Malawi information

Malawi general information

How's the food in Malawi? Do I need a visa for Malawi? What's Malawi's currency? These and other important travel questions occur, when going on a holiday to Malawi for the first time; below we've answered the most frequently asked questions.

Time in Malawi

Malawi is two hours in the advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2). As Malawi doesn't operate daylight saving time, there's no time difference between the winter and summer months.

Currency in Malawi

Malawi's currency is the Malawian kwacha (MWK). At time of writing (Aug 09) £1 = MKw238.83, although camps often charge in US$ (US$1 = MKw144.88). You can also check with www.oando.com for the latest exchange rates. Most lodges accept travellers' cheques; some also take credit cards.

Malawi's International Dialling Code

Malawi's International Dialling Code is 00265. Calling from Malawi, you dial the relevant country code (e.g. 001 for North America, 0044 for Great Britain), followed by the area code and local number. At the time of writing (Aug 09), calls from Malawi to UK landlines with Malawi Telecommunications Limited cost between MKw0.80 and MKw2.00 per minute, depending on the time of day (USA: between MKw0.80 and Mkw1.20 per minute).

Food in Malawi

The standard of food in Malawi's lodges and restaurants is generally good, as is the local beer. Imported South African beers and wine are excellent.

Local specialities include chambo (Tilapia fish, fresh from Lake Malawi), Nthochi (banana bread) and Mbatata (cookies made from sweet potato and cinnamon). White maize – served with vegetables, fish or meat – is a staple; poultry and dairy products, as well as tropical fruits are plentiful and often used.

Health in Malawi

Several vaccines are sensible for Malawi: typhoid, polio, tetanus and possibly yellow fever. Malaria is common, so you should make sure you take anti-malarials. Bilharzia is prevalent in some areas of the lake, and you should be aware of the risks that this can pose before you travel. Always check the latest recommendations with your GP or travel clinic; the Scottish NHS also provides useful travel information on Malawi.

HIV infection rates are high; AIDS is widespread in Malawi. This isn't generally an issue for travellers, but they should be aware of the health situation, and take the same sensible safety measures to avoid infection which are wise in most countries. We understand that blood supplies used by Malawi's private hospitals have been carefully screened for numerous years.

Language in Malawi

In Malawi, English is one of the official languages, and spoken by most people; Malawi's second official language is Chicewa.

Visas for Malawi

Travellers with British or US passports do not currently (Aug 09) need a visa, although a visa is needed when staying at Nkwichi Lodge, on Lake Malawi's shoreline in Mozambique. Always check the latest regulations with your nearest Malawian Embassy or High Commission before travelling.

Weather and climate in Malawi

Malawi's weather pattern is similar to the climate in Zambia – a mix of wet and dry seasons. Read more about the weather and climate in Malawi here…