Africa Tours and Safaris
Malawi Travel Information

Passports/visas

A passport (valid for 3 months beyond intended stay) and a visa are required for some nationalities. An International Certificate of Vaccination for yellow fever is required if you are arriving from an infected area within 5 days.

What to Pack

Generally, casual comfortable clothing is suitable throughout the year. The most practical items to pack for your Malawi holiday are:
* Towel, torch and sleeping bag for camping safaris
* Blouses with long sleeves
* Light, compact raincoat is a good idea for the summer.
* T-shirts, shorts/a light skirt
* Comfortable walking shoes.
* Sweater and a warm jacket for game drives (necessary, even in summer)
* Swimsuit, snorkeling and diving gear.
* Jeans or trousers.
* Binoculars and a camera are a must.
* Warm sleepwear.
* Sun block, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent.

Best Time to Travel

For most people the dry (winter) season is most attractive (i.e. April/May to October/November). 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.

Health & Safety

Malawi is considered a safe country and Malawians are rightfully known for their friendliness. However, the usual precautions should be taken as would be advised for any tourist anywhere. Immunization against polio, tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis is recommended. Yellow fever immunization is required only by visitors entering Malawi 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 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

Getting To Malawi

Most international visitors arrive by air, landing at Lilongwe or Blantyre. Lilongwe International Airport lies some 26 km (16 miles) north of the capital and Chileka Airport is just 13 km (8 miles) outside Blantyre.
For intercontinental flights from Europe, South African Airways operates connecting services through Johannesburg most days of the week. Kenya Airways has a similar frequency connecting through Nairobi from London; also operating in conjunction with KLM from Amsterdam through Nairobi. British Airways has a weekly service connecting through Nairobi as well as operating with Air Malawi via the regional hubs of Johannesburg, Lusaka, Dar es Salaam and Harare. Air Zimbabwe, Ethiopian Airlines offer similar connecting services through Harare and Addis Ababa respectively.

Regional links between Malawi and Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe are provided by Air Malawi. Links from neighbouring countries are also provided by an air charter company based in Malawi - Nyassa Air Taxi.

There are trains from Blantyre to Cuamba and Nampula in northern Mozambique, although a 77-kilometer stretch of track between the Mozambique border and Cuamba is out of commission and must be covered by truck. A ferry runs twice a week from Likoma Island to Cobuè and Metangula in Mozambique. The main road (M1) runs from the northern border (Kaporo) through Karonga, Mzuzu, Lilongwe and finally to Mchinji and is in excellent shape. There is an excellent road from Lilongwe to Mchinji on the Zambian border (120 km).

To get into Malawi from Mozambique, in the south, one can take the bus from Tete (north-west Mozambique) to Zobwe. After crossing, take another bus from the border to Blantyre. This crossing is quite hectic, and it is closed at night, so one should plan on getting there early, and trying to keep it cool with all the border-hawkers. Direct buses run from Lusaka, Zambia to Lilongwe, but are best avoided (or done in stretches) if 18-20 hours on a bus doesn't sound like your idea of a good time. There is also minibus from Mbeya in Tanzania to the border. From the border in Malawi Side, take a taxi to Karonga. The cost is around 400-500 MK depend on negotiation. From Karonga bus station, take a bus or minibus to other destinations in Malawi. Bus is cheaper than minibus. The easiest way is to take a direct bus from Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania to Mzuzu or Lilongwe.

Public Holidays

Jan 1, 15; March 3; May 1; June 14; July 6; 2nd Monday in October; Dec 25, 26. Also: Good Friday and Easter Sunday. If a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the next Monday becomes a holiday. Muslim festivals may be celebrated especially in the Northern Region and along Lake Malawi. Please note that Malawi shares the same time as all southern Africa, viz. GMT + 2 hours.

Food & Drink

Please bear in mind that in certain areas it is not possible to obtain fresh fruit and vegetables. In summer (September - April), fresh produce will only keep for 2/3 days. Teas and coffees are readily available while in camp. Mineral water, soft drinks & alcoholic beverages are not included but may be purchased en route from local bottle stores or supermarkets. Please take along a bottle of your favourite drink/liquor. A continental breakfast consisting of cereals, bread, jams, tea, coffee and powdered milk is served in the mornings. Lunch is usually a cold picnic. Brunch with eggs and bacon is sometimes prepared when in camp. Dinner is a hot meal often prepared

Currency

The Malawi unit of currency is the kwacha (abbreviated to MK internationally; K locally). The kwacha is divided into 100 tambala. Practically speaking, only the kwacha is used. Banks in the towns are open weekdays from 0800 to 1300. Mobile banks operate along the Lakeshore and in more remote areas (check days/times locally). Travellers Cheques or foreign (hard) currency notes are widely accepted. Avoid black market currency traders. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency brought into Malawi but it must be declared and accounted for on departure. Only MK200 may be exported.

Communications

The telephone system is not entirely reliable. Most hotels and offices are readily reached by e-mail. The international telephone code for Malawi is 265. All Malawi landline numbers are now 8 digit, beginning 01. The 0 is dropped if dialing in from abroad. Coverage for mobile phones used to be restricted to the main towns, but is now gradually increasing. The postal system tends to be slow. DHL is the major international courier operating in Malawi.

Shopping
The traditional two main supermarket chains, PTC and Kandodo are now being superceded by ShopRite. These stores will be found in towns and larger villages. European-style shops are almost exclusively found in Blantyre and Lilongwe. Markets and roadside vendors are popular with travelers. Popular souvenirs are the excellent wood carvings, widely available, and straw goods. The standard of craftwork varies but at its best is quite outstanding. In the markets, bargaining is expected.

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