This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Skip to main content

Talk to an expert 1-800-242-2434 Lines open now

User menu
Advice for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Travellers in Malawi

Advice for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Travellers in Malawi

LGBT travel in Malawi

We are occasionally asked "Is Malawi gay-friendly?", and here we'll cover what we know.

We've been organising trips to Malawi for our travellers since about 1998 and in that time we’ve booked many trips to sub-Saharan Africa for gay travellers. We have never heard of any issues experienced by our travellers due to their sexuality.

In more general terms there remain some laws in Malawi against homosexuality, although these are rarely enforced and we aren’t aware of them ever having been applied to tourists on holiday in Malawi.

As a visitor, your sexual preferences and gender identity are, of course, your private business. If you don’t identify as a heterosexual person, that should not be of any interest to anybody. It is only if your behaviour is deemed unacceptable that you might face reproach, which could also apply to heterosexual couples behaving inappropriately.

The legal background for LGBT travellers in Malawi


The official government view on homosexuality is ambiguous. There are still laws in force – dating back many years – against same-sex sexual activity (male and female), however this seems to be changing. In July 2014 the Malawi Government announced a moratorium on its LGBT laws and the police have been instructed not to arrest anyone for homosexual behaviour.

In September 2015 the President of Malawi, Peter Mutharika, reportedly stated that Malawians will be able to decide, through a referendum, on whether to legalise same-sex relationships. However, as far as we are aware, this referendum has yet to take place.

So things seem to be changing; however travellers still need to be mindful of local customs and behaviour.

LGBT travellers in Malawi


As witnessed in many other African countries, many Malawians consider non-heterosexual behaviour (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) as taboo. All over the world, people in traditional, rural communities tend to have more conservative attitudes than the residents of more cosmopolitan cities. The people of Malawi are no exception to this.

In most areas of Malawi, public displays of affection or overtly sexual behaviour between any couples, whether heterosexual or LGBT, are generally frowned upon – as would any clear indication of an LGBT relationship. So we advise all our travellers, gay or straight, to avoid overt displays of affection or sexual behaviour, as these could offend people.

There’s one local practice of traditional life which we should mention here, so visitors aren’t misled. In many areas it’s perfectly acceptable for same-sex friends to wander around hand-in-hand, without a second thought. However, such behaviour has no sexual or relationship connotations: it’s just a sign of friendship.

When visiting Malawi it is important to realise that a large part of the population still live in rural area and tend to take a traditional view on this subject.

In Malawi’s larger towns and cities, you'll still find strands of this conservative thinking, but many people are also becoming increasingly tolerant, with more liberal views – and in cities like Lilongwe and Blantyre, you may well see openly gay people getting on with their lives.

In the tourism industry, and especially in Malawi’s more remote camps, lodges and hotels, staff have been dealing with a wide variety of guests, all with different backgrounds, for years. It's notable that rooms are almost universally configured with double or single beds, as requested, without any fuss.

It is almost unheard of to learn of a staff member who isn't tolerant and relaxed in their outlook, even if some may have personal views that are relatively conservative.

So, in conclusion, we'd advise all our travellers, gay or straight, to avoid overt displays of affection or sexual behaviour, as these could offend people. Other than that, a 'don't ask, don't tell' approach is a good passport to a trouble-free trip to Malawi for our LGBT travellers. But do feel free to call us to discuss any concerns if you’re thinking of travelling with us to Malawi.

Sources of advice and information for LGBT Travellers to Malawi are


  • The UK foreign & Commonwealth office (FCO) provides general LGBT foreign travel advice for all countries.
  • The FCO also has a useful, if brief, page on Malawi’s local laws and customs.
  • Human Dignity Trust - is a legal charity that supports those who want to challenge anti-gay laws around the world.
  • The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) provides information on the laws of countries worldwide, focused around a series of summary maps.

Our top picks for holidays to Malawi

We'll always tailor-make your Town for you. Here are some of our favourites to inspire you.


Itinerary image

Utaka Cichlid Safari

10 days • 3 locations
BLANTYRE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

Explore two of Malawi's safari parks - Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park - before finishing your trip with some beach time relaxing, snorkelling and sailing in Lake Malawi National Park.

US$3,730 - US$4,240 per person

Itinerary image

Red Zebra Cichlid Safari

7 days • 2 locations
BLANTYRE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

Explore two of Malawi's highlights with a safari in rugged, remote Majete Wildlife Reserve before some beach time relaxing, snorkelling and sailing in Lake Malawi National Park.

US$3,350 - US$4,200 per person

Itinerary image

Orange Cap Cichlid Safari

7 days • 2 locations
LILONGWE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

Combine a safari in the lush and resurgent Liwonde National Park with down time at an island eco-retreat in the middle of Lake Malawi. A great way to explore Malawi.

US$3,860 - US$4,360 per person

Itinerary image

Hyena Safari

11 days • 4 locations
VICTORIA FALLS AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

Mix relaxation and adventure on a safari combining the South Luangwa with Victoria Falls and the beaches of Lake Malawi. These three locations are among the most iconic in southern Africa.

US$6,580 - US$8,420 per person

Itinerary image

Peacock Cichlid Safari

4 days • 1 locations
LILONGWE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

Snorkel in Lake Malawi’s famously clear freshwater, relax on the beach and explore Likoma Island from the award-winning Kaya Mawa. A chilled luxury add-on to end your safari.

US$1,940 - US$2,520 per person

Itinerary image

Blue Neon Cichlid Safari

4 days • 1 locations
LILONGWE AIRPORT TO LILONGWE AIRPORT

Four nights at a charming eco-camp on Mumbo Island in Lake Malawi National Park surrounded by some of the world’s best freshwater snorkelling. A great value end to your safari.

US$2,010 - US$2,150 per person

View all holidays in Malawi

Inspire me

Need inspiration?

Let our trip chooser narrow down the options for you

Inspire me

Login to Expert Africa

Sign in with password

Sign in with email link


New to Expert Africa? Create an account

Forgotten your details?

It's free & quick to set up

  • Order a brochure
  • Save your wish-list
  • Send us an enquiry
  • Pay online for your trip
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Give us feedback on your trip
  • Full site benefits of the site

Need some help? Talk to our team