Malawi Info

Some things to know before visiting Malawi

Here's information on the basic requirements for entering Malawi, as well as links to more information.

(Click on a heading to view the information)

Passports & Visas

A full valid passport is required for entry into Malawi. For tourist visits, visas are NOT required by citizens of most Commonwealth countries, the USA, Japan, most European Union countries and certain other countries. Please check the complete list below, and refer to your nearest Malawi diplomatic mission, from which visas for any nationality can be obtained.

For those nationalities that do require visas, these cannot be obtained on arrival but must be obtained in advance from any Malawi diplomatic mission around the world.
Visas are NOT required by nationals of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Botswana
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Cyprus
  • Darussalam
  • Denmark
  • Dominica
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gambia
  • Germany
  • Grenada
  • Guyana Nauru
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Islands
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Lesotho
  • Luxembourg
  • Madagascar
  • Malaysia
  • Maldive
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • New Guinea
  • New Zealand
  • Papua
  • Portugal
  • Samoa (Western)
  • San Marino
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent & the Grenadines
  • Swaziland
  • Sweden
  • Tanzania
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Vanuatu
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Climate

For most people the dry (winter) season is most attractive (i.e. April/May to October/November). The chance of rain is slim, daytime temperatures are generally pleasant (in the 20s Celsius) and the low vegetation and limited availability of water mean that game viewing is at its best. However, some of the best bird watching can be had from November to April and the orchids of Nyika are best seen from December to March/April.

Malawi's temperatures are moderated by altitude. In the hottest month (usually November) maximum temperatures will be around 30°C. In the coldest month (probably July) maximum temperatures will be in the low 20’s. On the uplands (e.g. Zomba, Nyika and Viphya) it can be quite cold at night. The hottest area, all year, is that at the lowest altitude - the Lower Shire Valley.

Rainfall is extremely rare in the dry season and even in the so-called wet season, the rains are usually short-lived storms, as is typical of the tropics, and at no time does the climate seriously inhibit the traveller. Around the country, rainfall varies, with the highlands causing the highest figures.

Health & Safety

Immunization against polio, tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A is recommended. Yellow fever immunization may be required only by visitors entering from a yellow fever zone. There is a risk of malaria and prophylactics should be taken. Seek up to date advice from your doctor. There is a risk of contracting bilharzia if bathing in some parts of Lake Malawi but the risk is negligible near the main beach hotels. The infection is relatively easily treated once diagnosed. Malawi is a high risk area for AIDS.

Malawi is considered a safe country for tourists and Malawians are rightfully known for their friendliness. However, the usual precautions should be taken as would be advised for tourists anywhere.

Food & Drink

Excellent fish dishes are widely available but especially near Lake Malawi. Most hotels and safari camps serve "western" dishes with, perhaps, game and occasionally local foods such as maize meal porridge. Soft drinks are available everywhere. Beers (Carlsberg is the most common), spirits such as Malawi gin and South African wines are reasonably priced and commonly available. For drinking, bottled water should be used in preference to tap water.

Dress

Dress is generally informal. Swimwear and very skimpy clothing should be confined to the beach resorts. For safaris, "natural " colors should be worn in preference to light/bright colors. In the uplands, especially in the winter (April-September), it can be cold in the evening and sweaters may be needed. It can be very cold on morning or night safari drives.

Currency

Malawi’s unit of currency is the kwacha (abbreviated to MK internationally; K locally). The kwacha divides into 100 tambala. Practically speaking, only the kwacha is used. Banks in the towns are open weekdays from 0800 to 1300.Travellers Cheque or foreign (hard) currency notes are widely accepted.

If using dollars to pay for your tours and accommodation, please be aware that $1 bills will not be accepted or exchanged; the minimum domination able to be changed is $5. Avoid black market currency traders. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency imported but it must be declared and accounted for on departure. Only MK3000 of local currency may be exported.

There are 24-hour ATMs in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu. Only local currency is dispensed and that is limited to approximately the equivalent (depending on exchange rates) of GB£85, Euro110; US$140 in any period of twenty-four hours.

You can find some more tips and info here

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