Jambo Africa has the best Malawi has to offer:- from the magnificent expanse of Lake Malawi, which runs along the entire eastern border, to the high plateaus and majestic Mount Mulanje and the beauty of its many national parks. Malawi is a land of exciting contrasts. Lake Malawi lies in the southern portion on the Great Rift Valley. Once described by David Livingstone as the “Lake of Stars”, Lake Malawi, is the third largest lake in Africa. In sharp contrast to the lakeshore are the towering heights of the Mulanje Massif, the highest mountain in central Africa, the densely forested Zomba Plateau and the rolling hills of Nyika Plateau in the north. In the Southern region you can visit Liwonde National Park where the Shire River flows on its way to the Zambezi River. For the more adventurous discover the southern game parks, located in the beautiful Lower Shire Valley, Lengwe National Park, Majete Game Reserve, Mwabve Wildlife Reserve and the small wildlife sanctuary, Nyala Park. A boat trip following Dr. David Livingstone's footsteps on the Shire River and into the Elephant Marsh will be topped by nothing else, with exciting bird life, many crocodiles and the occasional hippo. Whilst visiting southern Malawi explore the lake at Cape Maclear and all its wonders. Don't forget to visit Mount Mulanje! Also in the south are the sugar and tea estates, which make a fascinating visit. On culture Jambo Africa supports the preservation of local culture and heritage in the Lower Shire Valley by organizing cultural evenings in the village of Ndakwera. On these evenings a group of at least four clients can visit the village and see how people live, how some of the traditional meals are prepared, rituals are preformed and even enjoy such a meal while watching traditional masked dances. Jambo Africa is also involved in the building of Tisunge! Lower Shire Heritage Centre at the entrance of Lengwe National Park. In the Central region you will find some of the more beautiful lake shores like Nkhotakota and Nkhata Bay including the possibility of taking a ferry across to Likoma Island. The island started out as an Anglican mission, but now its isolation and mellow atmosphere are the main attraction for travelers. With the Ntchisi Forest Reserve, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and Kasungu National Park, the Central region also has a lot to offer for nature lovers.
The Northern region offers the diversity of Malawi's highlands, the hills, valleys and rocky peaks of Viphya Plateau and the unique Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve. Experience the breathtaking Nyika Plateau. Relax on pristine beaches and swim in the crystal clear waters of Chintheche. Jambo Africa is the official booking agent for The Beach House situated at Chintheche.
Once you have visited Malawi, a part of you will never leave. Contact us today for our packaged and especially tailor made tours to suit our clients’ requirements.
Know About Malawi
Malawi - an African Romance - One of the smallest countries in Africa, Malawi is the epitome of a vast continent, the very essence of Africa. The least exploited of African tourist destinations, Malawi is rapidly being "discovered". It has all the traditional prized features, such as sun-drenched beaches and sparkling palm-fringed water, as well as scuba diving, rock climbing, mountain biking and other adventures for the young at heart. Its exceptional scenery lends itself to road travel, for the main roadwork is in excellent condition. This provides the best of all opportunities to experience the real warmth of Malawi, its wonderful people. You are bound to leave a part of your own heart in the Warm Heart of Africa.
Constitutions & Administration
The rights based Constitution of 1995 established the supremacy of the Constitution and the separation of power between the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary. The country is administered by government ministries in Capital Hill, Lilongwe and district assemblies.
Malawi is a long, narrow country situated in the African Rift between latitudes 9 and 18 degrees south. It is bordered by Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. Elevations vary from 30 meters at Nsanje to 3,000 meters at Sapitwa, the peak of Mount Mulanje. Most of the settled towns lie on the Central African Plateau at altitudes between 1,000 and 1,500 meters. Lake Malawi, the third largest in Africa, is 470 meters above sea level. The Lake takes up one fifth of Malawi’s land mass of 118,000 square kilometres. Malawi’s topography displays diversity unusual in such a small African country. The ever-changing scenery, natural vegetation is a mix of miombo woodland, savannah and rain forest. Because of the high population density much of the forests cover has been lost. Prime stands are to be found only in heavily protected areas.
