The Republic of Malawi
is a democratic, densely populated country located in southeastern Africa.
It has Zambia to the north-west, Tanzania to the north, and Mozambique
surrounding it on the east, south, and west. The origin of the name Malawi
remains unclear; it is held to be either derived from that of southern
tribes, or noting the "glitter of the sun rising across the lake" (as seen
in its flag).
Malawi Travel by Darren Ravens
Often billed as 'the warm
heart of Africa', Malawi offers something for all visitors. One of the
most beautiful and laid-back countries in Africa, Malawi is renowned for
being a destination for those seeking adventure, leisure or eco-tourism
attractions. Malawi's scenery is gorgeous and varied and Malawians tend
to be extremely friendly toward travellers. Nature lovers will adore the
national parks and game reserves, mountain hiking and plateau trekking.
Top tips for Malawi Travel
Travel in Malawi
Malawi's road network is
reasonably well established, with most major routes tarred. Bus transport
is a viable option, with express and luxury coach options available and
boat trips are a fond favourite. For those seeking a more comprehensive
African adventure, there are a number of overland
tour operators running trips that span various countries, allowing
travellers an opportunity to really experience the spirit of Africa and
enjoy a variety of experiences.
With a large and diverse
range of tribal backgrounds among the people of Malawi, it's understandable
that many travellers are concerned about matters of accepted behaviour
and convention. Fortunately for visitors to this African paradise, Malawian
society is well integrated and visitors need not worry too much about social
Conventions - Malawians are "hand-shake
people". They generally place some importance on the shaking of hands when
meeting and greeting. Among some parts of society men practice a special
handshake, involving the grasping of the thumb and placing the left hand
on the forearm - foreigners should probably not be trying to do this, but
if you're there and you see it, you'll know what it's about. Also, women
and children might curtsey as a greeting or as a sign of gratitude.
Generally, Malawians tend
to the side of the conventional in their dress. It's advisable to dress
modestly but of course in such a relaxed society there are no hard and
fast rules and it's probably better just to dress appropriately for your
intended activity; a day at the beach calls for beachwear and a safari
trip requires long sleeves and trousers.
Climate and weather Winter, the dry season,
is the best time to visit, and lasts from May to October. June and July
are the coldest months with a very comfortable average daytime temperatures
21ºC. The dry season also offers excellent game viewing and hiking
The warm, humid rainy season,
from November to April, brings hotter temperatures of around the mid-30
ºC range. Rainfall is concentrated on the higher plateaus and some
roads become impassable after very heavy rains.
Currency The Malawi Kwacha is the
locally used currency. It is freely convertible at a rate of around 137
Kwacha to the US dollar. US dollars are also readily accepted, particularly
for larger purchases.
It's also worth noting that
the neighbouring Zambia's currency, also called Kwacha, is worth a fraction
of the Malawi Kwacha, so travellers need to watch out.
Credit cards are accepted
to some extent, but then only the major brands like Visa and MasterCard
and then only by the larger hotels or businesses geared specifically towards
tourists. In general, it's safer to assume that your card will not be readily
Traveller's cheques too
are not always easily exchanged. Some of the banks, Forex Bureaus and in
top-end hotels may do so, but US currency in cash is probably a better
Health Precautions Malawi is a Malaria-risk
area. To minimise the risk of mosquito bites, wear light, long sleeved
clothing and use an effective insect repellent (those containing Diethyltoluamide
DEET work well) on exposed skin. Sleep under treated mosquito netting or
ensure that the doors and windows of your accommodation are screened against
mosquitoes. Having a fan or air-conditioner on at night will also curb
mosquito activity to some extent. Currently, the three most effective anti-malaria
medications are Mefloquine (Lariam or Mefliam), Doxycycline and Malarone
(Malanil). Certain medications may cause side-effects and need to be taken
some time before you are exposed to the risk, so consult you doctor or
travel health centre well before you intend to depart.
Must-see sights of Malawi
- This, the Malawian capital, is renowned for the Old Town, home to market
stalls, quaint cafés and restaurants and the New City, which houses
embass offices and shops.
- Blantyre, located in the southern part of Malawi, is considered the centre
of commerce and industry in the country. Of interest for beer lovers, it
is home to the Carlsberg brewery and has a range of restaurants andommodation
Malawi - probably the most famous of Malawi's tourist attractions,
Lake Malawi is also know as also known as Lake Nyasa and 'Livingstone's
Lake' (after famous explorer David Livingstone). It is the most southerly
lake in the Great African Rift Valley.
lake, about 560 km long and with a total area of nearly 30 000km²,
is bordered by Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania and is a source of territorial
dispute between Malawi and Tanzania. Lake Malawi is home to a greater variety
of indigenous species of fish than any other lake in the world, making
it very popular among scuba divers and snorkellers. Its peaceful blue waters
and stunning golden beaches make for great retreats for those seeking a
bit of rest and relaxation. Water sports like kayaking; canoeing, windsailing
and water skiing are available for those seeking a more active source of
Mount Soche, Blantyre Located in Blantyre, the
commercial capital of Malawi, Mount Soche Hotel is strategically positioned
in the city centre. The Hotel is set among lush tropical gardens overlooking
the city in the north and the Historical Ndirande mountain in the south.
