Malawi :: Malawi
Category: Places :: Country
TOP ATTRACTION: Majete Wildlife Reserve
TOP ATTRACTION: Diving at Nkhata Bay
TOP ATTRACTION: Chongoni Rock Art
TOP ATTRACTION: Hastings Kamuzu Banda Mausoleum
TOP ATTRACTION: Cape Maclear boat trips and snorkelling
TOP ATTRACTION: Karonga Museum (Malawisaurus)
TOP ATTRACTION: Kasungu National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Kawalazi Tea Plantation
TOP ATTRACTION: Kuti Wildlife Reserve
TOP ATTRACTION: Lake Malawi Museum
TOP ATTRACTION: Livingstonia
TOP ATTRACTION: Liwonde National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Manchewe Falls
TOP ATTRACTION: Kazichi River Cave
TOP ATTRACTION: Mua Mission Station
TOP ATTRACTION: Nkhotakota Pottery
TOP ATTRACTION: Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
TOP ATTRACTION: Nyika National Park (Malawi)
TOP ATTRACTION: Vwaza Wildlife Reserve
TOP ATTRACTION: Zomba Mountain Plateau
This small landlocked country is most famous for the lake of the same name, the southernmost lake in the East African Rift system. However, Malawi is a diverse country and offers much in terms of natural beauty and geographical features such as Mount Mulanje and the Zomba Plateau.
While Malawi is not renowned for its game, things are improving since African Parks took over management of the protected areas. They’re hard at work empowering local communities, training rangers, preventing illegal fishing and removing snares.
Liwonde National Park has good wildlife with a healthy elephant population as well as some black rhino. With its beautiful setting on the Shire River, with grunting hippos and prolific bird life, this park feels like the most African of Malawi’s national parks.
For many overlanders Nyika National Park is an absolute favourite. This park, situated on a high plateau of Afro-montane grassland, puts one in mind of the Scottish highlands and can be very cold in winter. Instead of red deer, here you’ll find herds of eland, zebra, reedbuck and beautiful roan antelope. Nyika is also home to various special montane birds and is said to have leopard.
The rugged, hilly terrain of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve is bisected by a network of rivers that weave their way through dense miombo forests. Although it is Malawi’s oldest park and one of the country’s largest conservation areas, it’s underdeveloped. Since African Parks took over management, more than 500 elephants and over a thousand other game species have been introduced here, from Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve. This historic translocation initiative aims to restore Nkhotakota so that it may become one of Malawi’s most important sanctuaries for wildlife.
Malawi is a poor country but in spite of its economic constraints, you’ll find Malawians to be genuine, honest and friendly. This country is justifiably known as the ‘warm heart of Africa’. Tourist facilities are good (though not always up to first world standards) and the country is easy to travel.
Some Malawians eat mice, rats and flies. You will see people selling fried mice strung into a long stick or a single rat cut open and fried on a stick along the road. You will often see big clouds of smoke hanging over Lake Malawi. These are in actual fact millions of little flies. When these swarms of flies (they are slightly bigger than mosquitoes) are carried to land by the wind, the people catch them in nets and make cakes which they dry to eat.
DRIVING IN MALAWI:
Drive on the left-hand side of the road and adhere to British driving rules. The national roads in Malawi are generally well maintained and in good condition, although you will encounter some potholes. Driving is slow as the tarred roads are narrow and the distances between villages short. The secondary roads are mostly unpaved and can be quite corrugated, potholed and sandy and therefore also slow-going.
There’s very little traffic on the roads as most people walk or cycle since fuel is very expensive in Malawi. Bicycles are by far the most popular mode of transport in Malawi; they are even used to taxi people and animals around. Although cyclists will generally give way to vehicles on the road, these bikes often carry excessive loads and are therefore rather unstable. Stay well clear of them when overtaking as they could easily swerve into the road unexpectedly.
The general speed limit on major roads is 80 km/h and 50 km/h in urban areas. On a few of the major roads where the limit is 120 km/h, this is clearly indicated. Speed traps with radar guns are common on Malawian roads. Be very observant of speed signs and slow down immediately as the police may set up speed traps just after such signs.
Legally, you are required to have two red warning triangles in your vehicle, and all occupants must wear seatbelts. Although it’s not compulsory, you are advised to take a reflective vest along in case you need to do roadside repairs. It is illegal to speak on a cell phone without a hands-free device.
Police road blocks are common and officers may do spot checks on driver’s licences, car and insurance certificates, warning triangles, etc. Always carry cash with you in order to pay fines on the spot otherwise your license may be confiscated. Insist on an official receipt.
Night driving is not recommended because of the number of animals and people on the roads. At uncontrolled intersections, give way to traffic approaching from the right. When traffic lights are out of order, traffic in the main road has right of way.
Although fuel is generally available everywhere, there can be fuel shortages from time to time. Low sulphur diesel (50ppm) is not readily available in Malawi.
19.1 million. (2021).
GMT+2 Central Africa Time.
Citizens of the following countries do not require visas: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, China, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Ireland, Samoa (Western), Seychelles, South Africa, St. Kitts Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
All other nationalities have to apply online for eVisas at: www.evisa.gov.mw or www.ivisa.com/malawi-blog/malawi-visa-requirements.
On the southern end of Lake Malawi you’ll find Monkey Bay. This is a tourist hub and especially popular amongst backpackers. Most overlanders prefer Cape Maclear and the nearby Thumbi, Mumbo and Domwe islands where you can snorkel in crystal clear water. A bit further north Senga Bay is also a good stop. About halfway up the lake, Makuzi Beach Lodge near Chinteche is idyllic with excellent lodging and camping facilities. Nkhata Bay, a bit further north, is also very popular.
You will find the best fresh fruit and vegetables at the street vendors. Malawians are farmers, therefore the local fresh markets are a feast of colours and variety of whatever is in season.
The ‘Peoples’ stores bake fresh bread a few times a day and most of the bigger villages have Peoples stores. Even if you’re not a big bread eater you will love this hot bread fresh from the oven!
“Riaan Marais commented on the T4A Forum: We’re having a big problem with dirty (mixed with anything from water to kerosene) fuel in Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania. The small in-between petrol stations are usually the culprits. We had a dead vehicle in the convoys yesterday because of dirty fuel. Personally, I will only fill up at BP, Total, Engen, Gapco, Oilcom. (28/02/2012)” - Karin Theron, 2012/02/29
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