The country, formerly known as Nyasaland (meaning Lakeland), is the result of colonial activity in Africa. The boundaries are artificial, cutting through areas without regard to tribal boundaries. Some borders follow natural features while others resulted from trade-offs between the competing colonial powers of Britain, Germany and Portugal. The area came under British influence as a result of the pioneering activities in the mid to late 19th century of David Livingstone and the Scottish missionaries. At the time of their arrival the country was in a state of flux, as the Yao people from the Arab slavers and traders of the East African coast, and the warlike Ngoni from the south moved in. They gained ascendancy over many of the original inhabitants. The British administration brought peace and settled government. The influence of the Arabs came to an end with the execution of Mlozi in 1896 in Karonga. In the late 1950’s, “Winds of Change” blew through Africa. In 1961, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda became Prime Minister. Malawi attained self governance on 6th July 1964. In 1966 the country became a republic. Then followed thirty years of dictatorial rule, ending in 1994 with the 1st multi-party democracy, a vibrant media and vociferous non-government (NGO’s) and religious organisations.
Preliminary results of the 2008 census indicates a population of 13.1 million, the majority of whom belong to tribal groupings such as Chewa, Nyanja, Yao, Tumbuka, Lomwe, Ngoni, Tonga, Sena, Ngonde, Lambya. 83% are engaged in agriculture. The urban population is growing rapidly. There are insignificant numbers of Asians and Europeans, although members of the Asian groups are disproportionately represented in commerce and industry. Most Malawian’s profess monotheistic faith. Of the religions mainstream Christianity is the largest in numbers with Islam a significant second. Other minority religions are also practised. Many aspects of traditional beliefs co-exist with the introduced religions and are not seen by their adherents to be in conflict.
The official language of Malawi is English. It is widely spoken but not universally so. There are numerous languages which, generally, take their names from the tribes which speak them. The mostly widely understood and spoken of these is Chichewa. The main Chichewa-speaking regions are the Centre and much of the South. The North is linguistically very diverse with Chitumbuka as the dominant language. Other tribal languages are widely spoken with Chiyao spoken by a large minority in the south of the country.
Malawi has a sub-tropical climate, which is relatively dry and strongly seasonal. The warm wet season stretches from November to April, during which 95% of the annual precipitation takes place. Annual average rainfall varies from 725mm to 2,500mm with Lilongwe having an average of 900mm, Blantyre 1,127mm, Mzuzu 1,289 and Zomba 1,433mm. Extreme conditions include the drought that occurred in 1991/92 season and floods of 1988/89 season. The low-lying areas such as the Lower Shire Valley and some localities in Salima and Karonga are more vulnerable to floods than higher grounds.
A cool, dry winter season is evident from May to August with mean temperatures varying between 17°C and 27°C, with temperatures falling between 4°C and 10°C. In addition, frost may occur in isolated areas in June and July. A hot, dry season lasts from September to October with average temperatures varying between 25°C and 37°C. Humidity ranges from 50% to 87% for the dryer months of September/October and wetter months of January/February respectively. Light-skinned people should exercise sensible precautions against sunburn and dehydration.
Crime & Safety
The incident of crimes against the person or theft of property is low although most homes in the more affluent areas and virtually all businesses employ security guards. Normal precautions against crime should be taken. There are numerous security companies in the country. The Police operate a 990 rapid response services in the Cities.
The legal system, civil and criminal, generally follows British law and practice as modified by case law in Malawi and other countries with similar system. There are numerous statutes. Criminal Law is codified as is Criminal Procedure. The 1995 Constitution of Malawi with subsequent amendments is the supreme law of the land. No law, person, personage or institution is above law. Laws are made by Parliament, approved by the President and overseen by the courts
The only fixed-line telephone service is provided by the formerly state-owned Malawi Telecommunication Company Ltd (MTL). Now privatised, it is making efforts to improve its standards of service and reliability and to increase its subscriber base which has been surpassed by the mobile operations. In some areas it has suffered break-downs due to cable theft. Fixed line call charges are considerably cheaper than mobile calls. MTL offers a CDMA (wireless) service which it terms ‘Liberty Phone’ charged at the same rate as its regular service.
