Malawi is a small landlocked country in Africa, formerly known as Nyasaland. It falls into Southern Africa, although sometimes classes Southeastern Africa. A spectacularly scenic and unspoiled country, with diverse landscapes offering a variety of experiences: from a big five safari to exploring forest reserves, hiking Mt. Mulanje, visiting tea estates and of course, enjoying the lake!
Malawi means ‘fire/flames’
Africa’s newest big 5 destination
Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania
Capital City: Lilongwe
National Parks: 5
Wildlife Reserves: 4
Key Attraction: Lake Malawi
Independence: 6th July 1964
Area: 118,480 km² / 46,000 miles²
(half the size of the UK)
Currency: Malawi Kwacha
Population: over 18 million
Official Language: English
Widely Spoken: Chichewa
Top Exports: Tobacco and Tea
National Bird: African Fish Eagle
Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe is the closest airport to Blue Zebra Island Lodge: 1.5 to 2 hours drive. Work on 3 hours from your landing time to boat transfer time, allowing additional time to clear customs and stop for snacks along the way. Try to book an early arrival to ensure you can get to Blue Zebra on the same day as we do not operate boat transfers after dark. Find out more about airlines to use and the best routes for road travel.
A visa is required for most nationalities to enter Malawi, but many African countries, a few international countries and some Diplomats are exempt (view countries visa exempted). Ensure that you have taken the necessary steps to obtain a visa for Malawi and transit countries is required. You must have a valid passport which does not expire within 6 months of your departure date from Malawi, with at least 2 blank pages.
You can apply online (3 days processing time), or most nationalities can get a visa upon arrival. For the latter, ensure you have US$ cash to pay at the airport and we recommend filling in the application form beforehand. Request a supporting letter from us confirming your reservation (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Visa fees: Transit Visa US$50 (valid for 7 days) / Single entry US$75 (valid for 3 months, but must be extended for the additional 60 days at additional cost) / Multiple entry 6 months US$150 / Multiple entry 12 months US$250.
There are ATMs, Banks/Bureaux de Change at the airport to obtain local currency. Major currencies are accepted at exchange desks (including US$, Euro, GBP, ZAR). US$ is widely accepted in Malawi but should generally be no smaller that $5 and of 2009+ series. Cards can be used at most lodges but you will need cash for your arrival visa; shopping at local markets/curios stores; visiting other remote locations.
You must have comprehensive travel insurance with adequate cover for cancellation (unexpected illness/injury/hospitalization, flight delays, weather conditions etc), curtailment and all medical expenses with emergency air evacuation. Check that you are covered for boat transfers and all activities offered at Blue Zebra Island Lodge including motorized water sports.
We recommend contacting your doctor or a travel clinic regarding the most up to date medical advice for traveling to Malawi from your country.
Vaccinations: Yellow fever certificates are only required if you have traveled from or through a yellow fever zone. If you are doing a Zambia/Malawi combo safari, you will need yellow fever immunization. It is recommended that you are up to date with your routine vaccines (Polio, Typhoid, Tetanus, Hepatitis A) and that you seek further medical advice for updated requirements.
Malaria: Malawi is a Malaria area. We recommend that you contact your doctor about the most suitable Malaria prophylaxis for you.
Bilharzia (Schistosomiasis): while there is a chance of contracting Bilharzia in areas of Lake Malawi, tests have been done around the Marelli Islands which have indicated the area to be Bilharzia free, although this cannot be guaranteed. Praziquantel is a medication widely used and easily accessible in Malawi for preventative measures.
Subtropical, with a 7-8 month dry season and 4-5 month rainy season. Typically characterized as:
Hot and rainy: mid-November to April (with the peak rainy season being January -March)
Cool and dry: mid-May to mid-August (cool nights, warm days – occasional strong winds)
Hot and dry: mid-August to mid-November (the hottest/humid months are October and November)
Malawi is considered a year-round destination. There’s never a bad time to visit, but there will be ‘better’ times depending on your interests and personal preferences. The climate will vary throughout Malawi. Many prefer to visit in the dry season, but November to April is usually best for birdwatching. We can assist you with the best time for you to visit.