Named as one of the top 10 places to travel to by Lonely Planet, Malawi is not a popular travel destination.
Known as the “Warm Heart of Africa” and “The Land of the Smiles” (due to the friendly nature of the locals), this African country is home to Lake Malawi, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Majete Wildlife Reserve is a reserve where the Big Five (rhino, elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo) can be found.
This Malawi travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
- Malawi power voltage is 230V 50Hz; Plug G
- The Malawi currency is the Malawian kwacha and is around 540 MWK to 1 USD
- Visas to enter Malawi are not required by citizens of the USA, all Commonwealth countries and most European countries (except Switzerland). For those nationalities that do require visas, these cannot be obtained on arrival but must be obtained in advance from any Malawi embassy or consulate.
- Be wary of anyone asking for a ride, claiming to be a tour guide or offering you food or drink. There have been reports of people being robbed after their food/drink were drugged.
- Beware of Chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. This outbreak continues to affect parts, Africa. Symptoms can take up to 12 days to appear, but usually begin within 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito,.
- Symptoms generally include fever and joint pain; other symptoms can include fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and rash.
- The water is not potable; drink only bottled water.
- SIM Cards:
- If you are traveling for a short time, we use KnowRoaming International SIM for all our travels.
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Budget: You can find budget accommodation for 7,320-25,600 MWK per night. Stay in furnished bedrooms, eat at the hotel restaurant, and be close by to shops and city centers.
Mid-Range: For mid-range, expect to pay around 52,000-80,500 MWK per night. These hotels come with private rooms, a hotel restaurant and bar, a fitness center, laundry service, and an outdoor pool.
High-End: Five-star hotels will cost 82,000-352,000 MK and beyond. Take in the best with private suites with whirlpool tubs and living rooms, spa services, a beauty salon, multiple hotel restaurants and bars, a gym, massages, room service, and airport shuttles.
Fish, corn, potatoes, cattle, goats, and sorghum, as well as fruits like bananas and mangoes, are common staples in Malawi’s cuisine. Nsima (maize porridge) is one of the most popular dishes and is typically served with
If you are in the mood for a treat, look for mandazi, Malawi’s version of a donut (less sweet than US donuts) or, for those more adventurous, head to Lilongwe to try
Getting to Malawi
Flights: Kamuzu International Airport, located 21.7 miles from Lilongwe, is the main airport. Chileka International Airport, about 10 miles from the city center of Blantyre, is another popular airport. You can check for the best flights to Malawi on Skyscanner.
Getting Around Malawi
Buses: Buses are a cheap way to get around. You can find both minibuses, as well as coaches for long-distance travels between cities. Minibuses leave when full and run throughout the day, while long-distance buses will require booking a ticket in advance.
Taxis: Taxis are a good way to get around major cities. Your local hotel can help arrange a taxi ride. A taxi ride from the Kamuzu airport to downtown Lilongwe, for example, will cost roughly 14,650.
Car Rental: Renting a car is a good way to get to areas not serviced by buses. To rent a car, you will need to be at least 23-25 years old and have a U.S. driver’s license. Prices start at 6,100 MWK per day.
Uber: No Uber, but Malawi does have Ecoride, a taxi app that operates similarly to Uber.
Malawi’s climate is generally tropical. A rainy season runs from November to April.
There is little to no rainfall throughout much of the country from May to October.
- Waterproof bag – the bag has two functions, protecting your stuff from the rain and also from the dust, especially if you’re travelling to drier regions.
- Footwear – especially important if going you are heading on a safari! Pack a pair of lightweight, durable, waterproof and comfortable shoes and also a pair of flip-flops or sandals that you can change into after a long day of sight-seeing.
- The protection basics – Travelers should stock up on the essentials: sunblock, mosquito/insect repellant containing DEET or a pyrethroid insecticide, sunglasses and a hat.
- Warm clothes – it does cool off at night, especially in Nairobi and the Highlands around July and August. Make sure to pack a light-weight sweater, cardigan or a pashmina scarf to keep you warm on those chilly nights.
- Cover up – in Muslim areas, including the coast, shorts, and t-shirts can be frowned upon. Try and dress modestly; wear trousers or knee-length skirts with tops that cover your shoulders.
When to Go
The best time to visit is during the dry season of May to October. As this is the winter season in Malawi, there is less of a chance of rainfall and the weather is pleasant, which makes for great wildlife viewing. Your chance of getting Malaria also decreases the most in the winter.
Things to Do
- Manchewe Waterfalls: Spend a day seeing the highest waterfall in Malawi. Take a short hike to see this impressive sight, which stands at 120 meters. The admission fee is 500 NWK.
- Majete Wildlife Reserve: Head here to see the Big 5 (leopards, elephants, buffalos, black rhinos, and lions), as well as giraffes, zebras, hartebeests, and more. With over 2,500 animals, there is plenty to see here. Safaris are available by boat, vehicle, or foot.
- Cultural & Museum Centre Karonga: Learn more about Malawi by visiting this museum. A guided tour will take you throughexhibits, murals, and displays that show the history of the country, from the dinosaur era to Malawi’s fight for independence.
- St. Peter’s Cathedral: Constructed in 1905 by missionaries, this historical church is still operating. Step inside to see the great architecture, take a guided tour to learn more about the church’s history, or attend a service.
What not to Miss
- Lake Malawi National Park: Come to the world’s first freshwater national park. You can snorkel, scuba dive, or kayak on the lake, take a walk through nature, or feed the freshwater fish.
- Liwonde National Park: Head to southern Malawi to see black rhinos, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, as well as rare birds. After seeing the wildlife, explore a local village
Places to Stay
Sogecoa Golden Peacock Hotel: Just a few miles from the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, stay at this four-star hotel. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, private rooms with flat-screen TVs and minibars, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a beauty salon, massage services, and two hotel restaurants—international cuisine and Chinese cuisine.
Protea Hotel by Marriott Blantyre Ryalls: Just a short distance from St. Michael and All Angels Church and the Chichiri Museum, come stay at this hotel. Amenities include contemporary rooms with minibars, a panoramic hotel restaurant, a cocktail bar, a gym, spa services, and a pool.
Sunbird Ku Chawe: Stay in the Zomba Plateau at this mountain resort in Zomba. Featuring a gym, a hotel restaurant and bar, room service, and airport transportation, the hotel also comes with beautiful mountain views, making it a great place to relax.
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We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
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Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation.
Air BnB: Airbnb is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs. I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
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World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to Thailand you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.