Access is a new fixed /mobile network provider and has been operational for a few years and is making great strides in increasing its coverage.
GSM (mobile) services are provided by two operators Airtel (formerly Zain) and TNM. Both providers provide prepaid and postpaid facilities. SIM cards and airtime can be obtained almost anywhere in the country.
There are a number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). ‘Broadband’ is offered but not yet at the speeds available in most developed countries. Wireless hotspots are available at airports, business centres and in some hotels and tourist resorts. Internet cafes are to be found in most business areas. The broadband providers are Skyband, Globe Internet, Malawi Net, Broadband Digital Solutions, Softnet Broadband (V-SAT) and Tonse Solutions.
Is provided in Blantyre and Lilongwe by state-owned eponymous water boards, Blantyre suffers from frequent localised water outages. Blantyre, which draws its water from the Shire River, experiences problems at the pumps due to heavy silt loads during the rainy season. Lilongwe, being a fairly new city with modern facilities, does not suffer these problems to the same degree. In other cities and urban centres water is provided by the state-owned regional water boards.
The electrical supply is 220-230 volts single phase or 380-400 volts 3-phase. Plugs for appliances are the square 3-pin British pattern. The sole national supplier is the state-owned Electricity supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM). Virtually all of the electricity is generated at a number of hydro-electrical sites on the Shire River. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MAP
Forex & Currency (FOREX)
Currency, Banking & Exchange Control
The currency of Malawi is the Kwacha which is divided into 100 Tambala units. The Reserve Bank of Malawi manages foreign exchange reserves. Exchange control is enforced. Most foreign exchange transactions are carried out by commercial banks acting as agents of the Reserve Bank. Commercial Banks, forex bureaux and main hotels are authorised to transact certain foreign exchange transactions without prior reference to the Reserve Bank. The US Dollar, Pound sterling and South African Rand are well known to most Malawians. Other foreign currencies are exchangeable at banks and bureaus.
Any amount of foreign currency may be imported without prior approval. However, there are money laundering laws in force and very large amounts of cash will cause suspicion, the unwelcome attention of the authorities and inconvenience to the importer. Those who bring foreign currency into Malawi and wish to re-export it at some stage, whether for personal or business purposes, should be sure to have proof of importation given by Customs on entry or repurchase from authorised dealers – or risk seizure at time of export. Movements of foreign currency for commerce or investment should be transacted through commercial banks.
Credit & Debit Cards
Ecobank, Indebank, MSB Bank, Nedbank and OIBM (opportunity International) use ‘Malswitch’ cards which may be used for encashment at ATM’s or as debit cards or ‘e-wallets.’ Cards issued by any of these banks and by Malswitch may be used at ATM’s operated by the others. Additionally, they may be used wherever a Malswitch terminal is installed in payment for goods or services. Malswitch terminals are generally available at filling stations, major shops, hotels and restaurants. The ‘e-wallets’ may be recharged at ATMs or, for those without bank accounts, by purchasing of credit at Malswitch offices in Blantyre, Lilongwe or Mzuzu.
National Bank and Standard Bank issue their own cards and have reciprocal encashment facilities at their ATMs. In addition VISA cards may be used at these ATMS.
Most hotels, restaurants and tour operators are able to transact with VISA, MasterCard and some with American Express. VISA has made headway in Malawi and the electronic terminals are in place at the afore mentioned but please note that they can only be operated when the owner of the card is present to punch in their pin codes; these transactions carry bank commission charges which varies from place to place but the accepted is 5%
For MasterCard and American Express available is still the old swipe system, reference to NBS in South Africa has to be made before acceptance of your card; this therefore carries a higher commission charge of 6%
Unfortunately the only means of making payment to Malawi banks is by bank transfers as no online banking facilities are in place.
Please Note: If your intention is to use your credit card when visiting Malawi or any African country for that matter, be sure to inform your bank that you are travelling and to expect transactions from Africa. In most cases, if you don’t , they will not accept the transaction and it will result in a very embarrassing moment, not to mention the inconvenience caused to your host.
