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The Ultimate Malawi Safari Travel Guide

Malawi Safari Travel Guide 2024

Malawi, often called the “Warm Heart of Africa,” is gaining worldwide recognition as a top safari destination. It’s in Southeastern Africa and has diverse landscapes, from the Great Rift Valley to the shores of Lake Malawi, known for its clear waters and abundant fish. Unlike other African destinations, Malawi offers a more intimate experience with wildlife alongside the thrill of safari.

Malawi has become popular among travellers seeking off-the-beaten-path safari experiences. Its appeal lies in its scenic beauty, diverse wildlife, and less-crowded parks, which provide opportunities for personal and up-close wildlife encounters. Whether visitors are interested in observing the wildlife, bird watching, or participating in conservation efforts, Malawi offers unparalleled grace and hospitality.

In this guide, we’ll explore the essentials of planning a safari in Malawi, including the best times to visit for optimal wildlife viewing and navigating the journey into its wild heart. We’ll also highlight the top destinations that make Malawi a must-visit for nature enthusiasts, provide details about the diverse wildlife visitors can expect to encounter, and shed light on the conservation efforts essential to preserving Malawi’s natural heritage. Whether you are an experienced safari-goer or a first-time adventurer, Malawi’s untouched beauty and rich biodiversity will leave a lasting impression.

Best Time to Visit Malawi for a Safari

Malawi has a distinct wet and dry season, each offering unique advantages for safari-goers. Understanding these seasonal changes when planning your trip is essential, especially if you’re keen on spotting specific wildlife or engaging in certain activities.

Dry Season (May to October): The dry season is the best time for wildlife viewing in Malawi. With thinner vegetation and scarce water, animals gather around permanent water sources, making them easier to spot. The risk of malaria is lower, and there are fewer mosquitoes, making for more comfortable safari conditions. It can get quite hot in September and October, especially in lower-lying areas like Liwonde National Park, but temperatures vary, with warm days and cooler nights.

Wet Season (November to April): During the wet season, Malawi’s landscape transforms with lush, green scenery as the rains arrive. Wet season is a paradise for bird watchers as migratory birds arrive and many species begin their breeding seasons. While wildlife viewing can be more challenging due to thicker vegetation and more dispersed animals, the parks are less crowded, offering a more private experience. Additionally, newborn animals are commonly seen during this time, adding a tender aspect to safaris.

When planning your visit, consider what you want to experience most. The dry season offers the best wildlife viewing conditions, while the wet season appeals to those interested in birdwatching, photography, and experiencing the vibrant life of the landscape after the rains.

Elephants, Liwonde National Park

How to Get to Malawi’s Parks

When planning your safari adventure to Malawi, you have several options. Most international visitors fly into Lilongwe, the capital, or Blantyre, the country’s commercial hub. You can also enter Malawi overland from neighbouring countries such as Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique.

If you choose to fly, you can use Lilongwe’s Kamuzu International Airport (LLW) or Blantyre’s Chileka International Airport (BLZ), the main gateways for international travellers. Some airlines offer flights from Europe, Asia, and other African countries, often with layovers in regional hubs like Johannesburg, Nairobi, or Addis Ababa. Upon arrival, you can find car rentals, taxis, and local flights to domestic destinations.

For those travelling by land, you can overland entry from neighbouring countries, with bus services and car rentals available for travel into and around Malawi.

When travelling to the parks from Lilongwe:

  • Liwonde National Park is approximately 3 to 4 hours from Lilongwe and accessible by private vehicle or organised transfer. Mvuu Camp Airport is an airstrip serving the Park, making it very accessible, especially for those who wish to combine a Zambia safari with a Malawi safari and lake experience.
  • Majete Wildlife Reserve, located in the southern region, is about a 4-hour drive from Lilongwe. It showcases Malawi’s diverse landscapes.
  • Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, to the northeast of Lilongwe, can be reached by road in about 3 hours. Its terrain is more rugged than that of the southern parks.
  • Nyika National Park, situated in the north, is the most remote destination. It’s approximately a 6 to 8-hour drive from Lilongwe or a charter flight to Chelinda airstrip, ideal for those looking to save time and witness stunning aerial views of Malawi’s landscapes.