Taxi services are available at the hotel’s own taxi rank. Blantyre’s international
airport at Chileka is a comfortable 10km, 15 minutes, away. Hotel transport
- The hotel runs airport shuttle service at a nominal bus fee. The
nearest Parks and Reserves are Lengwe National Park, About 75 km's away,
home of the shy nyala, just an hour away down the Chikwawa escarpment south
of Blantyre near the sugar estates at Nchalo. A few kilometers away is
the newly revitalised Majete Wildlife Reserve.
Nkopola Lodge, Nkopola, Lake Malawi Located on the southern
lakeshore near the friendly fishing village of Nkopola. This resort has
spectacular views overlooking the lake and is 28 kilometers North of Mangochi
district headquarters. Four kilometers away from the hotel is the Makokola
airstrip. There are scheduled Air Malawi flights from Blantyre and Lilongwe.
2 conference rooms for all types of conferences, meetings, seminars, workshops
and product launchesThe equipment available includes: audio visual equipment,
OHP, LCD and screen, podium. Sports & Recreation: Golf (nearby)
Tennis, Swimming Pool, Pool, Darts, Water Sports.
Livingstonia Beach, Salima, Lake Malawi Located in Senga Bay, Salima,
along the Lake Shore, 125 kilometers from the Capital City, Lilongwe.
Two hours drive from Lilongwe International Airport (145 kilometers). Airport
shuttle is also available on request at a nominal fee. One conference room
with a maximum capacity of 30 delegates.Equipment available includes video
screen and VCR, LCD projector, flip charts and overhead projector.
Services include: Laundry/Baby sitter (on request), Hotel Shop/Conference
facilities/Secretarial services, Free open car parking/Day excursions.
Capital, Lilongwe Only 25 minutes drive from
Kamuzu International Airport. Hotel Shuttle Bus and Taxis are available.
Malawi, the warm heart of Africa, this hotel is in the magnificent parkland
adjacent to the Government headquarters and only a half-kilometer from
the new city center, where most diplomatic missions are based. Rooms
are en-suite, air conditioned, have digital satellite television, international
direct dialing, WI-FI internet, e-mail facilities, internet ports and 220
volts power points. The Tidye Restaurant - A la carte menu, offering
a delightful contemporary African cuisine and International dishes.
Cocktail bar - Formal and just adjacent to the Tidye. Enjoy a delightful
service and expertly mixed cocktails. Le Mimosa restaurant - Offers
mouth watering buffet breakfast and lunch.
Lilongwe, Lilongwe Located in the Capital of
Malawi, the warm heart of Africa, this hotel is situated in the hub of
old town with easy access from all directions of the city. Only 35
minutes drive from Lilongwe International Airport. Taxis are available.
There is also easy access to public transport. The hotel boasts one
of the best and largest conference venues in the country with modern facilities,
with a seating capacity of 170 delegates. A 20-seater boardroom for
smaller groups, workshops and seminars is also available. All facilities
are offered with excellent audio–visual equipment. Rooms are en suite,
air conditioned, have satellite television, Mini bar, tea/coffee making
facilities international direct dialing, e-mail facilities and 240 power
volts. The Patio restaurant serves à la carte menu, offering
delightful range of local and international cuisine and also mouth watering
buffet breakfast and lunch.
Mzuzu, Mzuzu, Lake Malawi Located in Mzuzu, Northern
Region's administrative city. The gate way to and from Malawi's most beautiful
National Park - Nyika. And Located about 370kms from Lilongwe. The
hotel is only 3.5 Kilometers from the Airport, 100 Kilometers from Chintheche’s
beautiful beaches, 200 kilometers from Malawi’s largest National Park,
on the high rolling hills of Nyika Plateau 120 Kilometers from Livingstonia
Mission, and 500 metes from the main road. Entertainment include
pool table, television and discos every Friday and Saturday. Guests looking
for nightlife will find it in the popular New Choma Bar.
Ku Chawe, Zomba Plateau, Zomba The hotel sits on the edge
of Zomba Plateau, which rises to nearly 2200m, 7000 ft, with the highest
peaks on the rim forming a saucer shaped bowl. Around this rim are some
of the most stunning views in Africa. The hotel is one and a half
hour’s drive from Chileka, Blantyre, the nearest international airport.
Taxis are available.Hotel transport may be provided by prior arrangement
at a nominal fee. The Mulunguzi Restaurant offers both local and
international cuisine on a comprehensive à la carte menu. The berries,
particularly strawberries, which grow so well on the plateau are nearly
always on offer. Bastions Bar complements the restaurant with a well
selected wine list.