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Malawi - Climate

Malawi’s tropical climate is moderated across much of the country by altitude. Two seasons can be recognized; the dry season lasts from April through to November while the wet season lasts some four months, December to March. Squeezed in between these two seasons is a hot and rather humid period which generally characterizes November and early December. Over the last decade or so, the wet season has often been delayed. Rains which used to start in early December now, quite regularly, don’t occur until the New Year. 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 traveler.

Much of the country is at an altitude which keeps potentially high temperatures down to very acceptable levels. Only in the Lower Shire Valley can temperatures become unpleasantly high, and then only in the summer months. Although the period May to October is often described as the ideal time to travel in Malawi, the rainy season is attractive for the displays of orchids on Nyika Plateau, for bird watching in some of the Reserves and for seeing Malawi’s vegetation at its most lush. The main drawback of a visit in the wet season is in driving the dirt roads including those within the game parks. It also has to be borne in mind that, as everywhere, game viewing is best towards the end of the dry season.

Temperatures vary from below freezing (at night on the high plateaux in winter – July) to 38°C/100°F (in the Lower Shire Valley in summer – December). To generalise is difficult but through much of the year, and in regions visited by travellers, temperatures during the day are usually in the mid-20sC/mid-70sF. In the short hot season, November-December, maximum temperatures may rise to the lower 30sC/upper 80sF. Lake Malawi’s surface temperatures vary from about 24°C/75°F to 28°C/82°F. Rainfall varies greatly. Some years in the early 1990s were exceptionally dry. Really high figures are rare. Parts of the Lakeshore can receive 50 to 60 inches (1270 to 1525 mm) a year but Lilongwe’s and Blantyre’s figures are less than half that. Much of the rain falls in short but heavy bursts


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