few gifts for the children at local schools.  Anything from note books, school bags, skipping ropes and solar calculators will be very welcome.

All that’s left is to enjoy your holiday in Malawi – ‘The warm heart of Africa’. 😊

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