Here are some travel tips:

  • While self-driving is possible, hiring a vehicle with a driver familiar with the local roads and conditions is recommended, especially for those unfamiliar with driving on the left side.
  • Consider local flights for longer distances or remote destinations like Nyika and Liwodne to maximise your safari time.
  • Many lodges and safari operators offer transfer services from Lilongwe or Blantyre, ensuring seamless park access.

Planning your journey to Malawi’s parks requires considering distance, time, and the kind of experience you wish to have. Whether you opt for scenic routes by road or the efficiency of local flights, the journey to the heart of Malawi’s wilderness is an integral part of the safari adventure.

Walking Safari, Liwonde National Park

Top Malawi Safari Destinations

Malawi has nine fantastic national parks and wildlife reserves with extraordinary landscapes, wildlife and experiences. We are going to concentrate on the four most popular safari destinations. Each has its own charm and offers intimate encounters with the natural world. From the riverine splendour of Liwonde to the rugged terrains of Majete, the ancient forests of Nkhotakota, and the elevated beauty of Nyika, you’re about to discover the essence of Malawi’s wilderness. 

Join us as we explore the distinct characteristics and conservation triumphs that make each park a critical piece of Malawi’s safari allure, promising adventures that resonate with the soul of every traveller.

Liwonde National Park

Often called the jewel of Malawi’s national parks, Liwonde is famous for its river landscapes and diverse wildlife. The Shire River flows along its western border and is a lifeline for the park’s animals, especially during the dry season. Visitors can expect to see lots of elephants, hippos, and crocodiles. The park also has a thriving rhino population, making it a key destination for those hoping to catch sight of these endangered creatures. Safari-goers can enjoy boat safaris on the Shire River, game drives, and walking safaris for an up-close encounter with nature.

In recent years, African Parks has been working on restoring Liwonde’s predator population. Cheetahs, absent from the park for a century, were reintroduced in 2017. A founder population of lions was brought back in 2018, and wild dogs were reintroduced in 2021. Additionally, in 2019, 17 black rhinos were relocated from South Africa to Liwonde in one of history’s largest international black rhino translocations.

lion roaring in Majete
Lion roaring, Majete

Majete Wildlife Reserve

A great conservation success story, Majete has become a thriving “Big Five” destination thanks to African Parks’ restocking efforts. Located in the southern region of Malawi, this reserve offers rugged terrain, including the dramatic Chikwawa Escarpment and the broad Mkulumadzi River.

In addition to the “Big Five,” Majete is home to a variety of wildlife, including herds of zebra, buffalo, sable, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, klipspringer, cheetah, giraffe, and a reintroduced African wild dog. Bird enthusiasts will be delighted to know Majete is home to over 300 bird species, including four species of vulture, Pel’s fishing owl, cuckoo hawk, and local specialities such as Livingstone’s flycatcher, Boehm’s bee-eater, and racket-tailed roller, all commonly spotted in the area.

Tongole Wilderness Retreat
Canoe Safari - Tongole, Nkhotakota

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Located east of Lake Malawi, Nkhotakota is Malawi’s oldest and largest reserve (1,800 km2). This vast wilderness area, characterised by dense forests and rugged terrain, has also been managed by African Parks, which has led to significant wildlife recovery and restocking programs. Elephants, buffalo, and various antelope species are increasingly sighted, and the reserve offers a truly wild safari experience.

In 2016 and 2017, one of the most extensive wildlife restoration efforts took place, introducing 500 elephants and 2,000 other animals to Nkhotakota. Additional introductions occurred in 2022. These momentous events reignited hope for tourism and preserving the reserve as a crucial wildlife habitat.

Zebra - Chelina Lodge, Nyika National Park
Zebra - Chelina Lodge, Nyika National Park

Nyika National Park

This park, located on the Nyika Plateau, is known for its stunning landscapes, including rolling hills, lush grasslands, and dense patches of montane forests. It is particularly famous for its flora, with over 200 orchids flowering in the rainy season. The park is also a haven for leopards, zebras, and various antelope. Its high altitude makes it a unique safari destination in Africa, offering game viewing, trekking, and mountain biking opportunities.

