Malawi is a beautiful country. Whether it's Lake Malawi, Liwonde National Park or Majete Wildlife Reserve, holidays to Malawi offer a wide range of varied landscapes home to wonderful wildlife like the Big Five.

In the following Malawi travel guide, our Travel Specialists provide their Malawi travel advice so you can travel to Malawi in utter peace and comfort. Discover mixed terrains and picturesque places, from evergreen forests to rural villages, and spot animals such as lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino. Additionally, you can discover lesser seen wildlife like antelope and an abundance of endemic birds.

Essential Tips for Seamless Malawi Travel

Where is Malawi located?

Malawi is located in southern Africa.

As you can see on our map of Malawi, the neighbouring countries of Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique fully surround its narrow and landlocked border. Within the centre, you'll find Lake Malawi, which dominates a majority of the region. Its capital city, Lilongwe, is situated on the inland plains in the south.

What's the weather like in Malawi?

Malawi can be divided into two distinct seasons, the dry season and rainy season. The dry season is characterised by its cooler temperatures and excellent game viewing while the rainy season is known for its heavy rainfall and lush, green landscapes. For more, discover the Best Time of Year to Visit Malawi.

What Language is Spoken in Malawi?

The official language of Malawi is English.

However, it's also a multilingual country. Chichewa is the national language, spoken mostly in the southern and central regions. Yao is a Bantu language, used by approximately two million Malawians. Tumbuka was once the official language, but lost its status following the 'one nation, one language' policy in 1968.

Other languages spoken are Malawian Lomwe, Nyakyusa-Ngonde, Malawian Sena and Tonga. Smaller populations of Malawians speak Zulu, Afrikaans, Lambya, Kacchi, Kokola, Ndali, Nyiha and Nyika.

What Currency is Used in Malawi?

The official currency of Malawi is the Malawian Kwacha (MWK), but USD is widely accepted.

Malawi Flights and Getting Around

International flights

Flights to Malawi from London take approximately 14-17 hours, depending on your chosen route.

Flights to Malawi from Manchester take approximately 16-19 hours, depending on your chosen route.

The main Malawi airports you'll travel to are either Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe or Chileka International Airport in Blantyre.

National flights

Travel from South Africa, Kenya or Ethiopia.

Kenya Airways operates daily flights via Nairobi.

Ethiopian Airlines operates regular flights to both the capital city, Lilongwe, and Blantyre via Addis Ababa.

South African Airways operates regular flights from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways also run services several times a week to Chileka International Airport, which is a 25-minute drive north of Blantyre.

Proflight operates regular flights to Lilongwe from neighbouring country Zambia.

Domestic flights

Internal flights are run by Ulendo Airlink, who operates regularly between Lilongwe, South Malawi and Likoma Island, North Malawi. In addition, regular flights to Mfuwe run in Zambia and to the south of Malawi for easy access to Majete Wildlife Reserve. It also operates flights to Mvuu in Liwonde National Park.

Driving in Malawi

If you choose to drive, ensure your travel insurance is up to date. This will help cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in case of an emergency.

Alternatively, you can explore Malawi with an experienced driver/guide. While travelling by road in the comfort of a luxury vehicle, you'll see real ‘everyday’ life with roadside markets, shops, schools, local food or trade stores and repair shops. The drives from one place to another are long, however. So, if you can afford to include a light aircraft flight on one or two of the legs, then we recommended you do so.

Vaccinations Required for Travel to Malawi

Malaria is present throughout the year, so taking prophylactics is essential.

As for yellow fever, while Malawi is not a yellow fever risk country, proof of vaccination is required if you are travelling through an airport of a country that has yellow fever. There is Bilharzia in some parts of Lake Malawi. So, please consult your personal medical practitioner before travelling.

Please refer to the FCDO's Health Notes or NHS Website for prospective travellers to Malawi.

Is it Safe to Travel to Malawi?

Malawi is considered to be a relatively safe destination. It's a peaceful country that's largely stable politically and features beautiful landscapes that you can explore to see its fascinating wildlife population.

Providing the chlorine hasn't depleted, the tap water in most towns is generally safe to drink. However, you can buy bottled water in all major shops. We recommend opting for bottled water to be on the safe side.

The Best Places to Visit and Things to Do in Malawi

There's a remarkable array of activities and places to visit in Malawi. Each type of safari you can think of is available and the natural tourist attractions range from evergreen forests, like Michiru Forest Reserve, to spectacular mountains, such as Zomba Plateau. There are rustic, rural villages and charming towns too.

Lake Malawi

The second largest lake in Africa, Lake Malawi was 'discovered' by Dr David Livingstone 165 years ago. Today, it remains integral to the country's growing tourist industry, providing incredible wildlife experiences and boat activities for you to discover, from Cape Maclear to the freshwater diving sites.

At Cape Maclear, you can explore Lake Malawi National Park, the first freshwater aquatic national parks declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Throughout the crystal-clear waters, there are between 700 and 1000 fish species such as cichlids – the largest number found in any lake worldwide. Not only can you go snorkelling with them, but you can also relax on the sunny beach or go kayaking to see fish eagle fishing.

