Malawi is a landlocked country located in southeast Africa, sharing its borders with Mozambique to the south and east, Tanzania to the north, and Zambia to the west. The greatest asset of Malawi is its people and it is often called “Warm Heart of Africa”, referring to the warmth and friendliness of its people. They are knows as very welcoming, colorful and energetic and for many, it is the highlight of visiting this country – interacting with Malawi people.
But don’t be fooled, people aren’t the only ones that make Malawi worth visiting: you can expect a geographically diverse country, probably with the most varied landscape in all of Africa. You can now spend days with the warm people of Malawi in real African villages, with a chance to spend the night there, this way truly experiencing the colorful culture and traditions of this country. And the best part – that option awaits for you pretty much anywhere in Malawi. Apart from that, you can experience hiking the highest peaks in Malawi that reach around 3,000m in height, while the lowest point of the country is barely above sea level. Malawi truly is magically diverse like no other country in Africa.
Warnings & Dangers in Malawi
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Malawi is, for the most part, a safe country to visit. However it does have a high crime rate, though it's mainly ridden with petty street crime. You should be vigilant and take all possible precaution measures in order to minimize the risk of getting stolen from.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Exercise extreme caution when driving and avoid night driving altogether. Many cars have broken headlights and you can't see them and you can also hit someone since Malawians tend to walk in the middle of the road at night. Roads are generally more dangerous since there are many unlicensed drivers and the cars that are not in a driving condition.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
There is an extreme threat of petty crime. Pickpockets are an everyday occurrence, so you should be extremely careful when handling your valuables and never carry your money in a purse or a pocket. Never carry all your money in the same place, and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
As for natural disasters, the biggest threat for Malawi are the regular floods that hit this country regularly, often killing people along the way and causing substantial damage.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Violent crime is common in Malawi so be extremely careful on the streets. Just avoid moving around Malawi after dark which applies to most countries in Africa.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There haven't been any recent terrorist attacks in Malawi's recent history, but they shouldn't be ruled out. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
As in any other tourist destination, there is the risk of getting scammed. Always check your change twice, negotiate the price of every service beforehand, and ask around about the real prices of services and other goods.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Malawi isn't the safest place for a woman to be visiting alone. If you do, be sure to avoid remote streets, both during day and night, and do not flash your belongings or handle money in public. Stay out of the streets at night and be vigilant for any possible dangers at all times.
So... How Safe Is Malawi Really?
Malawi is relatively safe to visit, though violent crime is not exactly unheard of. Muggings and robberies happen in larger cities, usually in Lilongwe, and in areas frequented by tourists. You should just avoid walking alone at night altogether. Car jacking is also a common occurrence and lately there has been an increase in pickpockets operating in nightclubs and burs. Never bring too much money with you, or cameras, electronics and flashy valuables.
Keep in mind that you are advised to exercise extreme caution when driving – for example, night driving is not advised at all, since most cars have broken headlights and you can’t see them and Malawians tend to walk in the middle of the road at night. Roads are generally more dangerous since there are many unlicensed drivers and the cars have, in most cases, not been inspected and are not in a driving condition.
Be cautious with your health: as in Malawi’s neighboring countries, malaria can be a problem. Malawi Lake is freshwater and is prone to bilharzia, especially in the Cape Maclear area. The symptoms of this disease can take months to appear and there aren’t any treatments or tests that can help until around two months after being exposed.
- Visas - Many countries need a visa in order to enter Malawi as a visitor. If you can’t get one before travel which is highly recommended, you can get a visa on arrival at any port of entry. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months past the date of your arrival to Malawi. If you are not sure about your visa status, it is best to visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need a visa.
- Currency - Malawian kwacha is the official currency in Malawi. ATMs are widespread throughout the country and credit cards accepted in most establishments.
- Weather - Malawi has a sub-tropical climate, characterized by relatively dry and strongly seasonal weather. The warm and wet season lasts from November to April, and during this period 95% of the yearly rainfall takes place.
- Airports - Kamuzu International Airport is an international airport serving Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. It is often referred to as Lilongwe International Airport.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Malawi, since it covers not only the costs medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.