Malawi is a charming country between southern and East Africa that is little visited in comparison to its larger and more illustrious neighbours. But this is part of its appeal, since a holiday to Malawi allows one to get off the beaten track in an unspoilt and magical land. And the people are so friendly, you really will be blown away!
The country may be landlocked, but it is dominated by the incomparable Lake Malawi, dotted with quaint fishing villages, idyllic islands and crystal clear waters. It is one of Africa's Great Lakes, and offers an array of water sports from sailing, kayaking, scubadiving and snorkelling, as well as a wonderful beach holiday.
Malawi is not a Big Five destination but there are 11 national parks and wildlife reserves around the country. The most famous is Liwonde National Park in the south and the Nyika Plateau in the north. There are also a number of majestic mountain ranges, such as Mount Mulanje, with walking trails and outdoor adventures.
Malawi is a small country, especially by African standards, and this makes it pretty easy to get around and about, yet it boasts a diversity of landscapes that belies its size. Part of Malawi's magic lies in its easygoing and relaxed pace of life - do not visit here if you are in a rush! The friendly people will welcome you with open arms, the country is particularly safe and it offers you the chance to get to grips with the local way of life.
The flagship lake runs along the eastern part of the country, bordering Mozambique to the east and Tanzania to the north. It is home to the world's largest number of tropical fish species, and the water is suprisingly clear. It offers a unique beach holiday with its rocky islands and secluded coves and there are a few private lodges which offer the ultimate retreat with your loved one.
The birdlife in the game reserves is nothing short of phenomenal, especially in Liwonde National Park, while you will surely catch a sight of the Fish Eagle that circles the lake shores. Hippos and crocodiles also abound, as well as abundant plains game and mammals.
But most of all, Malawi is the perfect place to sway gently in your hammock, with the azure lake waters lapping up on an idyllic beach just beneath your toes. Take swims as you please, kayak across the lake, visit local villages and then sip a cocktail as the sun slowly sets on another day - you are on holiday after all!
Facts and Information
Malawi can be visited all year round with a pretty temperate climate. The summer is hot and humid with the rains falling between January and March, so many travellers do prefer the drier and cooler winter (May - October) which is also better for game viewing, hiking and most outdoor activities. It is a very safe country with little serious crime, and the only health issue for travellers is malaria.
Malawi is known as the warm heart of Africa, due to its friendly people and central location. It is also known as 'Africa for Beginners' because it is relatively easy to travel around. It is small so you can cover most distances within a day, the locals can speak English very well and travellers are treated with respect.
Malawi was colonised by the British and formerly known as Nyasaland, before it became independent in 1964. It is one of the world's poorest countries and is dependent on foreign aid, with high unemployment and overpopulation. Most people live in rural areas & the economy mainly revolves around subsistence farming.
Capital: Lilongwe, largest city - Blantyre
Government: Multi-party democracy. President Bingu wa Mutharika and Vice President Joyce Banda
Population: 13,931,831 (2008 estimate)
Visa: Very few nationalities require a visa for Malawi.
Language: Chichewa and English are the official languages
Currency: The local currency is the Kwacha, but we recommend you bring US Dollars cash too. There are few bank facilities, especially in the more remote lake resorts, and not all places accept credit cards or travellers cheques. Malawi is pretty cheap, even by African standards, and your money should go a long way.
Religion: Malawi was much visited by missionaries, including the famous explorer David Livingstone who set up his mission here in a town named Livingstonia. As such, over 80% of the inhabitants are Christian, mainly Protestant, with 15% following Islam, and many still incorporating these with their traditional beliefs.
Time Zone: Central African Time (UTC+2)
Travelling to Malawi
Malawi is relatively easy to reach, whether you are coming from another part of Africa or your home country. There are daily flights from Johannesburg, and regular arrivals from Botswana, Zimbabwe,Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda.
There are some direct flights from Dubai, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, while most travellers from the United States will pass through Nairobi or Johannesburg first. Both British Airways and KLM run scheduled flights to Malawi, often going via Nairobi en route.
There are 45 airports spread across Malawi, but international flights will arrive either at Chileka Airport in the south near the former capital of Blantyre, or at Kamuzu Aiport, 22km north of the current capital of Lilongwe. Please note that there is an international departure tax of US$30 which is included in your airfare.
Private charters can be organised to get you to the lakeside resort of your choice, though Malawi is a pretty small country, the roads are reasonably good and the distances to cover are not great. Many of the islands are best reached by boat, an adventure in itself. And for a taste of history, you can hop aboard the famed MV ILALA, a classic steamer ship which plies the length of the lake twice a week, stopping off at various islands on the way.
NB: We can organise everything from your international flights to your domestic charters or road transfers. Don't stress out about planning your journey - leave it to us and we will make it a pleasure. Don't delay - Get free, no-obligation advice to plan your tailor-made trip!