Nyika offers fantastic trekking and mountain biking opportunities, as well as traditional 4×4 excursions and safaris. The park is teeming with attractions, including waterfalls, a neolithic rock shelter, trout pools, and even a ‘magic lake,’ all amidst breathtaking vistas and exciting wildlife encounters.

Each destination offers a glimpse into Malawi’s diverse ecosystems and the conservation efforts revitalising its natural heritage. Whether it’s the aquatic life of Liwonde, the restored majesty of Majete, the untouched wilderness of Nkhotakota, or the highland wonders of Nyika, Malawi offers unforgettable safari experiences for every type of traveller.

Malawi Wildlife

Malawi boasts diverse landscapes that provide a stunning setting for a wide variety of wildlife, making it an appealing destination for nature lovers and enthusiasts. The country’s dedication to conservation has played a vital role in preserving and highlighting its natural heritage, allowing visitors to observe a wide range of species in their natural habitats.

Big Cats and the Big Five

While Malawi may not be as well-known for its big cat populations as some African countries, it offers the chance to see these magnificent predators in the wild. Leopards are the more commonly sighted of the big cats, especially in the woodland and forested areas of Nyika National Park and Majete. Lions have been reintroduced to Majete Wildlife Reserve, where they are thriving, making Majete a key destination for those hoping to glimpse the king of the beasts in Malawi.

The “Big Five”—lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo—is a big draw for safari-goers. Malawi strives to become a “Big Five” safari destination. Thanks to successful conservation and reintroduction efforts, Majete Wildlife Reserve offers an opportunity to see these iconic African mammals.

Leopards and Lions aren’t the only big cats spotted in Malawi. Cheetahs were reintroduced to Liwonde National Park in 2017 after being absent for over 20 years. The reintroduction program has succeeded, with several litters of cubs being born in the park since then. 

Popular Wildlife

Malawi is home to a wide variety of wildlife. The country boasts large populations of hippos and crocodiles that dominate the waterways. Elephants and zebras are common, especially in large herds in Liwonde National Park. Antelope species such as sable, kudu, and waterbuck roam the plains and woodlands in large numbers, while the unique African wild dog can sometimes be spotted in Majete.


Malawi’s diverse landscapes and central position close to the equator make it a haven for birdwatching, with around 650 bird species, 10% of which are not seen in other parts of southern Africa. The country’s varied habitats, from lakeshores and wetlands to woodlands and mountains, provide rich opportunities for bird enthusiasts. From African fish eagles and hammerkops to scimitar-billed wood hoopoe and Lilian’s lovebirds, Malawi offers visitors a stunning array of birdlife to discover and admire. 

The national parks, wildlife reserves, and forest reserves are ideal for birdwatching, offering natural habitats and expert guiding. The best time for birdwatching in Malawi is towards the close of the dry season to the end of the wet season, providing the greatest opportunities to see a wide range of bird species, including migratory birds. Whether it’s the sight of African fish eagles diving for fish or the colourful display of sunbirds in the woodlands, Malawi’s bird-watching experiences are sure to captivate and inspire.

Lila Breasted Roller, Malawi
Lila Breasted Roller, Liwonde
Warthogs, Malawi
Warthogs, Liwonde

Conservation Efforts

Malawi’s diversity and abundance of wildlife are a testament to the ongoing conservation efforts nationwide. Organisations like African Parks, in partnership with the Malawi government, have been instrumental in anti-poaching operations, habitat restoration, and wildlife reintroduction programs, ensuring that Malawi’s natural beauty and biodiversity can be enjoyed by future generations.

Wildlife and Conservation Efforts

Malawi’s commitment to wildlife conservation is a cornerstone of its growing popularity as a safari destination. Through innovative and collaborative efforts, the country has made significant strides in protecting its natural heritage and ensuring the sustainability of its ecosystems and the wildlife that inhabits them.

