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Malawi

Visitor Information

Climate | Latest Travel Advice | Visas & Immigration | Money | Getting Around | Public Holidays | Electrical Power | Travel Insurance

CLIMATE

The variable altitude of Malawi provides wide differences in climate. The lowest point is where the Shire Valley approaches its confluence with the Zambezi River, at about 100 ft above sea level. The vast water surface of Lake Malawi also profoundly affects the climate. The margins of the lake have long hot seasons and high humidity, with mean annual temperatures of 24°C (75°F). The temperature generally decreases and the rainfall increases with altitude. Malawi is noted for its rapid transitions from low to high rainfall. Trade winds and cool maritime air bring clouds and drizzly rain to the mountains in the east which rise to over 1,830 m (6,000 ft). The tea belt profits from both winter and summer rains, and the high plateau area offers opportunities for afforestation because of heavy rainfall. Winters are cool, with occasional spells of cold weather.

In general, the seasons may be divided into the cool (May to mid-August); the hot (mid August to November); the rainy (November to April), with rains continuing longer in the northern and eastern mountains, and the post-rainy (April-May), with temperatures falling in May. Zomba has extreme temperatures of 35°C and 7°C (95°F and 45°F) and considerable rainfall. Lilongwe, in central Malawi, at an elevation of 1,036 (3,400 ft) has a moderately warm climate with adequate rainfall and extreme temperatures of 36°C and -3.4°C (97°F and 26°F)

The ultra-violet rays are very strong in Malawi and burn times very short - great care should be taken

Climate Chart for Lilongwe
Climate Chart for Lilongwe

For today's weather forecast see    CNN - Africa Weather Forecasts


LATEST TRAVEL ADVICE

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (London)

US State Department - Travel Warnings


VISAS & IMMIGRATION

A valid passport, with at least six months to expiry date from intended exit date, is required to enter Malawi. If your passport is likely to expire you should get a new one before arriving. Visas are not obtainable at points of entry must be organised prior to travelling through the nearest Malawian Embassy or High Commission. Visa are required by all but the following passport holders: Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Iceland, Israel, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, UK, USA, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Malawi has diplomatic representation in Belgium (Brussels), Canada (Ontario) France (Paris) Germany (Bonn), Japan (Tokyo), Kenya (Nairobi), Mozambique (Maputo), Namibia (Windhoek) South Africa (Pretoria), UK (London), USA (Washington), Zambia (Lusaka) and Zimbabwe (Harare). Visitors passes are required by all foreign passport holders and these can be obtained, free of charge, at the point of entry. Visitor's passes are valid for 1 month and can easily be extended, up to a maximum of 90 days, at any of the immigration offices which can be found in most major towns.

It is best to ensure that you have an outward bound ticket or can show sufficient funds to support your stay in the country

Listing of Malawian Tourist offices and/or embassies location around the world

Diplomatic Missions / Embassies based in Malawi


MONEY

Currency:    1 Malawian Kwacha=100 tambala
Current Exchange Rate:    Today's Exchange Rate

Credit and charge cards are accepted, in hotels and banks. Travellers cheques are widely accepted and exchanged.

It's best to take some hard currency in either Pounds Sterling or US Dollar, South African Rand is also widely exchanged

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GETTING AROUND

Air: Flights to Malawi from Europe:

Click for flights from Europe with KLM


Kenya Airways

Internal Flights
Internal air connections can be made from Lilongwe to Blantyre, Koronga, Mzuzu and Club Makokola on the southern Lakeshore
Lake Ferry: Two ferries, the MV Ilala and MV Mtendere, travel between Monkey Bay and Chilumba once a week. The ferries are inexpensive but are not up to tourist standards. The Ilala is the better of the two
Railways / Train Services: Services by rail are slow, overcrowded and erratic, they offer no advantages over road travel and are therefore not used by tourists. The rail connects Lilongwe to Blantyre via Salima and Blantyre to Nsanje near the border where it extends into Mozambique to Biera. It is possible that this route may now be developed in the near future.

