“The warm heart of Africa” obtained from the friendly people. Malawi will offer you the fabulous mountain walking opportunities, together with lack of lions in lowlands reserve, make the ideal Nature walk destination, allowing the visitor to enjoy Africa’s wildlife on foot. With this experience, you will discover many treats that are not easily encountered elsewhere. Amongst these are the Malawi’s rare antelopes – the Sable antelope, Roan and Nyala, the Unique aquarium of brilliant colored tropical fish that is Lake Malawi, and the flower filled uplands and montane forests that are home to some of Africa’s rarest birds.
British nationals don’t need a visa for a short visit to Malawi. However, the Malawian government has announced that it intends to introduce a visa regime for British visitors (and nationals of other countries that charge a visa fee for Malawian nationals) from 1 October 2015. Contact the Malawian High Commission in London for more information.
At present you can get a visitor’s permit or business visit permit on arrival, which will allow you to stay in Malawi for a short period for tourism, visiting relatives or business. The permit is valid for 30 days and can be extended for a further 60 days for a fee. For more information visit the Department of Immigration.
Your passport should be valid for minimum period of 6 months on arrival in Malawi.
The Malawian authorities have confirmed they will accept British passports extended by 12 months by British Embassies and Consulates under additional measures put in place in mid-2014.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit, and exit from Malawi. ETDs must be valid for 6 months for entry into Malawi if the holder is not a returning resident.
Yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Travelling with children via a South African airport
If you’re transiting through a South African airport with children (under 18), see our South Africa travel advice page for information and advice about the documents you’ll need to carry.
Contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.
Outbreaks of gastric intestinal infections and cholera are also common, especially during the rainy season (December to March). Tap water may not be safe to drink, especially in rural areas.
The UNAIDS 2013 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic estimated that around 950,000 adults aged 15 or over in Malawi were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 10.8% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.25%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 997, 998 or 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Local laws and customs
Drug taking and smuggling are offences. This includes cannabis. Punishment can be severe.
Buying uncut precious stones is illegal.
Outside the main tourist areas, women should cover legs and shoulders to avoid offending local sensitivities.
Homosexual acts are illegal.
Carry a photocopy of your passport and visa at all times.
Most visits to Malawi are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself from muggers and bag-snatchers. Most thefts from visitors take place around the main bus stations in Lilongwe and Blantyre, and at the main ports for the Ilala ferry. Avoid walking around quiet areas, especially after dark. Leave valuables and cash in a hotel safe, where practical. Keep copies of important documents in a separate place Report any thefts to the police as soon as possible.
There have been several outbreaks of violence in market areas involving protestors throwing rocks and the police responding with tear gas. Take extra care in market areas.
Lock car doors and keep windows closed. Armed carjacking is a risk, especially for drivers of four-by-four vehicles. Don’t offer lifts to strangers and look out for obstructions in the road ahead.
Be cautious if over-friendly people approach you offering to act as guides or selling goods, or who claim to know you and ask for a lift. Don’t accept food or drink from strangers; people have been robbed after eating drugged food.
House burglaries, including by armed gangs, do occur though crime rates are low by regional standards. There has been an increase in break-ins in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Limbe, including violent assaults on residents. Review your security systems and watch out for anything unusual.
Seek security advice from the Mulanje Mountain Club if you intend to climb Mulanje Mountain.
Driving in Malawi can be hazardous. Always wear a seatbelt and avoid travel after dark. Potholes, animals, abandoned vehicles and cyclists can cause serious accidents, as can vehicles travelling at night without lights.
Malawi has a very high rate of fatalities on the road. Travel between towns by public minibus or pick-up truck isn’t recommended; vehicles are often in poor condition and overloaded. Emergency services are basic. Larger coach services do run between the major towns and are more reliable.
The Malawi Police Service has introduced Breathalyzer tests, and regularly stops vehicles for speeding. There are speed cameras on the main roads. Drivers caught drink driving or speeding can have their licenses and vehicles confiscated on the spot. Convicted drivers face a fine and/or imprisonment. The blood alcohol limit is 0.08g per 100ml of blood (the same as in England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
When driving in Malawi you should carry a valid driving license at all times; you may need to produce it at police check points. You can drive using a UK driving license for up to 90 days or an International Driving Permit for up to one year. Slowdown in all built-up areas. Traffic police often place speed cameras where there are no signs showing the speed limit. The police can impose on the spot fines.
Spontaneous demonstrations related to governance and economic issues can occur. You should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations, and should monitor local media.