As a year-round destination, Malawi is truly a gem in the safari destination landscape. Also known as “The Warm Heart of Africa”, its diverse scenery, wildlife, and culture make this landlocked country in the southeastern part of the continent a favourite among visitors. The shining diamond of the country is undoubtedly Lake Malawi. This inviting body of water occupies a third of the country and is regarded as one of the most fertile grounds in the world, where fish species flourish. Not to mention the hundreds of other mammals, birds, and plant species in the surrounding areas.
Apart from abundant wildlife, visitors can also participate in adventure activities like mountain biking, hiking, and a variety of watersports. When indulging in the varied and traditional cuisine, the gentle and affectionate demeanor of the local people adds to the allure of the country. Getting to Malawi is easy enough through airports situated in and near major cities like Lilongwe, the capital, and Blantyre. Additionally, there are car rental companies on site. Chartered services are available for getting to and from destinations and are a bit further out.
When packing for a trip, visitors should ensure they pack a bit of everything. The array of activities and experiences on offer range from the bush to the beach and everything in between. Lake Malawi offers the best of both worlds with a scenic landscape, where various wildlife species roam as well as crisp, clean beaches along the water’s edge. Days can either be spent just soaking in the tranquil surroundings, while visitors take in the impressive setting aboard the Ilala ferry. For the more adventurous, there is a myriad of sporting activities including kayaking, waterskiing, and scuba diving.
The eight other national parks and reserves scattered throughout the country. which include Kasungu, Lengwe, Liwonde, Nyika, Majete, Mwabvi, Nkhotakota, Vwaza, provide ample opportunity for remarkable game viewing, mountain biking, and hiking. There are various cultural and historical sites worth a visit. The Livingstonia Mission tells the story of the great explorer, Dr David Livingstone, while The Society of Malawi, in Blantyre, paints a complete picture of the country’s rich history. The Stone Age Chongoni Rock Art site, close to Dedza, is another worthwhile stop.
Safari-goers to Africa need to make sure about visa requirements for the specific destination in their country of origin. Passports need to be valid for at least six months from the planned date of departure and there should also be enough blank pages for the necessary visas and stamps to be applied.
The World Health Organisation recommends the following vaccinations for Malawi: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza. It is recommended that visitors check with a reputable travel clinic before departure as requirements may change.
It is advisable to make getting travel insurance as part of the planning of any safari. That ensures travellers are covered for unforeseen circumstances leading to the cancellation of the trip, as well as medical cover and repatriation should anything happen while on safari. If adventurous activities, such as hiking, mountain climbing, gorilla trekking, hot air ballooning or white water rafting, are part of the safari, comprehensive travel insurance is a must.
An International Driving Permit allows foreigners to drive in Malawi and must at all times be carried with the visitor’s national drivers license. Driving is on the left side of the road. The maximum speed limit is 80 km/hour with a speed limit of 120 km/h on the highway.