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Malawi

Malawi Safari InformationMalawi shares borders to the north and northeast with Tanzania, to the south, east and southwest with Mozambique and to the north and northwest with Zambia. Lake Malawi, the third-largest lake in Africa, is the dominant feature of the country, forming the eastern boundary with Tanzania and Mozambique. The scenery varies in the different regions: the Northern Region is mountainous, the highest peaks reaching to over 3000m (9843ft), with the rolling Nyika Plateau, rugged escarpments, valleys and the thickly forested slopes of the Viphya Plateau. The Central Region is mainly a plateau, over 1000m (3300ft) high, with fine upland scenery. This is the country's main agricultural area. The Southern Region is low-lying with the 2100m-high (6890ft) Zomba Plateau south of Lake Malawi and the huge, isolated Mulanje Massif in the southeast. The variety of landscape and the wildlife it supports make this relatively unspoiled country particularly attractive to visitors. The capital is Lilongwe. The current population stands at 12 million with an average density of 84.7 people per square km. Blantyre, with a population of 332,000 is the largest city in the country.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

All visitors require valid passports and return air tickets. Visas are required by nationals of foreign countries excluding the following: All Commonwealth countries, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the USA. Entry into Malawi is permitted for a maximum duration of 90 days. There are no inoculation requirements.

Note: Please check with your nearest Malawi Consulate for up to date information for other than US citizens.

DEPARTURE TAX

For those passengers flying out of Malawi, there is a US$30 international departure tax that must be paid direct.

CURRENCY

The local currency unit is the Malawi Kwache (K) equal to 100 Tambala. Notes are in denominations of K200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 Tambala. Acceptance of credit cards is limited, but in the capital and main hotels Access/Mastercard, Diners Club and American Express can be used. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available. Travelers’ checks, and major currencies, including US Dollars and Sterling, can be exchanged in commercial banks, hotels and other institutions. Banking hours are Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 1:00pm. In remote areas, the Treasury Office of Local District Commissioners offices will cash checks. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take travelers’ checks in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

CLIMATE

The climate varies from cool in the highlands to warm around Lake Malawi. Winter (May to July) is dry and nights can be cold, particularly in the highlands. The rainy season runs from November to March. Around Lake Malawi the climate is particularly dry with cooling breezes. Precipitation varies between 635 and 3050 mm. On the plateau the temperatures are pleasant, averaging between 68 and 81°F throughout the year but they can drop to as low as 38°F in winter. In the lowland areas of the south it is much hotter with temperatures rising as high as 100°F.

WATER

It is probably wise to make use of bottled water for drinking rather than risk problems by using tap water.

ELECTRICITY

The electricity supply is 230 or 240V AC, 50 Hz. Most modern buildings use rectangular square 3-pin plugs.

COMMUNICATIONS

Good standard postal services exist as well as an express same day option. There are also international courier services available. A direct international dialing service is available from the major cities, hotels and lodges throughout the country. For international telephone calls, the country code is 265 – regional country codes are available from the operator. There is also a GSM cellular phone network in operation. Safari lodges communicate via two-way radio or by cellular/satellite phone.

TIME ZONE

Greenwich Mean Time + 2 hours throughout the year.

LANGUAGE

The official language is English. However, Chichewa is widely spoken and is being promoted by the state as the national language and in the north, the predominant language is Chitumbuka. The English-speaking visitor to Malawi will have no problems while traveling throughout the country.

EMBASSIES

USA UK
Kenyata Road
Capital City
Lilongwe
Telephone: 265 783 166
Fax: 265 780 471
Kenyata Road
Capital City
Lilongwe
Telephone: 265 782 400

WHAT TO BUY

Wood carving is what Malawians are known for, especially carvings in ebony. However, the demand is beginning to cause an environmental problem, so we urge you to please be aware of and sensitive to the conservation issues surrounding deforestation for tourist consumption of wood carvings.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

1 January
New Years Day
15 January John Chilembwe Day
3 March
Martyrs’ Day
1 May
Labour Day
15 June Freedom Day
6 July Republic Day
12 October Mothers’ Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day