African Parks

At the forefront of conservation in Malawi is African Parks, a non-profit organisation directly responsible for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. In Malawi, African Parks manages Liwonde National Park, Majete Wildlife Reserve, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and Mangochi Forest Reserve, focusing on restoring these areas to their former glory through law enforcement, wildlife reintroduction, and community engagement.

Wildlife Reintroduction and Rehabilitation

One of Malawi’s most notable conservation successes is reintroducing species lost to poaching and habitat destruction. Majete Wildlife Reserve has transformed from a depleted area devoid of most major wildlife to a thriving ecosystem home to over 12,000 animals, including the Big Five. Similarly, Nkhotakota has seen the largest elephant translocation in human history, with over 500 elephants moved to the reserve to reduce pressure on habitats and help repopulate the area.

Other significant wildlife reintroductions to Malawi parks include:

Anti-Poaching Efforts

The aggressive stance against poaching has been integral to Malawi’s conservation achievements. By establishing well-trained and equipped ranger teams, implementing aerial surveillance, and using advanced technology, African Parks and the Malawi government have significantly reduced poaching activities, ensuring the protection of the country’s wildlife.

Lilongwe Wildlife Trust

Lilongwe Wildlife Trust (LWT) operates the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, a sanctuary for orphaned, injured, and confiscated wildlife. Their main goal is to care for these animals and release them back into the wild whenever possible. In addition to being a sanctuary, LWT functions as an educational hub, advocates for policy change and conducts research on wildlife welfare, management, and conservation medicine. Through their multifaceted approach, they play a crucial role in protecting Malawi’s wildlife and securing its future.

Community Involvement

Malawi recognises that long-term conservation success depends on local support, so efforts have increasingly focused on involving communities in conservation activities. Initiatives include education programs, sustainable development projects to improve livelihoods, and involving locals in tourism operations, ensuring conservation efforts also benefit the local population.

International Support and Recognition

Malawi’s conservation efforts have garnered international attention and support, with various organisations and governments contributing to funding, technical expertise, and global awareness campaigns. This international collaboration has been crucial in amplifying the impact of local conservation initiatives.

Malawi’s wildlife’s resilience and rejuvenation are testaments to the effectiveness of these conservation efforts. The country’s commitment to preserving its natural landscapes and biodiversity enhances visitors’ safari experience and sets a benchmark for African conservation success.

Cheetah, Majete, Malawi
Cheetah, Majete

Types of Safaris and Activities

Malawi offers a wide range of safari experiences to cater to different interests and adventure levels, thanks to its diverse landscapes and strong commitment to conservation. From traditional game drives to immersive cultural exchanges, visitors can explore natural wonders and connect with local communities.

Game Drives

Game drives in Malawi allow visitors to explore vast landscapes in search of wildlife. Experienced guides lead these drives in open vehicles, offering insights into ecosystems and animal behaviours. Morning and afternoon drives capture different aspects of the park’s life, while nocturnal drives allow sightings of night-time creatures in some areas.

Boat Safaris

Boat safaris along the Shire River at Liwonde National Park and Majete offer close encounters with hippos, crocodiles, and various bird species. You’ll also have great sightings of animals on the riverbanks, as much of the wildlife comes down to the river to drink or graze on the fertile plains near the water’s edge. Additionally, elephants, especially young male bulls, enjoy playing in the shallow waters near the banks and will put on a great display for anyone on a boat safari. Visitors to Nkhotakota can paddle canoes on a boat safari down the Bua River as the might river cuts through the dense bush.

Walking Safaris

For a more intimate connection with the wilderness, walking safaris accompanied by armed guides allow visitors to explore the bush on foot, learning about tracking, flora and fauna, and the ecosystem’s smaller, often overlooked aspects. This immersive experience offers a deeper understanding of the natural environment and the interconnectedness of all living things.

Other Activities

Nyika Plateau is perfect for mountain biking and trekking, offering stunning landscapes of rolling grasslands and wildflowers. Along Lake Malawi, snorkelling and diving reveal an underwater world of colourful cichlid fish unique to this freshwater lake.

