Malawi

Travel information, guide and need to know information for Malawi including flight Information, when to go, visa requirements, health advice, government travel advice, travel news, recommended books and maps, money matters, getting around and other essential travel information.

New International Airstrip for Lake Malawi

The Makokola airstrip on the Southern Shore of Lake Malawi is now Malawi’s fourth international airport. This will make combinations between Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park and Lake Malawi even easier. For clients that, after an exhilarating but tiring safari in the South Luangwa, wish to relax and recuperate on Lake Malawi’s beautiful sandy beaches, they can now be at the Lake within an hour of leaving Mfuwe International Airport.

It is no longer necessary to stop in Lilongwe to clear customs and immigration or to refuel. It can all be done directly at Makokola. This way visitors don’t lose a precious day of safari. If staying at a distant bush camp, they can still do their morning walks, have brunch and leave the camp in time for an afternoon flight to Lake Malawi.

The runway can take anything up to ATR 42, Dakota DC 3 and King Air and offers the possibility of refuelling for both Avgas and JetA1 Fuel. With Makokola officially now being an international airstrip, access from neighbouring countries is must more achievable as they do not need to fly elsewhere in order to clear customs – this can be done at Makokola itself.

As well as giving immediate access to the outstanding Makokola Retreat, the airport can also be used to reach the growing number of international–standard lodges on the southern shores of Lake Malawi, including those in the Lake Malawi National Park, at Cape Maclear, just half an hour’s drive away.

Malawi Tourist Board Finalist

Malawi has been nominated as an awards finalist in the Best African Tourism Board in Africa category in the 2012 Safari Awards. One of Africa’s most picturesque and compact countries, Malawi is in good company with other finalists in the group including safari industry giants of South Africa, Kenya, Botswana and Namibia.

This is a second time nomination for Malawi, which is becoming an increasingly popular choice for independent travellers, honeymooners and families. Renowned for its lake, wildlife experiences, beaches, water-sports, landscapes and culture, Malawi is also attributed with a relaxed  ‘bare foot’ luxury appeal.

Over the last twelve months Malawi’s tourism industry has been boosted by significant investment from a number of sources. The country’s natural attributes, and quality tourism products has led to increasing support from high profile operators and accommodation providers such as Robin Pope Safaris and Saga.

In Malawi’s lower Shire Valley, the Majete Wildlife Reserve has been the focus of much industry and media attention, the 70,000 hectare reserve has been an on-going conservation success story with over 2550 head of wildlife, including elephant, buffalo, sable and black rhino.

This year the conservation project has culminated with the re-introduction of predators, including the successful release of four leopards. In August the reserve will become the proud recipients of four lions from South Africa, completing the return of the Big Five, a significant milestone in the rehabilitation of the reserve.

In the east of the country, around $850,000 is being invested by The World Bank into the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve to conserve and protect wildlife, develop strategies to drive sustainable tourism, and train staff in guiding and natural resource management.

The vast and breathtakingly beautiful 700sq miles of Nkhotakota’s is the third largest protected area in Malawi and one of the least known. The investment is expected to boost visitor numbers and interest in the region.

In addition to investment in wildlife, Malawi is benefiting from improvement to its infrastructure with better airlinks being established. In June, Ethiopian Airlines introduced an improved summer schedule from London Heathrow to Lilongwe, three flights a week from LHR will operate via Addis Ababa and another three operating via Addis and Lubumbashi.

Kelly White, Managing Director of the Malawi Travel Marketing Consortium commented:

“We are thrilled with this industry recognition, and indeed with the growing interest that Malawi is now rightly receiving as a destination, this is a credit to all our partners that we have worked so hard over the years. We are also delighted to see Kaya Mawa, on Likoma Island nominated in the ‘Best Beach Safari’ category and wish them the best of luck.”

Malawi Wildlife Update

Set on the Shire in Liwonde National Park, River Mvuu Camp and lodge are well located for game viewing in Malawi.  Recently game viewing has been excellent as the park’s animals are emerging from the thickets around the river in search of water. Most of the natural waterholes in the park and sanctuary dry up at this time of year as water becomes scarcer within the park in the upcoming months, guests can expect to see a higher concentration of wildlife (particularly elephants and antelope) frequenting the river more often.

Warthogs have been spotted mating on several occasions, African Civets, White-tailed Mongoose, Large Spotted Genets and Porcupines have all ben seen regularly. Waterbuck and impala sightings are guaranteed at Mvuu. Small herds of zebra, buffalo and Lichtenstein’s Hartebeests were all seen in the rhino sanctuary.

Other game sightings remain encouraging, including eight zebras, nine Roan antelopes, 36 Sable antelopes, a herd of 70 buffalo, 3 Lichtenstein’s hartebeests, 12 Bush Pigs and fresh black rhino and lion tracks.

Other wildlife news from Chelinda Lodge in Nyika National Park includes an unusual predator scenario. As one of the spotters shone his light along the road at night, there were two Spotted hyaenas feeding on a fresh kill of reedbuck. Whilst the hyaenas feasted, a leopard quietly waited for his turn. Hyaenas are often scavengers but curiously, the tables were turned in this instance. The hyaenas devoured prime chunks of their kill whilst the leopard waited patiently for the leftovers.

A pair of Cape Clawless Otters were also spotted. This is an exceptionally rare sighting for the Nyika. Cape Clawless Otters are diurnal (active during the day) but are also known to hunt on moonlit nights. This species of otter is very playful and agile and they are excellent swimmers. Unlike other African Otter species, the Cape Clawless Otter spends a considerable amount of time out of the water and often wanders several kilometers away from water sources.

