Malawi General Information

Malawi

Quick Facts

Region: Africa

Population:
15,028,757

Religion:

The majority are Christian, approximately 75 percent, although still intertwined with traditional African practices. 20 percent Muslim.

Language:

English is the official language of Malawi however Chichewa is more commonly spoken.

Area (sq. km):
118,480 square meters

Time:

GMT +2

When To Travel

Average daytime maximums in the lower areas are about 21°C (70°F) in July and 26°C (79°F) in January. In the higher areas, the climate is pleasant, with temperatures averaging around 20°C (68°F) between November and April, and 27°C (81°F) from May to October. Average night-time temperatures in the highlands are low, sometimes dropping below freezing on clear nights in July. On the lakeshore temperatures are higher.

The best time to visit Malawi overall is in the dry season, which lasts from late April to October or November. The months of October and November, at the end of the dry season, are the best times for wildlife viewing; however, the temperatures can be uncomfortably hot. May to August is dry and cool. Malawi has a single wet season, from December to March, when daytime temperatures are warm and conditions humid.

Useful Travel Facts

Airports:

The major international airport is located in Lilongwe which is located 25km north of the city. For those flying out the airport departure tax for international flights is US$20, payable in US dollars cash only.

Telephone:

The international dialing code for Malawi is: +265 Mobile phone prefixes are 08 or 09

Electricity:

Malawi uses 230V, 50 cycles – Plugs and sockets are the three square pin, (British).

Food:

Traditional Malawian food revolves around maize served with a variety of stews known as relishes. The most popular dish is chambo, a delicate white-fleshed fish found in great numbers in the lake. In major cities fast foods such as pizza, burgers and fried chicken are very popular. Traditional beer from the region is made from maize with the local lager called Kuche Kuche.

Transport:

You can travel around Malawi by air, road, rail or boat. Distances between major centres are short and the roads are generally in good condition, although in recent years several stretches of road have become very badly potholed. The main road through Malawi runs from the north down to Mzuzu, then through the centre of the country to Lilongwe, and onto Blantyre and the south. We use custom built safari vehicles when travelling with Gecko’s in Africa.

Shopping:

Malawi produces a variety of colourful arts and crafts. Items are invariably handmade and there is no factory production of curios. Purchases include woodcarvings, wood and cane furniture, soapstone carvings, decorated wooden articles, colourful textiles, pottery, beadwork, cane and raffia items. The standard of woodcarving is one of the highest in Africa. Traditional musical instruments are also sold throughout Malawi.

Visa: Visas for Malawi are not required for citizens of Commonwealth countries, the USA and most European nations (except Switzerland). Visas are limited to 30 days although extensions are easy to obtain.

Useful Words & Phrases

Further Reading

‘Day Outings from Lilongwe’ and ‘Day Outings from Blantyre’ by the Wildlife Society of Malawi are both highly recommended. ‘Ventures to the Interior’ by Lars van der Post.