Malawi’s approach to safari experiences is holistic, blending wildlife viewing with cultural insights and conservation awareness. This diversity ensures that every traveller can connect with the country’s natural beauty and cultural richness, creating a truly memorable safari adventure.

Kuthengo Camp, Game Drive,
Kuthengo Camp, Game Drive, Liwonde

Malawi Safari Accommodation Options

As Malawi’s reputation as a safari destination grows, so does the diversity of its accommodation options, catering to a wide range of preferences and budgets. From luxurious lodges that offer an escape into the heart of the wilderness to eco-friendly camps that emphasise sustainability, here’s a closer look at the lodging options available, with examples for each category to help you plan your stay.

Exclusive Lodges

Exclusive lodges in Malawi provide exceptional comfort and exclusivity, combining stunning locations with high-end amenities. These lodges often feature personalised services, such as private guides for game drives and in-room dining, ensuring a bespoke safari experience.

Kuthengo Camp in Liwonde National Park is set by the Shire River. It offers spacious safari tents with all the necessary comforts, including solar-powered lighting and outdoor showers, enhancing the connection with nature.

Chelinda Lodge in Nyika National Park offers a unique highland experience. Its log cabins overlook the rolling grasslands, home to zebra, antelope, and rich birdlife.

Mid-Range Options

Mid-range accommodations offer a comfortable yet affordable safari experience, balancing convenience and natural immersion. These options often include comfortable lodging, en-suite bathrooms, and communal dining areas, making them ideal for families and groups.

Thawale Lodge in Majete Wildlife Reserve is nestled within the reserve’s heart. It offers comfortable tented chalets and a chance to spot wildlife from the lodge’s viewing deck.

Mvuu Lodge in Liwonde National Park is renowned for its waterfront setting, allowing guests to see elephants, hippos, and birds from their private decks.

Eco-Friendly Camps

Focused on sustainability, eco-friendly camps are designed to have minimal environmental impact. They utilise renewable energy, water-saving measures, and eco-friendly construction materials, providing a responsible travel option.

Mumbo Island in Lake Malawi National Park offers a rustic yet comfortable experience on a pristine island. Its entire operation runs on solar power and eco-friendly principles, making it a fantastic extension of your safari experience.

Each accommodation option in Malawi ensures a comfortable and memorable stay and supports conservation efforts and sustainable tourism practices. Whether you’re seeking the luxury of a secluded lodge or the eco-consciousness of a sustainable camp, Malawi’s accommodations enrich your safari experience while respecting this exceptional destination’s natural beauty and biodiversity.

Mvuu Lodge, Liwonde
Mvuu Lodge, Liwonde
Kuthengo, Liwonde
Kuthengo, Liwonde

A Malawi Safari for Every Traveller

Malawi’s vast array of safari experiences and diverse accommodation options make it an appealing destination for all travellers. Malawi has something special whether you’re a family looking for an educational adventure, a solo traveller seeking solitude and discovery, or a couple on a romantic getaway.

Families: Safaris in Malawi are an incredible way to bond over shared experiences and discoveries. Many lodges and camps cater to families with children, offering family-friendly accommodations and activities designed to educate and entertain guests of all ages. Educational game drives, cultural visits to local communities, and wildlife conservation talks can inspire young minds, making Malawi a fantastic choice for a family holiday combining adventure and learning.

Example Family Accommodation: Mvuu Camp in Liwonde National Park offers family units and a range of activities suitable for children, making wildlife viewing accessible and engaging for the younger guests.

Solo Travellers: Malawi offers a safe and welcoming environment for exploring independently and connecting with nature and local cultures. Solo travellers can join group safaris, which provide opportunities to meet like-minded adventurers or opt for private tours for a more personalised experience. Malawi’s warm hospitality ensures solo visitors feel at home, whether staying in a secluded eco-camp or partaking in community tours.

Honeymooners: Malawi’s stunning landscapes and secluded lodges offer the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway. Honeymooners can enjoy private dinners under the stars, sunset boat safaris, and intimate accommodations that provide privacy and spectacular views. The tranquil setting allows couples to unwind and enjoy each other’s company in nature’s most beautiful surroundings.

