Malawi Travel Tips

time

GMT : +2 hours

climate

Malawi’s tropical climate is moderated across much of the country by altitude. Two seasons can be recognised; the dry season lasts from April through to November while the wet season lasts some four months, December to March. November to early December tends to be very hot and humid.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- 20°'s C / mid 70°'sF. In the short hot season, November-December, maximum temperatures may rise to the lower 30°'s C/upper 80°'s F. Lake Malawi’s surface temperatures vary from about 24°C/75°F to 28°C/82°F.

languages

Malawi’s official languages are English and Chichewa. Local tribe dialects can also be found.

public holidays

15 January Chilembwe Day
03 March Martyrs' Day
02 April - 05 April Easter
01 May Labour Day
14 June Freedom Day
06 July Republic Day
11 September Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
13 October Mothers' Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day

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.

health / immunization

Visitors are responsible for their own medical needs and it is advisable to carry comprehensive medical insurance. 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.Immunisation against polio, tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis is recommended.

Yellow fever immunisation is required only by visitors entering Malawi from a yellow fever zone. It is recommended to take anti-malaria tablets before entering Malawi (consult your GP or pharmacist for details). 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.

HIV/Aids is widespread in Malawi and it is recommended that visitors do not engage in any high-risk sexual or drug-related activities; which may cause exposure to the disease.

visas and entry requirements

When visiting Malawi for a period of up to 90 days, travelers from UK, Commonwealth countries, the USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. Before departing for Malawi, check with the nearest Malawian Consulate or Embassy for any possible changes regarding the visa requirements. Passports must carry a validity of 6 months beyond intended date of departure from Malawi. All visitors must have a return or onward tickets, all documents necessary for return or onward journeys and sufficient funds for their duration of stay.

Until 2008 a separate Departure Tax was payable in US$ notes on leaving Malawi's international airports. This is now incorporated into the cost of the flight tickets and no separate payment need now be made. Departure tax on domestic flights is just

MWK1035 (approx US$2).

money

The Malawi unit of currency is the kwacha (abbreviated to MK internationally; K locally). The kwacha is divided into 100 tambala. 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.

telephones

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.

dress

Dress is generally informal but some hotel restaurants may require men to wear ties. Swimwear and very skimpy clothing should be confined to the beach resorts. For safaris, "natural " colours should be worn in preference to light/bright colours. In the uplands, especially in the winter months April to September, it can be cool in the evening and sweaters may be needed. It can be very cold on an early morning safari drive. Dressing for dinner is rarely necessary, though the top Blantyre restaurants may insist upon a tie for men.

water

Tap water should generally be avoided for drinking purposes.

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