Malawi is known on the one hand for its large lake of the same name, but also for its hills in which monkeys jump through the forests. Antelopes graze in open pastureland and tea plantations cover the foothills of the Mulanje Mountains. In this country, every holidaymaker gets his money’s worth with safaris, beach holidays or hikes.
Even if the Liwonde National Park in Malawi is not necessarily the most obvious destination for a safari vacation, the park is enjoying increasing popularity with tourists. Here you can enjoy game drives, bush walks and boat trips along the 402 km long River Shire. Hippos, crocodiles, elephants and a variety of birds can be discovered. Lake Malawi awaits with beautiful sandy beaches and the third largest cathedral in Africa is located on the remote island of Likoma (Isle of Baobab).
Best travel time
According to philosophynearby, Malawi is known as the “warm heart of Africa” - although this is more thanks to the good-hearted and friendly people than to the country’s climate. In Malawi, even in the cool months of June, July and August, there are consistently high temperatures of over 26 ° C. As there is a rainy and a dry season, you should take this into account when traveling to Malawi. The best time to travel depends on what you are planning to do in Malawi.
Winter, between May and October, is the dry season in Malawi. While it can be quite cool in the north of the country, the Nyika Plateau, Lake Malawi and its surroundings offer wonderful, sunny and dry weather. The time of year is perfect for a beach vacation. In addition, due to the drought, the wild animals go to the watering holes, so it is an ideal time of year to be able to observe animals. The best time to travel to Malawi is between May and August. The days are then very warm and visibility is good, but after sunset the temperature drops noticeably in the evening. So if you are planning a safari at this time of year, bring warm clothing with you – especially if you plan to go on a game drive at night! In September and October, high temperatures of over 30 ° C can be expected. If you plan to go on safari at this time of year, make sure you have sun protection and appropriate clothing.
The rainy season is between November and April . Although temperatures remain very high during these months, there is always significant amount of rainfall during this season. Because of the very high humidity, it can be very uncomfortable. However, the considerable amount of precipitation also has advantages. The landscape is increasingly lush green and it is a very good time for bird watching. November in particular is a good month to travel as you still have the chance of warm days, but you will also experience some of the first rainfall of the season. If you are interested in bird watching, November is the perfect month to travel. Many species of birds shed their winter feathers and replace their plumage with lighter colors for courtship.
Precipitation is highest from December to March, but temperatures remain above 30 ° C, so that the humidity is also very high. If you travel at this time of year, be sure to bring mosquito repellants, as well as anti-malarial drugs and protective clothing. By April the rain decreases or sometimes stops completely. Towards the end of April, when temperatures are high and rainfall low, the landscapes look beautiful and you can travel to a beautiful country.
The rains are very heavy this month and large, impressive thunderstorms regularly sweep across the country. However, this is a good time for bird watchers as migratory birds from the northern hemisphere can be seen in all of Malawi’s national parks. However, many of the lodges around Lake Malawi are closed at this time.
It continues to rain a lot and bird watching is still spectacular, especially in Nyika National Park. Numerous orchids bloom in the valleys of the national park and can be seen as colorful spots all over the plateau.
The weather is still fickle in March. The rains slowly decrease over the course of the month. The young birds are growing rapidly and preparing for the long journey back to the northern hemisphere for the summer. The flowers bloom in full bloom and provide plenty of food and pollen for insects, which in turn serves as food for the birds and gives them the energy for their long journey.
The weather and climate in the country is becoming drier, the rain subsiding and being replaced by increasing sunshine and stable temperatures. In the national parks the antelopes are in the rut and spectacular clashes between the rival males can be observed.
As the days get sunnier and cooler, the crocodile mating season begins in Liwonde National Park and Majete Game Reserve. The courtship process begins with the males roaring, blowing bubbles, and fighting for dominance. They swim with their heads held high and flaunt themselves as the female usually mates with the most dominant male nearby.
The days are long and sunny, but temperatures drop significantly during this time of year. In the evenings and mornings it is very cold in the highland regions and a log fire is lit for both tourists and locals. The elephant population in Liwonde National Park congregates around the River Shire during the drier periods. Strawberry heads (lovebirds) gather in large flocks by the hundreds in Liwonde National Park from June to August.