Example Lodge for Honeymooners: Chelinda Lodge in Nyika National Park provides a unique highland retreat with cosy log cabins and private fireplaces. It is ideal for romantic evenings after a day of exploring the vast plateaus.

Adventure Seekers: Malawi’s varied landscapes offer thrilling activities beyond the traditional game drive for those craving adventure. Mountain biking through the hills of Nyika, hiking to remote waterfalls, or kayaking on Lake Malawi are just a few of the activities that can elevate the safari experience for adventure enthusiasts.

Example Camp for Adventure Seekers: Mumbo Island Camp offers an array of water-based activities, including kayaking and snorkelling in the clear waters of Lake Malawi, perfect for those looking to add a bit of adventure to their safari.

Malawi’s appeal as a diverse safari destination lies in its ability to provide unique experiences tailored to the needs and interests of every traveller. From the depths of its national parks to the heights of its plateaus, Malawi invites visitors to explore its natural beauty and cultural richness, ensuring a memorable journey for all who venture here.

Couple on their honeymoon, Mkulumadzi, Liwonde

How Long Do I Need to Take a Malawi Safari?

Planning the ideal duration for a safari in Malawi involves considering several factors, including the diversity of experiences you wish to enjoy, travel times between destinations, and the depth of engagement you desire with each location. Malawi offers a rich tapestry of landscapes and wildlife, making it tempting to extend your stay to absorb as much as possible. Here are some considerations and recommendations to help you decide how long to spend on your Malawi safari adventure.

Short Stay (7 Days)

A shorter trip is perfect for those with limited time or who are combining their visit to Malawi with other destinations in Southern or East Africa. Focusing on one or two parks, such as Liwonde National Park for its riverine landscapes and wildlife or Majete Wildlife Reserve for the Big Five, can offer a fulfilling safari experience. These trips often concentrate on game drives and possibly a boat safari, offering a snapshot of Malawi’s natural beauty.

Medium Stay (14 Days)

This duration allows for a more relaxed pace and the opportunity to explore three or more different environments. You could combine the lush, wildlife-rich settings of Liwonde and Majete with the unique landscapes of the Nyika Plateau, offering a chance to experience Malawi’s varied ecosystems. Including cultural visits or a day or two relaxing by Lake Malawi can add another dimension to your safari experience.

Long Stay (21 Days)

An extended trip is advisable for those who wish to immerse themselves in Malawi’s wonders fully. This allows for a deeper exploration of each park, participation in a wider range of activities (such as walking safaris, community visits, and conservation projects), and time to absorb the beauty and tranquillity of the natural surroundings. An extended stay also offers the flexibility to venture into less-visited areas, such as the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, and to enjoy leisure activities at Lake Malawi.

Factors to Consider:

  • Travel Time: Internal travel can be time-consuming, so account for travel days between parks when planning your itinerary.
  • Season: The time of year may influence the duration of your stay; for instance, during the dry season, wildlife viewing is generally more concentrated, possibly requiring less time in each park.
  • Interests: If your interests extend beyond game drives to birdwatching, hiking, or cultural experiences, consider allocating more time to each location.

Recommended Approach: Many travellers find a stay of 14-21 days to be a sweet spot. This duration offers a balanced experience that captures the essence of Malawi’s safari offerings without feeling rushed. It allows for exploring multiple parks and various activities, providing a comprehensive and enriching safari experience.

Lion, Majete
Lion, Majete

Budget: What Does a Malawi Safari Cost?

A safari in Malawi can vary significantly in cost, influenced by several key factors, including the time of year, the choice of accommodation, the mode of transportation between parks, and the types of activities included in your itinerary. Understanding these factors can help you budget effectively for your trip, ensuring a memorable experience that aligns with your financial considerations.

Time of Year

The season can impact safari costs, with the dry season (May to October) being the peak period for wildlife viewing. Due to increased demand, prices for lodges and safari tours may be higher during this time.

Conversely, visiting during the wet season (November to April) might offer lower rates, although some areas may be less accessible and wildlife viewing can be more challenging.

