Travel Advice for Malawi:

Name: Republic of Malawi

Capital: Lilongwe

Population: Over 13 million

Area: 118 480 sq km

Time: 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time all year round


Climate and Seasonality:

January to March - Hot and wet.

April to May - Warm days and cool evenings, clear skies after the rains and should be calm on the lake. Possibility of light rains.

June to July - Warm days. Cool to cold evenings. By July the lake can become windy.

August - Warm to hot days. Cool nights and winds on the lake.

September to October - Hot to very hot days. Lake calming down with warm evenings.

November to December - Either hot and wet or hot and dry.


Temperatures vary from below freezing (at night on the high plateau in winter - July) to 38°C (in the Lower Shire Valley in summer - December). To generalize is difficult but through much of the year temperatures during the day are usually in the mid-20s. In the short hot season, November-December, maximum temperatures may rise to the lower 30s. Lake Malawi's surface temperatures vary from about 24°C to 28°C.


There are a couple of anomalies that can occur i.e. the rains should stop in April and return in November but the north occasionally experiences summer rains and Zomba and Nyika can experience mist and drizzle throughout the year. Winds can brew up on the lake at any time. Zomba and Nyika National Park are at a higher altitude and are always chilly in the evenings, no matter what time of year. Lake Malawi and Mvuu are all at an altitude of about 400 meters above sea level and will be much warmer.


What to pack:

Sunblock, sun hat and good quality sunglasses

Camera with waterproof/dustproof bag/cover

Good walking shoes (tennis shoes are fine)

Malaria tablets (if applicable)

Warm Anorak or Parka and scarf / gloves for winter


Download Packing list in PDF


Health and Safety:

Malawi is a friendly country; however, it is sensible to take basic precautions whilst travelling anywhere in the world. We advise that you ask your Barefoot guide, Tourist Information Officers, camp/lodge and hotel staff and local residents about areas to avoid.


Safaris camps and lodges in Malawi are situated in malaria-risk areas; please consult your medical practitioner regarding any anti-malarial. Please check with your health department/travel clinic prior to departure, in the event there have been changes in the health regulations of the country you are visiting.


Passports and Visas:

Visitors to Africa must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended departure date, together with onward travel documents, proof of accommodation and sufficient funds for the duration of your stay. Please also ensure that you have sufficient blank visa pages (not endorsement pages) in your passport, with at least 2 consecutive/side by side blank pages. Our recommendation is 3 pages (or even 4 if you are travelling through more than one country on your journey).


Please speak to your Africa specialist to ensure that you have any appropriate travel documentation before departing on safari.


Banks and Foreign Exchange:

Malawi banks, as well as most camps and lodges/hotels, accept US Dollars, GBP Sterling, Euro and South African Rand in cash. MasterCard and Visa are usually accepted throughout Malawi, but Diners Club and American Express are not. The currency is the Malawi Kwacha (MK).



Chichewa is the official language; however English is widely spoken.


Recommended Reading:

We recommend the following books specific to the Malawian region.

A guide to the Fishes of Lake Malawi - Lewis, Reinthal and Tendall

Malawi - Lake of the Stars - Frank Johnson

Venture into the Interior - Laurens van der Post

Livingstone - T. Jeal

Livingstone's Lake - O. Ransford

Birds of Africa south of the Sahara - Ian Sinclair, Peter Ryan

Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals - Jonathan Kingdon

The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals - Jonathan Kingdon

Malawi The Bradt Travel Guide - Philip Briggs

Behaviour Guide to African Mammals - Richard Estes

Field Guide to the larger mammals of Africa - Chris & Tilde Stuart

Suggested Trip Dossiers

Malawi & Zambia: Explorers Africa

15 Days Land Only (3127) (EA)

EA Map


Malawi Lodge Safari (LS)

4 Days Land Only (3015) (LS)


Malawi & Zambia: Geographical Tour (MAZ)

13/17 Days Land Only (3040)

Website designed and maintained by Nathan Dixey

Last updated 15th January 2017

All Photographs © Nathan Dixey & Ken Smith 2017

Barefoot Safaris is a Member of the Malawi Tourism Association

African Proverbs

“The man who wanted to gather too much honey was stung by the bees”

“He is so poor that he lacks everything; even sleep”

He who wants rain must put up with wind”

“The Axe forgets but not the tree”

“Two cocks in a hen-house never crow”







Malawi & Zambia Camping Safari

15 Days Land Only (4010) (CM)

See Our Trips for prices

Malawi & Zambia Lodge Safari

15 Days Land Only (4008) (LM)

See Our Trips for prices

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