While the cool, sunny weather continues, the chances of sightings of larger elephant herds of often up to a hundred animals are very good.
Temperatures generally rise, even during the night .. During the day it is an average of 30 ° C and at night the thermometer can reach up to 10 ° C. The size of the herds of animals is growing and the limited space at the water points creates tension between the animals. August is a wonderful time of year to visit Lake Malawi. The temperatures are perfect for water sports or relaxing in the sun.
Nightly temperatures rise rapidly during the month. Most of the time the sun is shining, the sky is clear and it is extremely dry. The concentration of elephants and other wildlife is great and it is also a popular time of year to visit Lake Malawi. The windy afternoons make for perfect sailing conditions.
The daytime temperatures regularly rise to over 40 ° C and the nights are warm. The majestic eland is the largest antelope in the world and can often be seen in Nyika National Park when herds regroup for the breeding season. The larger herds vary in size from around 100 to 320 animals, which makes for an impressive sight.
November is usually a very interesting month when the first storms of the emerald season appear. The emerald season is the time when it starts to rain again and the landscape gradually regains its lush green. The onset of rain usually coincides with the arrival of many migratory birds returning to Malawi from the colder climates north of the equator.
The rainfall increases in December and thunderstorms occur every few days. At that time the crocodiles also bring their young to the edge of the water and guard the offspring for two weeks.
Climate in Lilongwe
The maximum temperature in Malawi is 30 ° C in October. In July the thermometer rises to a maximum of 23 ° C. The summer (June to September) with average 25 ° C warm . In the winter months it is around 27 ° C very warm . During the day, the average annual temperature in Malawi is a warm 26.5 ° C.
At night it gets coldest with 9 ° C in June, July and August. The thermometer rarely falls below 18 ° C in January and December. While the nights in summer are averaging a mild 10 ° C, the thermometer drops to a warm 17 ° C between November and March. The temperature averages 13.8 ° C at night all year round.
With 18 rainy days, January is the rainiest month of the year. From June to September Malawi is extremely dry with an average of only around 0 rainy days, the winter (November to March) is relatively humid with 13 rainy days. Every month there is an annual average of 6.3 days of rain.
The official language of Malawi is English. The indigenous languages of Malawi all belong to the Bantu group. Chichewa is the most common, especially in the south and center of the country. In the north, Chitumbuka is the most widely spoken language.
Food and drink
The traditional Malawian food is nsima, a cereal porridge made from cornmeal. It is rolled into small balls and used in a variety of stews. Those who can afford it eat beef, chicken or fish. Those who cannot afford it eat beans, dried fish (kapenta), pumpkin leaves (chibwabwa), and other vegetables. Local restaurants serve Nsima with side dishes for less than 1 euro.
The food options in the large cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre are good. Fast food is just as popular in Malawi as it is in foreign restaurants. Out of consideration for the Muslim population, many restaurants do not offer pork products. Camps, hotels and lodges aimed at visitors from Europe and overseas offer very international cuisine.
The currency of Malawi is the kwacha. The exchange rate fluctuates and is currently around € 1 = 800 Kwacha. You can exchange kwacha for Malawi to shop in local shops. Lodges accept and prefer payments in Euros and US Dollars. In Malawi, even in many lodges, credit cards are not accepted and there are only a few ATMs. We therefore recommend that you bring a lot of cash in euros or US dollars with you to pay for drinks and additional activities in your lodge on site.
Flashy clothing should be avoided when traveling outside of the big cities or your lodge. Malawi’s Muslim population is relatively large, so women may feel more comfortable with their shoulders and knees covered.
Malawians are curious and generally very friendly people. For tourists from western countries it can feel strange to be stared at or talked about. Be prepared to be greeted by children saying “mzungu, mzungu!” (white man!) and ask lots of questions about you. The Malawians like to shake hands, you shouldn’t refuse this out of courtesy. Whenever you speak to a Malawian, even if you have just one question, you should always greet politely. People are uncomfortable with the western way of simply getting to the point at the beginning of a conversation.
Do not take photos of people without permission. Photography at airports and in military facilities is not permitted.