Level of Accommodation 

As discussed earlier, accommodation options in Malawi range from exclusive lodges to eco-friendly camps. Luxury lodges, offering exclusive amenities and services, are at the higher end of the budget spectrum.

Mid-range accommodations provide a comfortable yet more affordable alternative, while eco-friendly camps can offer a unique experience at a lower cost. The choice of accommodation is a significant factor in the overall cost of your safari.

Exclusive Lodges and Camps: Prices can range from $400 to over $700 per person per night, including meals, game drives, and other activities.

Mid-Range Options: Rates may vary from $250 to $400 per person per night, typically covering meals and activities.

Eco-Friendly Camps: These can cost between $150 and $300 per person per night, depending on the level of comfort and services provided.


Your choice between driving or flying between destinations also affects costs. Self-driving might be more economical, but navigating local roads and conditions requires comfort. Flying, whether on commercial flights or chartered planes to remote airstrips, offers convenience and time-saving but at a higher price. Consider the transfers to and from airports or lodges, as these can add to the cost.

Safari Activities

The types of activities you choose can influence the overall cost. Standard game drives might be included in the accommodation price, but additional activities like boat safaris, walking safaris, cultural tours, or special conservation experiences may incur extra charges.

Budgeting Tips:

  • Early Planning: Booking your trip well in advance can secure better rates, especially for lodges and flights.
  • Travel as a Group: Group rates for accommodations and activities can offer savings compared to individual pricing.
  • Consider Package Deals: Some tour operators offer safari packages that include accommodations, transportation, and activities at a bundled price, which can be more cost-effective than booking separately.
Elephants, Majete Wildlife Reserve
Elephants, Majete Wildlife Reserve

Preparation and What to Pack for Your Malawi Safari

Going on a safari in Malawi requires thorough preparation, from understanding the latest travel requirements to packing appropriately for your adventure. Here are updated guidelines covering visa requirements, health advisories, and a checklist of what to pack to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.

Travel Requirements

As of 7 February 2024, Malawi has lifted the visa requirements for nationals of 79 countries, including the UK, USA, France, Italy, and Germany, allowing visa-free entry. This significant change makes accessing Malawi easier for many travellers seeking to explore its natural beauty and wildlife.

Nationals of countries not on the visa-exempt list are still required to obtain a visa. Malawi has introduced an e-visa system, facilitating the application process online. Travellers needing a visa are strongly encouraged to apply for their e-visa to streamline their entry into the country.

Checking the most current visa and entry requirements before your travel is crucial, as policies can change. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date from Malawi and has at least two blank pages.

Health and Safety Tips:

Vaccinations: Consult with a travel medicine specialist or your doctor well before your trip to ensure your vaccinations are current. It’s essential to have protection against hepatitis A and typhoid and to ensure your routine vaccinations are current. Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission.

Malaria: Malawi is a malaria-endemic area. Prophylactic medication, the use of insect repellent, and sleeping under mosquito nets are recommended to prevent malaria.

Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical treatment and evacuation is highly recommended. Ensure that your policy covers all safari activities.

General Safety: While Malawi is generally welcoming and safe for tourists, practising common sense safety measures, such as safeguarding valuables and being cautious in unfamiliar areas, especially at night, is advisable.

What to Pack

A thoughtful packing list enhances the safari experience, ensuring you’re prepared for various activities and weather conditions:


  • Light, breathable fabrics in neutral colours like khaki, brown, and green
  • Long-sleeved shirts and trousers for protection against the sun and insects
  • A fleece or sweater for cool mornings and evenings
  • Waterproof jacket for the rainy season
  • Sturdy walking shoes or boots
  • Hat, sunglasses, and a scarf or bandana

Essential Gear:

  • Sunscreen with high SPF and lip balm
  • Insect repellent with DEET
  • Personal medical kit
  • Binoculars and camera equipment
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Reusable water bottle

Travel Documents:

  • Passport with at least six months validity beyond your stay
  • Travel insurance documentation
  • Vaccination certificates, particularly for yellow fever
  • E-visa confirmation (for nationalities that require a visa)
  • Cash and cards for personal expenses

Additional Tips

  • Respect local customs and dress modestly, especially when visiting communities.
  • Electrical sockets in Malawi typically use the British-style three-pin plug, so a universal travel adapter is recommended.

