When is the ideal time to travel to Malawi?
Malawi has a subtropical climate throughout the year. Although it is very warm all year round, there is a clear distinction between the dry and the rainy season (September-April). During the rainy season, there are strong showers, especially in the afternoon. The roads are often difficult to pass at this time.
The best time to visit Malawi is from May to September, during the cooler season. The temperatures are pleasant and Lake Malawi is the perfect location for a beach vacation in Africa.
The country is engulfed in the throes of rain, making conditions underfoot very muddy. Do note that lodges around Lake Malawi usually close around this time so you will need to factor that in your travel plans.
- This is a great time for birdwatchers as the migratory birds will have arrived from the Northern Hemisphere, making birdlife viewing great at any of the national parks
The heavy rains continue through the month and conditions are hot and humid. This still remains a great time for birdwatching, with Nyika National Park, in particular, looking lush and beautiful at this time courtesy the terrestrial orchids that begin to make an appearance across the plateau.
- Head to Nyika National Park for a spot of birdwatching!
This is a mixed month in Malawi. It marks the last of the heavy rainy months, so conditions will greatly vary. It’s not the ideal time to see wildlife as given the lush vegetation, animals will be difficult to spot.
- If you do happen to be in Malawi around this time, head to any of the national parks for a bit of birdwatching!
With the rainy season finally abating, expect longer patches of sunshine and dry periods in the country. Temperatures, especially during the night, start dropping in the higher regions as well as the further south you go.
- Spend time in Lilongwe, the capital city, as you savor its charms on a walk in The Old Town with its African vibe, vibrant street life and a large walled market selling a multitude of things!
- A must visit is the Lizulu Market in Lilongwe – this bustling activity takes place on both sides of the Lilongwe River, which are connected by bamboo bridges
Conditions continue to dry out and temperatures are largely mild, as you head towards the cold season. This is mating season among the crocodiles so keep your eyes peeled when you visit the national parks!
- Head to Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary with its spotted hyena, porcupine, bush pig, bushbuck, velvet monkeys and crocodiles
- Enjoy walks, hikes and cycling tours at the spectacular Zomba plateau! The table-top mountain has streams, waterfalls and lakes, vast tracts of cedar, pine and cypress forests!
This is the start of high season in Malawi. While it remains warm and sunny during the day, with temperatures touching the mid 80s, do note that that night-time temperatures can drop significantly – in the highland regions log fires are burnt for warmth and you can even expect frost in places like Mount Mulanje.
- Opt for boat and canoe safaris in Liwonde National Park, and observe a variety of animals: gazelles, zebras, elephants and wildcats
Sunny days and cool (veering to cold and chilly) nights continue through the month. The dry conditions make it a good time to plan your safaris! Do note that this month the Lake Malawi International Sailing Marathon – a week-long June–July event on Lake Malawi, among one of the longest freshwater sailing competitions in the world – takes place.
- Enjoy the magnificent summit panorama in the shade of the Mulanje Mountain during a hike in the tea plantations
- During your hike, take a break at its beautiful waterfalls such as Likhubula Waterfalls
- If hiking isn’t your cup of tea, relax as you take in your scenic surroundings sipping on a hot cuppa in one of the old colonial tea estates here
Expect temperatures to slowly start increasing around this time, while conditions largely remain sunny and dry, making this one of the best times to visit the country.
- Explore the diverse landscape of the Majete Wildlife Reserve with its elephants, buffaloes and rhinos
- Discover the Shire uplands mountain biking or on horseback as you are surrounded by stunning views of Mulanje Mountain
- Enjoy lovely walks through the large tea plantations of the Shire Highlands or in the rainforest, go on coffee or tea tasting excursions, bird-watching, or even experience microlight flights!
Expect hot and dry conditions to hold sway through the country as night-time temperatures start warming up as well. This makes it the ideal time to visit Lake Malawi, especially given the clear conditions and enjoy its plentiful aquatic life and various water sports!
- Head to Blantyre, known for its scenic beauty and hilly terrain, elegant hotels, fine restaurants, and fashionable pubs
- In Blantyre, visit the Museum to see some ethnic gems and spend an afternoon in the art gallery of the colonial-style Mandala House
- At Lake Malawi, you can kayak over to Mumbo Island for some private downtime under sunny skies, or put your feet up on serene sandy shores
- Enjoy The Lake of Stars Music Festival, held on a different lakeshore in Lake Malawi towards the end of the month
This is the last of the warm dry months before the rainy season sets in, so make the most of the outdoors! Temperatures can cross 100°F in some parts of the country so keep your sunscreen and sun hat handy!
- Enjoy the beaches, and colorful underwater life at the majestic Lake Malawi as you go scuba diving, sailing, water skiing, and snorkeling
- Spend time in picturesque Cape Maclear – the town is part of the Lake Malawi National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Unwind on one of the romantic islands with a sundowner as you take in the glorious orange-red sunsets in the skies above Lake Malawi
This is the start of Malawi’s long rainy season. The rains though remain erratic, only settling in towards the end of the month. This is also the time the migratory birds start arriving in the national parks.
- Explore Nyika, Malawi’s largest national park, home to a variety of different game, 400 species of birds and stunning views of the landscape
The rainy season sets in properly during this month – expect several thunderstorms!
- Visit Livingstonia, near Lake Malawi, which is a mixture of colonial architecture and dusty, tree-lined streets and offers a fascinating glimpse into Malawi’s colonial past
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What to Pack
What you carry on your trip to Malawi depends on the time of year you choose to visit. Here are a list of items you would possibly need: light clothes in cotton or linen, preferably of bush-like colors, light jumper or jacket, light rain gear such as a waterproof jacket and footwear that will dry out easily, good sunscreen and sunglasses, long trousers and long sleeved shirts for prevention of insect bites in the evenings, mosquito repellent, warm clothing such as gloves, hat, scarf, thermal layers, warm jacket or fleece.
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Highlights of Malawi
12 Days: $ 8,090 / person
In southern Malawi, Majete Wildlife Reserve covers about 7km² of fairly rugged, hilly bush of the Lower Shire Valley – and has been intensively protected and re-stocked with game since…
Majete Wildlife Reserve
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