All guided tours are led by experienced and knowledgeable local guides; most of the guides are all well versed in the cultural, historical and natural aspects of Malawi and the other surrounding countries. All are fluent in English and Chichewa the most widely spoken local language and some with other local languages. As we have over the years received clients from all over the world our guides have an understanding of foreign cultures.
At Jambo Africa Ltd, members of our senior management are able to converse with English, Dutch, French, German and Italian speaking clients, and are able to lead group tours in this capacity.
Tips & Advice
Guide to visiting Malawi
For your convenience it is advisable to bring items such as fishing tackle, snorkelling equipment and golf clubs if required. You should not forget a camera and film, sun cream and binoculars. Divers should bring their NAUI or PADI diving card. Bird watchers may want to bring or buy a guide to birds of Malawi.
All visitors require valid passports. Check with the Malawi Diplomatic Mission nearest to you for current visa requirements.
There are no laws concerning dress. However, many Malawians are offended by the site of a woman in scanty cloths, especially in the rural areas and where there are large Muslim population. To avoid giving offence, women travelling in ‘beach wear’, shorts or very short skirts should carry a wrap, locally called chitenje, to be worn whenever they are in public. Male visitors are advised not to walk around bare-chested.
The state-owned water boards in cities and the main urban areas strive to supply safe drinking water in accordance with Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS214) in compliance with the World Health Organisation guidelines. Most residents drink tap water without adverse effects. Bottled water is available throughout the country in most bars, restaurants, shops, filling stations and hotels/lodges. Those visitors who may have doubts about the water quality are advised to drink bottled water until such time as they feel they are safe from minor stomach complaints to which they might be more vulnerable. However, stomach complaints are more likely to be the result of poor food hygiene rather than contamination of the treated water supply. Many hotels at the lake and in rural areas have their own water supplies which vary in quality. Advice should be sought from the operators as to the wisdom of drinking tap water.
Most hotels/lodges and restaurants offer “international” cuisine. While there are a number of specialists restaurants offering Indian, Chinese and other ethnic cuisines, very few offer a selection of Malawian dishes other than the traditional main dish of nsima with green vegetables and beef, chicken or fish as accompaniments, Malawi has a wide range of traditional food, some seasonal, which would delight the palates of many travellers. For those who wish to explore Malawian cuisine further, we recommend that you ask (more especially at smaller lodges) for them to prepare something special. Some hotels/lodges offer traditional cultural visits to nearby villages which will include true traditional Malawian village prepared meals as part of the excursion.
For those who will self cater please adhere to washing your fresh produce in clean water before consumption to avoid any illness.
For tips on how to prepare your own Malawian food, “The Cook Book” is available at bookshops and some tourist facilities. It features traditional foods cooked in traditional manner. It offers many ways of adapting a wide range of commonly available Malawian ingredients to other cuisines.
Driving in Malawi
Drivers must have valid licences for the class of vehicle which they are driving. Malawi driving licences now share common features with all driving licences issued in the Southern African region (SADC). Visitors may drive for up to three months on a valid licence issued in their own country. All vehicles must be insured for third party damage. Vehicles must display a valid vehicle licence, an insurance certificate, a certificate of fitness disc and the name and address of the registered owner.
All vehicles must carry 2 warning triangles, two strips of white reflector tape on the front (left & right side of the bumper) and red on the rear, spare tire, jack and wheel spanner and a fire extinguisher if driving a rented car. Be sure to obey the speed signs especially whilst driving through densely populated areas as this is where you find most of the speed traps manned by very strict traffic police. When taking possession of a rental vehicle please ensure that it has the above mentioned , as the traffic police a fond of targeting them.
The AA Auto club in association with Jambo Africa Ltd offer short and long term membership for recovery and roadside assistance in case of accidents or breakdowns. www.aamalawi.com
Getting Around – Travel & Transport Special notes to visitors – Visitors to Malawi may find it strange that most residents do not know the names of the roads and streets in their towns and cities. Navigation is generally by way of ‘landmarks’ which may be a shop, a church, a building, a suburb or natural feature. Whilst the ‘natives’ do not find it difficult it is extremely puzzling for the newcomer.