Following these updated guidelines and packing accordingly will make you well on your way to a memorable Malawi safari. With peace of mind, you’ll be ready to explore the unparalleled beauty and wildlife diversity of the Warm Heart of Africa.

Safari goers in Liwonde National Park
Safari goers in Liwonde National Park

Embark on Your Malawi Safari Adventure

As we end this guide to safaris in Malawi, it’s clear that this captivating country has something for everyone. With its stunning national parks and diverse cultures, Malawi promises adventure, peace, and memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re excited about spotting the Big Five, eager to explore its birdwatcher’s paradise, or want to take in the beauty and tranquillity of the African wilderness, Malawi welcomes you with open arms.

The recent ease in visa requirements for nationals of 79 countries, including the UK, USA, France, Italy, and Germany, makes now an opportune time to consider Malawi for your next safari adventure. With its commitment to conservation, community involvement, and sustainable tourism, a safari in Malawi is not just a journey through nature but a step towards supporting sustainable travel and wildlife preservation.

As you prepare for your journey, remember to check the latest travel advisories, ensure your health and safety preparations are thorough, and pack thoughtfully for the experiences ahead. Malawi’s diverse accommodations, from luxury lodges to eco-friendly camps, ensure your stay is comfortable, memorable, and aligned with your travel values.

Safari Awaits!

Are you ready to embark on a safari adventure that transcends the ordinary? Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa, awaits with its unmatched beauty, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage. Start planning your journey today and experience the magic of a Malawi safari for yourself. Whether you’re seeking solitude, adventure, or a family getaway, Malawi has something special for you. 

Contact us, explore our inspiring itineraries and recommended lodges and experiences, and take the first step towards an unforgettable African safari adventure. Malawi is not just a destination; it’s a journey into the heart of Africa’s soul.

Want to learn more about safari in Malawi?

Malawi Safari FAQs

What is the best time to visit Malawi for a safari?

The best time to visit Malawi for wildlife viewing is during the dry season, which runs from May to October. During this period, vegetation is thinner and animals are more likely to be spotted around water sources, making wildlife viewing easier.

Which are the top safari destinations in Malawi?

Liwonde National Park: Known as one of the best places for wildlife viewing, Liwonde is home to a significant population of elephants, hippos, and various bird species. It also offers the chance to see the endangered black rhino.

Nyika National Park: Situated in the northern highlands, Nyika is famous for its rolling grasslands and is ideal for seeing antelopes, zebras, and a rich array of birdlife. The park’s elevation makes it a good spot for hiking and mountain biking.

Majete Wildlife Reserve: A success story in conservation, Majete has been restocked with wildlife over the past decades and now boasts the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos.

What kind of accommodations can I expect on a Malawi safari?

Accommodations in Malawi range from exclusive lodges and tented camps to more rustic chalets and camping sites. Many lodges offer amenities like swimming pools, gourmet dining, and guided safari tours, ensuring comfort amidst the wilderness.

What activities can I enjoy on a Malawi safari besides game drives?

Boat safaris: These are especially good in Liwonde National Park and along the Shire River, where you can see crocodiles, hippos, and a variety of water birds.

Walking safaris: Offered in several parks, these provide a more ground-level view of the ecosystem and a chance to track animals on foot.

Cultural tours: Many safari trips include opportunities to visit local villages and learn about the Malawian way of life, enhancing the cultural richness of your trip.

About the author

Originally from The Netherlands, Lotte has always been deeply connected with Africa. With over two decades of experience as a luxury travel consultant, she established a successful travel agency, 'Safari Design.' Africa soon became her second home, and in March 2020, she followed her heart to beautiful Malawi and married Crafted Africa founder Mike Varndell. Lotte specialises in luxury safaris and dive adventures. She has also explored many of South Africa's Winelands and Cape Town's vineyards, allowing her to create personalised wine and dining experiences for her clients.

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