Liwonde National Park

Why not safari far away from the crowds of neighbouring countries at Liwonde National Park?

Here, you'll spot all sorts of creatures. Leopards lurk in the tallgrass in hopes of catching its prey by surprise while the variety of birdlife, including weavers and openbills, can be seen soaring in the skies. Embark on a boat safari on the Shire River and you might be able to observe an abundance of hippos poking their heads out of the water. Additionally, there are elephants, waterbucks, zebras and crocodiles.

It's a beautiful park, wonderfully located near Blantyre and Cape Maclear and featuring incredible safaris.

Majete Wildlife Reserve

Lying on the Lower Shire Valley in southwest Malawi, Majete Wildlife Reserve is one of the country's greatest success stories, overcoming decades of poaching, illegal encroachment and hard wood logging.

Nowadays, you can enjoy a boat safari and see an abundance of the 300+ bird species, from bateleur to cuckoo hawk, white-backed vulture and Bohm's bee-eater. By venturing on foot via a walking safari, you'll even be able to track black rhino in the special, protected section with expert rangers leading the way. Explore the mature miombo woodlands and granite topped hills while looking out for the thriving wildlife.

Nyika National Park

Extending 1,250 square miles across Nyika Plateau, Nyika National Park is Malawi's largest park.

Reaching altitudes of 8,000 feet and encompassing vibrant, evergreen forests, this is the perfect setting for your outdoor activities. There's a high concentration of antelope, from duiker to eland, and other iconic African wildlife such as leopard and buffalo. Spot over 400 species of bird while hiking through mountains and capture stunning photos of elephants while embarking on a 4×4 safari excursion in the vast plains.

By visiting in the rainy season, you'll also see more than 200 different species of orchid blooming all over.


The capital city of Lilongwe is a must-visit during your time in Malawi. Explore Old Town's charming markets and cafés before heading to Capital City and browsing curious trinkets at the modern shops. Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, although not a game viewing environment, is home to orphaned, rescued and injured animals. It's won many awards and is key for conservation in the local area around the city.

North of the city, near the shores of Lake Malawi, is Nkotakhota Wildlife Reserve. After enjoying your city break, you can go walking and hiking throughout the wilderness area and observe the prolific birdlife. Giant kingfisher and palm nut vultures as well as 130 other recorded species inhabit the lush woodlands.

What is the Most Popular Food in Malawi?

Malawi food is delicious. From muboora (a traditional pumpkin leaves dish) to nsima (maize porridge), the local cuisine remains as true to the country's traditions as possible. A variety of fishes, including chambo, mlamba, usipa and kampango, are caught at Lake Malawi and fried before being served with nsima and fresh, locally sourced vegetables. After your meal, opt for a mandazi as a flavoursome sweet dessert.

In addition to the mouth-watering food in Malawi, the drinks are equally as amazing. Savour a traditional Malawi gin & tonic while basking in the glorious sunset and sample the kuche kuche, a light local beer. Mawehu is a refreshing non-alcoholic malt drink and chibuku is a homemade beer served in a milk carton.

Malawi Culture and Events

Malawi culture is fascinating. The majority of Malawians are Christian and a minority Muslim, making religion an important element to the people and culture in Malawi. Not only that, but there are many Malawi festivals you can partake in, such as the Lake of Stars Festival. Featuring joyful musical performances, vibrant dances and touching poetry recitals, it's a unique event which is held annually.

Other cultural experiences include visiting historical sites and meeting the ever-smiling Malawians.

Shelley's Tips for a Memorable Malawi Trip

Our Africa Travel Specialist, Shelley Phillips, shares her top tips for experiencing a memorable holiday.

  • "Malawi is great if you're looking to return to Africa but hoping to experience something a little different. Its back-to-basics and off-the-beaten-track adventure is all a part of the unique charm."

  • "Lake Malawi's ‘beaches’ are perfect for relaxing at the end of your holiday. They're rustic in style – similar to Zanzibar, but with less tourism. Discover little cichlids while scuba diving and snorkelling!"

  • "If you're travelling from Majete Wildlife Reserve to Liwonde National Park, stop at Kefi Hotel Café on the Zomba Plateau to taste fresh and delicious food. It's an ideal break in-between your journey."

To create your own unforgettable memories and experience the wildlife of 'The Warm Heart of Africa', explore our Malawi holiday ideas or call our Travel Specialists to tailor-make your ultimate itinerary.

Kristen Lanskail-Morris

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.

Why Choose Us?

Passionate travel experts

  • We've been leading wildlife travel since our first South Africa tours over 25 years ago
  • Our Travel Specialists have lived in their specialist area for years
  • We work with local guides to immerse you deeper in our diverse range of experiences

Personal & tailor-made

  • You'll speak to your own expert who'll share their first-hand knowledge
  • We'll make your itinerary seamless with 24/7 emergency contact available
  • Your Travel Specialist will listen to ensure you have the best chance of seeing the wildlife you love

Responsible by nature

  • We take care to actively contribute to the conservation of environments we visit
  • For select countries, we make a charitable donation on your behalf when you make your booking
  • We've partnered with conservation experts and NGOs to curate responsible tours
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