The Malawian road network provides easy access to most areas of Malawi. For visitors there are a number of hire car operators to choose from (but we hope that you enquire with Jambo Africa first).
A number of new bus operators, with the purchase of new fleets, have improved public transport situation to such an extent that bus travel with varying degrees of comfort, depending upon route and the budget of the traveller, is now becoming once again viable, safe and reliable form of personal transport to most popular destinations. Inter-city coaches provide non-stop and fast services. For the adventurous the fastest and most flexible form of transport remains the minibus, both within cities and on inter-city routes. However, visitors from countries where life is considered to be of greater value should be warned that the safety record of minibuses, especially on the longer (therefore faster) routes remains much to be desired. Recently a revision of seating capacity from 4 to 3 abreast has ensured that there is less overcrowding. Many minibus operators attempt to avoid compliance which only vociferous opposition by passengers will overcome.
Coach and bus services are available between Blantyre and Zimbabwe; Blantyre and South Africa; Lilongwe and Zambia; Lilongwe and Tanzania.
Public road transport is cheap by international standards. The visitor should keep that in mind when comparing the facilities offered. For the traveller wishing to travel on from main bus stops or terminals there may be a choice of minibus or taxi. Taxis come in all shapes, sizes, ages and conditions. Fares are negotiable. Care should be taken to select a vehicle in good condition and to negotiate the fare BEFORE departure. In the more remote areas, the only form of linking transport is the bicycle taxi and matola (goods vehicles or pick-ups which illegally carry passengers). Bicycle taxis are relatively cheap and readily available, but are warned, it is not the most comfortable mode of transport!
Travel by train is not generally a viable option except for the desperate.
There are 3 airlines operating domestic flights between various locations in Malawi - Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu, Likoma Island, Makokola Retreat (Club Makokola). Of these Ulendo Airlink and Swift Air can be booked through Jambo Africa Ltd or directly and Air Malawi. Charter flights are also available contact us for further details.
Air Malawi, Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airways are the main airlines serving international travellers.
Malawi Shipping Company (MSC) offers regular Lake ferry service on MV Ilala to various ports in Malawi and Mozambique.
The ownership of small arms such as pistols and revolvers is not encouraged. Control of firearms is in the hands of Police Headquarters in Lilongwe by the Registrar of Firearms. If you wish to bring a firearm for sport, you should use your local association to make the necessary applications on your behalf in conjunction with the relative association or agent in Malawi.
Strict application laws have resulted in a low incidence of gun crime.
Health & Health Service
With common sense, anyone in Malawi can expect to lead a healthy life. The principal threat to health, especially for someone without acquired immunity or partial immunity, is malaria.
Malaria is contacted through the bite of the anopheles mosquito. The mosquito is found in greater numbers in low-lying or swampy areas such as the Lower Shire Valley and the Lake shore. However, it is to be found throughout Malawi, except in mountainous areas, throughout the year but in greater numbers during the rainy season. Mosquitoes are more active at dusk and in the early hours of the morning. The most effective way of preventing malaria is to take measures to prevent the mosquito from biting. Always sleep under insecticide treated nets fitted in all good hotels/lodges and readily available in shops. Wear long sleeves and long trousers in the evenings. Use a mosquito repellent – we recommend Peaceful Sleep spray. Most Malawians or long term residents do not take prophylactics. However, visitors are seriously advised to seek medical advice prior to their visit. There are a number of prophylactic regimes available.
The symptoms of malaria are many and various and are very similar to a heavy cold or flu. Blood tests are available at many doctors’ surgeries and at local hospitals and clinics. A negative result does not necessarily mean ‘no malaria’. Tests over several days may be necessary to determine whether there is malaria or not. It is advisable especially for visitors, to seek medical attention immediately.
Drugs are generally readily available everywhere.