Majete Game Reserve News Update

After the successful introduction of leopard last October and the expected arrival of lion into Majete this August, a new tourism management team has now been established in the Reserve.

This began with the arrival of Vasco Munthali, a professional safari guide in February. He has a wealth of experience in guiding with local and international tourists in Malawi and Zambia. Shelley Preece is the new marketing manager. After 20 years of working in post-conflict development she retrained as a lodge / tourism manager in 2010 and joined Majete in March.

Anissa Osman-Hamdani is the new tourism manager. She worked for 6 years in hotel management in Zimbabwe and managed the Illovo Senior Sports Club before joining African Parks. She has a wealth of experience in catering and restaurant management

New hides have been built in Majete Wildlife Reserve at the Nsepete water hole and Mvuu Spot by the Shire River  along the new tourism game drive loops on the river.

 

Danforth Yacht Research Expedition

The yacht Mufasa form Danforth Yachting at Cape Maclear has recently returned from an amazing month-long expedition around Lake Malawi, including reaching the most northerly point on the lake. The yacht was booked as a charter for a group of research scientists, microbiologists, water specialists and lab technicians. The object of their exercise was to collect water samples at very specific waypoints and specific depths, all the way along Lake Malawi, starting at Nkhotakota and working northwards.

Everywhere they went the group were met with a warm welcome, friendliness, hospitality and helpfulness and they experienced great camaraderie all along the lakeshore.

New Affordable Lodge opens on Likoma Island

Situated on the West Side of Malawi’s Likoma island, with spectacular sunsets and an ever changing sandy beach, Ulisa Bay Lodge has recently opened its doors. The lodge has 2 Deluxe Ensuite Chalets and 2 Standard Chalets so guests are guaranteed personal service.

Deluxe Chalets are spacious with a double and a single bed and space for an extra bed if required, they have mains electricity and are fully furnished each with its own en suite bathroom, hot shower and secure safe. Standard Chalets have either a double bed or 2 single beds and share an outside washroom with a hot shower. All Chalets have large verandas overlooking the lake, solar powered backup lighting and airy mosquito nets.

The bar and restaurant at Ulisa Bay Lodge has a wooden deck which is open on three sides to catch the breezes off the lake, and their experienced chefs make maximum use of the local resources of the island- particularly fresh fish! The bar is well stocked with beers, ciders, soft drinks, fruit juice, spirits and fine wines.

The lodge is built on the edge of Ulisa, a busy fishing village, so guests can relax at the lodge, meet the islanders at the bar, see the fishing boats going with their bright lights to fish at night, and wander through the village. There are tracks & footpaths throughout the island with wonderful views over the lake.  Lodge staff will be happy to escort you on walks to view Likoma’s many attractions including the enormous brick & stone Cathedral built on a rocky hillside over 100 years ago by the English Missionaries, and still filled with over 500 people and 3 choirs every Sunday.

The lodge has teamed up with Nkhotakota Pottery & Lodge on the mainland who will put you on the famous Ilala Ferry that travels weekly up and down the lake.   Early on Saturday mornings the ferry departs Nkhotakota for Likoma Island, travel 1st Class (including meals) on the famous Ilala Ferry from Nkhotakota Jetty. The Ilala has been transporting people and their possessions along Lake Malawi for over 60 years and offers a wonderful experience of life on the Lake. You’ll stop briefly at Mozambique on the way to Likoma Island. On arrival you’ll be met on the ship and taken to Ulisa Bay Lodge for 3 days of island luxury in Deluxe Lake Shore Chalets. On Tuesday morning you’ll be escorted to the Ilala and you arrive at Nkhotakota Pottery Lodge late in the evening.

Contact Specialist Africa for further details.

Map of Malawi

Culture and traditions in Malawi

It  is customarily expected by most Malawians to be greeted with a friendly ‘Hello, how are you?’ and a handshake. Also you should ask permission before taking photographs of people and homosexuality is illegal. Women may dress as they please but should take local custom and religion into account when travelling outside of the main tourist areas.

Money advice for Malawi

Local Currency

Malawian Kwacha (MWK)

General Advice

The Local Kwacha is divided into 100 tambalas. There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency brought into the country but it should be declared on arrival and accounted for on departure.  Only 200MK may be taken out of the country.

Money Exchange

Cash can be exchanged in banks and foreign exchange bureaus in all major towns.  Banks in towns are often only open in the mornings between 0800 and 1300.

ATM Availability

ATMs do not always accept international cards. For more information check theVisa ATM locator, the MasterCard ATM locator or the American Express ATM locator for the addresses of ATMs around the world.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are not widely accepted and can only be used in major hotels, airlines and car hire agencies – always check in advance. Credit cards and debit cards should be used with caution due to the potential for fraud and other criminal activity.

Other Information

Mobile banks sometimes service lakeshore villages and more remote towns – times and days for these will need to be checked locally.

Events in Malawi

Event Occurs Description
Lake Malawi Sailing Competition July Sailing event based on Lake Malawi
Mulanje Porters Race July Mount Mulanje Porters Race – run 25km up and across the Chambe Plateau.
Lake of Stars Music Festival October Lake of Stars is an award winning music festival that takes place in the warm heart of Africa on the palm fringed shores of Lake Malawi. The event promotes Malawian music and tourism, raises funds for charity and provides travellers and Malawians alike with the opportunity to enjoy incredible live music in an exotic and beautiful location.

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Africa Travel Information