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Malawi

Promoted as the 'Warm Heart of Africa', Malawi is a long, thin country renowned for the unequalled friendliness of its people, unspoilt national parks and wildlife reserves, and the beaches and tropical fish life of Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa. The countries layout is dominated by the vast lake, as well as the Great Rift Valley that cuts through the country from north to south, creating fertile valleys, cool mountains and verdant plateaus.

Lake Malawi is an irresistible attraction for travellers with its beaches, resorts, watersports and outstanding variety of fish life a magnet for divers and snorkellers. The lake is home to a bigger variety of fish species than any other freshwater lake on earth, most of them protected within the Lake Malawi National Park at its southern tip. Most visitors head for the small, restful village at Cape Maclear which, along with its offshore islands, is part of the park. Equally popular, Nkhata Bay to the north has bays, beaches and various water activities. Spread along the length of the lakeshore are numerous traditional fishing villages, and the fishermen in their dugout canoes form a quintessential postcard silhouette against the spectacular golden sunset.

Malawi is also blessed with numerous game reserves and national parks that are uncrowded, well stocked with animals and a renowned variety of birdlife, and offer a unique wilderness experience. The northern Nyika Plateau, at around 7,500ft (2,300m), is one of the world's highest game reserves and is a remote area located in the most unspoilt and least visited part of the country, with beautiful grasslands and waterfalls, the highest concentration of leopard in Central Africa, and famous for its abundant orchid species. To the south the best-known park is Liwonde National Park with thousands of hippos and crocodiles on the banks of the Shire River, as well as large numbers of elephants, zebra and antelope.

The southern part of the country is the most developed and the most populated. Although Lilongwe is the capital, the region is home to Malawi's largest city and main commercial centre, Blantyre, which is a good base for visiting two of the area's attractions - the vast massif of Mt Mulunje, offering some of the finest hiking trails in the country, and Zomba Plateau.

Malawi has remained peaceful for over a century, unaffected by war and internal strife that has torn many other African countries apart, and although poor and densely populated, the country offers visitors a wealth of scenic highlights, culture and activities.

All travel information on this page has been provided courtesy of WordTravels.com

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The best time to travel to Malawi is during the winter months between May and October, which is the cool, dry season, most comfortable for game viewing. The weather during summer, November to April, is hot and humid. This is also the rainy season. Rain is heavier on the higher areas than around Lake Malawi, and some roads become impassable. The coolest months are June and July when daytime temperatures hover around 70ºF (21ºC), and nights can be very cold.
The official currency is the Malawi Kwacha (MWK), which is divided into 100 tambalas. Travellers cheques and foreign currencies are accepted by banks, authorised hotels and other institutions in the main town centres; bureaux de change are also available. The US dollar is the easiest currency to exchange. Credit cards are not widely accepted and ATMs are scarce and should not be relied upon. Exchanging currency on the black market is not recommended.
Electricity
Electrical current is 220/240 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin, rectangular blade plugs are standard.

Language
English is the official language, but Chichewa is more commonly spoken.

Health
Tap water should not be drunk unless it has been boiled or chemically treated. Medical facilities are limited and, outside of the capital, medical care may be difficult to find. Limited medications are available and it is advisable to bring along a medical kit for private use. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.

Tipping
Service charges are not included in hotel and restaurant bills, and tipping is at the client's discretion. It is common practice to tip guides in the national parks.

Local Customs
It is customarily expected by most Malawians to be greeted with a friendly 'Hello, how are you?' and a handshake. It is courteous to ask permission before taking photographs of people and homosexuality is illegal. Women may dress as they please but should take local custom and religion into account when travelling outside of the main tourist areas and dress accordingly.

Communications
The international dialling code for Malawi is +265. The outgoing code is 101 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 10127 for South Africa). There are no city/area codes required. The telephone system is not very reliable, but Internet, email and fax are available in most towns and tourist areas. The GSM 900 cell phone network gives coverage to most of the country and is compatible with most international operators.

Duty Free
Travellers to Malawi do not have to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco. For travellers over 18 years 1 litre spirits, 1 litre beer and 1 litre wine can be brought into the country without incurring duty fees.

Entry requirements for UK nationals
British citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Malawi. No visa is required for British passport holders, irrespective of the endorsement regarding their national status contained therein, for stays of up to 90 days.
All foreign passengers to Malawi must hold return/onward tickets and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and sufficient funds to cover their expenses while in the country. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Malawi, if arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area.

Destinations in Malawi

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