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Come Rain or Shine!

Malawi Seasons & Weather

Typically, Malawi can be divided into the following seasons:

  • Wet season December – April
  • Dry Season May – November

So, what are the highlights of travelling during these seasons?

The topography of Malawi is a little different from that of its neighbours; we have many mountains and a giant lake! Typically, the higher up you go, the colder it is. So, the tea estates and the northern parks can be chilly in winter, you may even get some frost – no snow though! However, the lake typically stays warm all year round; as someone who steers clear of a tepid shower to rather endure 3rd-degree burns, I can confirm I have swum in the lake in both seasons and have thus far not felt cold. Swimming pools, however, can be a different matter, so test the temperature before jumping in!

When is the Rainy Season in Malawi?

From December through May we have our rains, the farmers rejoice, the frogs come out and the country turns into a tropical green paradise! The rain is not cold like the sleet of Scotland but rather lukewarm in which you can re-create a herbal essence advert if you so wish.

Liwonde green season

With the plant in full foliage, this is a great time to visit the green and lush tea estates or some of our national parks to see all the baby animals and the incredible birdlife. From the migrants to the breeding plumage, this is the time to watch as they court or nest, having flown thousands of miles from overseas. Liwonde is one of the best birding spots in Africa and has an abundance of land and aquatic birds with many migrants; therefore, we would highly recommend a stop here for avid twitchers.

Not to mention the hippos, rhinos and elephants. Have you ever seen a pudgy baby Elle as it discovers how to swim, charge or use its trunk…? Let’s not forget all the newly introduced cat species; the cheetah seems to be permanently pregnant – did you know a baby cheetah mimics the look of a honey badger to deter predators? See for yourself!

kingfisher, liwonde

Of course, this time is one for a bargain hunter. Thanks to a few thunderstorms and showers, the prices come right down, which is the perfect time to take a well-deserved drink break! It’s warm enough to wear shorts and a T-shirt and cheap enough to stay double the length!

Negatives—Mosquitos love the rain, but with regular sprays of your preferred repellant and a few extra sundowners, you’ll forget all about them!

When is the Dry Season in Malawi?

June – August can be cooler. It’s the sort of weather that a European would still wear a jacket and shorts in or a South African a jumper and slops in. During this time, the rains have subsided, and there are fewer insects around.

The days are warm and sunny, but the evenings are cooler. This is peak season, but don’t let the name fool you. It isn’t peak because this is when most animals are around. It is peak because of the prices!

mount mulanje, malawi

September to November is when it starts to get hot! Thanks to the mountains, it’s not too hot, but you may want to consider a lodge with AC over the beautiful eco-lodges that can offer you hot views but not a cooling fan! During this period, water sources in parks are drying up, and you will often see many animals congregating around one water hole. Unlike lakes, rivers are not safe spaces for swimming and snorkelling for fish. The rivers teem with hungry crocs ready to snap up their next meal. It’s quite a sight to see the animals congregate in large numbers, but it can be unsettling to see the wildlife conditions deteriorate, and, of course, kills are not for everyone.

Expected temperatures in Malawi

Malawi doesn’t experience extreme temperatures; however, temperatures vary throughout the country, where altitude changes.

Lilongwe – Central region

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Min (°C) 17 17 16 13 10 7 6 7 11 14 16 17
Max (°C) 26 26 26 26 25 23 23 25 27 30 30 27
Min (°F) 63 63 61 55 50 45 43 45 52 57 61 63
Max (°F) 79 79 79 79 77 73 73 77 81 86 86 81

Nsanje – The South

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Min (°C) 22 22 21 20 17 15 15 14 17 20 22 22
Max (°C) 33 33 32 32 30 27 27 29 33 35 36 35
Min (°F) 72 72 70 68 63 59 59 57 63 68 72 72
Max (°F) 91 91 90 90 86 81 81 84 91 95 97 95

Karonga – Northern region

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Min (°C) 22 22 22 21 20 18 17 18 19 22 23 22
Max (°C) 30 30 29 29 29 28 27 28 31 32 32 30
Min (°F) 72 72 72 70 68 64 63 64 66 72 73 72
Max (°F) 86 86 84 84 84 82 81 82 88 90 90 86

Source: Climates to Travel.

