MONEY AND SPENDING
The local currency in Malawi is the Kwacha although US Dollars are widely accepted throughout the country. Credit card acceptance is improving but don’t rely on it in Malawi’s more remote or little-visited destinations.
Generally speaking Malawi is a very affordable destination so your spending money should go far. If you’re travelling with dollars, we’d recommend bringing some small denomination bills as you can pick up genuinely beautiful and affordable handmade crafts at the local markets. Just keep some money aside because you’ll need to pay an international departure tax of 30 US Dollars per person at Lilongwe Airport.
Service charges are not included in hotel, lodge and restaurant bills in Malawi. Tipping is entirely at your discretion – it is not compulsory but is enthusiastically received if you feel the service you received deserves a gratuity. The amount of tip you leave is based on the level of service you’ve received but the general guideline is about 10%.
Average summer temperatures: 20°C to 32°C
Average winter temperatures: 15°C to 28°C
Rainy season: December to March
WHAT TO PACK
Malawi is first and foremost a beach destination so pack accordingly – lightweight clothing, sandals, hats and, most importantly, sun screen! Mosquitoes are most active in the early mornings and evenings, so pack repellent and long-sleeved clothing to protect your wrists and ankles at these times. Be sure to leave some space in your suitcase as you’re likely to want to bring back lots of souvenirs from the local markets.
FLIGHTS AND GETTING AROUND
Lilongwe International Airport: daily flights from Johannesburg as well as regular flights from Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya means great options for a big game safari in Southern or East Africa followed by a beach holiday on nearby Lake Malawi.
Chileka International Airport: located in Blantyre, Malawi’s second international airport serves the country’s southern destinations.
It’s fairly easy to get around Malawi – roads are in relatively good condition and distances are generally short. Road transfers can be a good option particularly if you want to see a bit of Malawi but if you’d rather just get to the lake then your best option is a light aircraft charter flight. Luggage on charter flights is strictly limited to 12kg per person and needs be carried in soft-skinned suitcases.
Boat transfers take visitors to Lake Malawi’s islands or to Nkwichi Lodge on the lake’s remote Mozambican shore.
VISA AND PASSPORT REQUIRMENTS
All visitors to Malawi must be in possession of a passport valid for at least six months after date of departure. Visas to enter Malawi are not required by citizens of the USA, all Commonwealth countries and most European countries (except Switzerland). For those nationalities that do require visas, these cannot be obtained on arrival but must be obtained in advance from any Malawi embassy or consulate.
Visas are limited to 30 days but getting an extension once you’re in Blantyre or Lilongwe is relatively easy and free.
HEALTH AND MEDICAL
All visitors should be medically insured.
Malaria – we recommend that visitors to Malawi take malaria prophylactics. Bilharzia can be found in certain areas of Lake Malawi. Tetanus, polio, typhoid and the hepatitis vaccinations are recommended. Yellow fever immunization is required only by visitors entering Malawi from a yellow fever zone.
It is advisable to know your blood group type in case of emergency.
We recommend that luggage is fully insured.
We strongly advise that full insurance is put in place at point of confirmation. Please give us the details as above. We expect that every guest has insurance that covers the following as a minimum:
o Cancellation and curtailment
o Medical costs (including full hospital costs should it be needed)
o Personal accident or death
o Emergency evacuation from the point of evacuation to the nearest best hospital and then back to the guest’s home town. Family or traveling partner should also be covered for accompanying an evacuation.
We cannot emphasize how important it is to be fully covered. Private hospitals in Africa will not accept a patient until full medical insurance has been established.
Generally most properties in Malawi are on 220V, three square pin UK plugs.
Usually mains or generator power is used with others on solar energy. This will determine also whether hair dryers will work or not (vital for the lady traveler!). Kindly confirm with us for specific properties.
Please be sensitive when photographing local people and their villages. Ask the guide or the villagers first. Be careful when photographing public buildings and persons in uniform – again, ask first.