Bilharzia is caused by a parasitic worm (schistomes) with a smart life cycle. In fresh water certain types of snails are present that are carriers of the worm. If you are unlucky, these worms will penetrate your skin, do grand tour of the body, and then settle down in the blood vessels surrounding your bladder or large intestine. Here they enjoy themselves producing eggs, which when released cause irritation of the bladder or bowel, before rediscovering the outside world. Bilharzia can only be contracted in FRESH WATER. Most travellers pick up the little blighters in sub – Saharan Africa in Lakes Malawi, Victoria, Kariba and Volta. If you are very unlucky you will get acute Schistosomiasis. About half of all travellers who become infected show no symptoms and for those who do, tiredness is the most common. Occasionally, after months or years, more serious symptoms can occur such as blood in the urine, which is why it’s worth getting checked and treated.
The best way to avoid Bilharzia is by not swimming in still or stagnant waters, such as large ponds or marshes and at the Lake in lagoons where there is a high concentration of people. In moving water or further out off shore in the Lake or at the Islands poses very little threat of the worm finding you.
The national health services are provided by the Government’s Ministry of Health through District Hospitals and clinics. There are a number of referral hospitals. The Malawi College of Medicine works closely with the referral hospitals to provide specialist services. Government hospitals and other facilities are often understaffed and under-resourced. Drugs and other requirements may be in short supply. Treatment is generally free or almost free. Fee paying facilities are available at some Government hospitals which may shorten queues for treatment but the underlying problems of staffing and shortages remain. The work of Government is augmented by others. The Christian Hospital Association of Malawi (CHAM) provides hospitals in many centres. These are generally better staffed and resourced but demand a fee, usually at low cost, for their services. There are a number of well equipped private hospitals.
It is advisable for those travelling to Malawi or Africa in general to have a travel insurance obtained from back home which covers medical matters.
immigration & Embassies/ Consulates
Visitors to Malawi must have a valid passport and are given up to 30 days on arrival which can be extend to 90 days.
Nationals of the following countries do not need visas:
Antigua, Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Iceland, Israel, Singapore, Solomon Islands, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, Sweden, Spain, Tonga, Taipei, Taiwan (China), Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain, Zambia, Italy, Japan, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Luxemburg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives Island, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Samoa (Western), Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri-Lanka, St. Lucia, Swaziland, San Marino, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Northern Island, United States of America and Zimbabwe.
Visitors from other countries need visas to enter Malawi. Visas must be obtained prior to travel and can be obtained from any Malawi Mission nearest to country of residence/application or Immigration Headquarters in Malawi. More information on Visa acquisition can be obtained from Immigration Headquarters, Box 331 Blantyre, Malawi.
Tel: 01 823 777 / 01 750 656 / 7 Fax: 01 823 065 or E-mail to email@example.com
Embassies & Consulates
Only embassies and Consulates operating in Malawi are listed in this guide. (Diplomatic Missions are all situated in Lilongwe).
Belgium Hon Consul Mr. Rui Manuel Francisco, Lilongwe
Tel: +265 (0) 1 753 834
Britain Hon Consul Mr. Krishna Savjani, Blantyre
Tel: +265 (0) 1 824 555
Canada Hon Consul Mr. Kassam Okhai, Limbe
Tel: +265 (0) 1 845 269
Cyprus Hon Consul Mr. Mike Christos Michael, Blantyre
Tel: +265 (0) 1 843 490
Finland Hon Consul Mrs. Outi Maattanen-Bourke, Lilongwe
Tel: +265 (0) 1 794 522
Greece Hon Consul Mr. Hernes Kavorides, Blantyre
Tel: +265 (0) 1 875 494
Iceland Hon Consul Mr. Davie Domanic Mwale, Lilongwe
Tel: +265 (0) 1 773 317
Ireland Hon Consul Mr. John Michael O’Neill, Blantyre
Tel: +265 (0) 1 821 373
Italy Hon Consul Mr. A. E. Sabelli, Lilongwe
Tel: +265 (0) 1 720 266
Mozambique Hon Consulate Office, Blantyre
Tel: +265 (0) 843 189
Pakistan Hon Consul Mr. Abdul Rashid Jakhura, Limbe
Tel: +265 (0) 1 843 448
Portugal Hon Consul Octavia Custodio, Blantyre
Tel: +265 (0) 1 870 300
Slovak Republic Hon Consul Mr. D. Bapu, Blantyre
Tel: +265 (0) 1 821 813