Activities by Season in Malawi

Malawi, affectionately known as the “Warm Heart of Africa,” offers various experiences that change with the seasons. Each season brings unique opportunities for adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion, making Malawi a year-round destination for travellers.

Rainy Season (December to April)

Scenic Landscapes and Birdwatching: The rainy season paints Malawi in vivid shades of green, making it a photographer’s and nature lover’s paradise. It’s also the prime season for birdwatching, as the country becomes a haven for migratory birds, adding to the rich local avian diversity.

Cultural Celebrations: Discover Malawi’s rich cultural tapestry at Zomba City Festival (26-28 April). With entertainment for all ages, visitors can enjoy arts & culture, sports, and kids activities spread throughout town, from visual art exhibitions to live music, yoga, theatre, poetry, hiking, and more.

African-fish-eagle-hunting-Lake-Malawi

Dry Season (May to November)

Wildlife Safaris: This is the best time for wildlife viewing in parks like Liwonde and Majete. Animals are more easily spotted as they congregate around water sources, providing exceptional safari experiences.

Beach Activities on Lake Malawi: The crystal-clear waters of Lake Malawi are perfect for snorkelling, diving, kayaking, or simply unwinding on the beaches during the dry season. The lake’s tranquil waters and picturesque sunsets offer a peaceful escape.

Hiking Mount Mulanje: Take advantage of the cooler weather to hike Mount Mulanje, where the trails lead to stunning vistas and the opportunity to discover this majestic mountain’s unique flora and fauna.

Transition Months (April-May and October-November)

Explore without Crowds: These months offer a sweet spot for visitors looking to enjoy Malawi’s beauty with fewer tourists. The weather is pleasant, and you can experience the transitioning landscapes at your own pace, enjoying activities like light hikes, community visits, or leisurely boat rides on Lake Malawi.

Cultural Celebrations: The Tumaini Festival in November is a unique music and cultural festival held at the Dzaleka Refugee Camp that promotes intercultural harmony. This event offers a remarkable example of how entertainment and artistic expression can foster community and understanding. It showcases Malawi’s vibrant culture and community spirit.

Basic Packing list

Here is a packing list for Malawi’s dry and rainy seasons, considering the climate and activities you’ll engage in. Here’s a simplified table format to guide your packing:

Item Dry Season (May to Oct) Rainy Season (Nov to Apr)
Clothing Light, breathable clothes; a warm jacket for evenings Waterproof jacket; quick-dry clothing; warm layers
Footwear Sturdy hiking boots; sandals Waterproof shoes; sandals
Accessories Sunhat; sunglasses; sunscreen Umbrella; waterproof bags
Health Mosquito repellent; malaria prophylaxis Mosquito repellent; malaria prophylaxis; hand sanitiser
Gear Binoculars for wildlife; camera Camera; waterproof cover for electronics
Miscellaneous   Reusable water bottle; power adapter Reusable water bottle; power adapter

For both seasons, it’s essential to carry health precautions like vaccinations and visa requirements in check. Cultural etiquette tips include greeting elders respectfully and asking permission before taking photos of locals. This preparation guide aims to make your trip to Malawi enjoyable and worry-free, adapting to the season’s demands while immersing in its rich cultural and natural beauty.

Want to visit Malawi?

Malawi is a fantastic place to visit throughout the year. When you visit, it should depend on what you want to see and do and what climate you prefer, but no matter when you visit, you will have an amazing experience.

If you are planning a trip to Malawi and would like to know more about what weather you can expect during your visit, contact our team.

Would you like to visit Malawi?

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