More Info - click here Central East African Railways Company Ltd.
 
Bus: Bus services are available throughout Malawi. There is a luxury bus service three times daily between Blantyre and Lilongwe and three times weekly between Blantyre and Mzuzu by the main bus operator in Malawi, Stagecoach. But they cover practically every road in Malawi and are rarely overcrowded. Travelling by bus is the most cost effective and reliable way to get around.
On many roads in Malawi, especially where there is no public transport, bus services are supplemented by the motola system. Generally they are no cheaper than buses but you will reach your destination quicker. These are not regarded as a safe form of transport with main of the vehicles being in poor order and often driven by drunks.

Authors Photo:   Not an advisable way to travel (54.8KB)
Hitching: The lakeshore road and the M1 between Blantyre and Lilongwe are the best roads for hitching, many of the lifts you will be offered will expect payment and sometimes you may have no other option.
Road:
Malawi Sheet Map  
The Africa Guide's recommended Map
Malawi & Mozambique Travel Map   (Maps Worldwide)

Published by ITMB Publishing Ltd Series Africa
specialises in areas that are interesting, exotic and off the beaten track. For the English speaking traveller - informative text included with the map, dealing with the history, culture, etc. The maps are light, practical and should be invaluable for the backpacker, traveller or tourist
Other Maps & Atlases for Sale
You will need a valid international driving licence or national driving licence if set out in English. Malawi drives on the left. The main roads is Malawi are generally surfaced and most are reasonably well maintained. Many smaller roads and roads within the game reserves can become impassable in the rainy season. Be aware, for some reason, Malawian drivers seem to believe that by not using their headlights will conserve the life of their car battery, so driving after dark can be dangerous.
Hiring a car is an expensive way to get around but essential if you want to see a lot in a limited time.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

January 1st New Years Day
January 16th John Chilembwe Day
March 3rd Martyrs Day
March/April Good Friday & Easter Monday
May 1st Labour Day
14 June Freedom Day
July 6th Republic Day
2nd Monday in October Mothers Day
2nd Monday in December National Tree Planting Day
December 25th Christmas Day
December 26th Boxing Day

ELECTRICAL POWER

Electric Power is 230V running at 50Hz. The Plug type used is:
Rectangular blade plug - view
 

TRAVEL INSURANCE

If you need medical care whilst in Malawi, it is best to be aware that medical providers may not accept payment through your insurance company. In these circumstances you will have to pay in full after your treatment and file a claim with your insurance company for reimbursement. Therefore you should have access to cash, either from a credit card or by wire transfer. If you need assistance contact the country's local embassy or representative.

To be compensated you must be treated by licensed medical personnel and provide your insurance company with proper documentation and receipts.

It is advisable to always ensure you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy which covers you for repatriation to your home country.

You can check out the following websites which specialise in long term travellers, adventure travellers, backpackers and workers based abroad.

Insure and Go - UK Travellers
whether it's for a one off holiday or if you travel many times over the year, if you're off backpacking before university or you're retired and looking to explore the world; if you're after winter sports cover or if it's for a business trip, a wedding abroad or a golfing weekend away, we have a policy at the right price to ensure you have the peace of mind that you are covered for the unexpected while you're away.
 
InsureMyTrip - USA travellers
A trusted resource that serves millions of customers worldwide, our licensed customer services representatives help travelers find the right insurance plan, offering one of the industry's largest customer ratings and reviews forum and a unique customer advocacy program that provides one-on-one assistance to travelers before, during, and after their trip.
 


Downunder Insurance - UK - Australia and New Zealand Travellers
offers travel insurance to travellers and residents in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Our cover ranges from basic to highly comprehensive, with affordable policies aimed at backpackers and gap-year students, but with cover available to travellers and holiday makers up to 55 years of age.

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