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Entering Malawi by Road
There are road routes into Malawi from Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. Assume that border posts will be closed from about 18.00hrs and reopen at 07.00hrs. Visitors requiring a visa may find this difficult to obtain at border posts and are advised to obtain the documentation in advance. Requirements for vehicle documentation should be checked before travelling. As of March 2016, the following are the requirements for a vehicle to enter Malawi:
- Third Party Insurance - obtained at the border at a cost of MK21,000.00
- Temporary Importation - obtained at the border at a cost of MK10,000.00
- Vehicle Registration Certificate
- If the vehicle is not owned by the driver, a letter of authorisation form the owner or car rental company is required.
Duty FreeInternational travellers over the age of 18 may import, duty free: 200 cigarettes or 225gm of tobacco; 1 litre of spirits; 1 litre of beer; 1 litre of wine; plus a "reasonable" quantity of consumable goods to meet the traveller’s immediate need while in Malawi.Diplomatic Missions around the world.Visas for the majority of nationalities can be obtained on arrival in Malawi (excluding those specified below as having to obtain them in advance). Although the process at the ports of entry is currently time-consuming, even travellers arriving unaware of the new requirements armed only with their passports are having visa applications processed on arrival and are successfully entering the country.However, current official advice to avoid unnecessary inconveniences is to obtain a Malawi visa in advance of travel from the nearest Malawi Diplomatic Mission. For visas to be obtained on arrival it is also preferable, if possible, to take application forms (click here to download) and the items detailed in the requirements below, plus the requisite visa fee in US$ cash:
- Valid passport for not less than six months
- Two passport photos
- Covering letter (giving full details of the planned trip and written by the travellers themselves or by their tour operator if one has been used)
- Invitation letter (excludes tourists)
- Air ticket/Itinerary
- Confirmed Hotel booking
- Three months latest bank statements
Malawi is a long, narrow country situated in the southern part of the East African Rift Valley and lying between 9 and 17 degrees south of the equator. Its area is over 118000 km2 of which one fifth is taken up by Lake Malawi. It is land-locked, cradled by Mozambique in the east, south and southwest, with Zambia to the west and Tanzania to the north/north-east. Lake Malawi is Africa’s third largest lake and the world’s ninth largest. Besides the magnificent Lake, Malawi offers visitors five National Parks and several smaller wildlife parks. Also available are: modern, comfortable hotels; varied recreational facilities and magnificent scenery including high mountain plateaus throughout the country.
While Chichewa is the national language and Chitumbuka widely spoken in the Northern Region, English is the official language of the country and the language of the commercial sector.
Topography is immensely varied and constitutes the catchment area of the Shire River, which flows from Lake Malawi to the Zambezi River. From a valley floor in the south, almost at sea level, mountains range up to 3000m. The valley and the lower hill country are fertile. The principal cities lie at elevations between 1000 and 1500m.
The country is divided administratively into three regions: Southern – hilly, densely populated, Central – fertile, well-populated plains, Northern – mountainous and sparsely populated. The main commercial and industrial city of Blantyre is in the Southern Region, the capital city of Lilongwe is in the Central Region and Mzuzu serves as the administrative and commercial headquarters of the Northern Region.
There are three seasons. A cool, dry period, May to August, is followed by hot weather (very hot in low-lying regions) during which humidity builds up until the rains commence November/December; the rains peak around the turn of the year and continue intermittently until April. Rainfall varies countrywide from 600mm to 3000mm.
Plan your journey, and know where your destination is.
Do not hesitate to ask for advice or directions, most Malawians speak English well.
When travelling ensures that your luggage is always within view.
Do not be surprised when a Malawian takes your bags, this is to help carry and not a theft.
Always carry a supply of Drinking water.
Always ask the rate or price of the service you require, BEFORE you accept.
Malawi is a high-risk Malaria area. All precautions should be taken when travelling or staying in Malawi.
Take a recognized anti-malarial prophylactic, as recommended, or at least before entering a Malaria area, continue for at least 3 weeks after leaving the area.
If possible, always sleep under a mosquito net.
Dress accordingly from Sunset onwards, Long Pants & Long sleeves.
Use Insect Repellant.
Malaria has a gestation of about 10 days within this time; you have the classic symptoms (Headaches, sore muscles etc.) ensure that you have a Malaria test immediately. These are all freely available in most areas of Malawi. Remember that doctors in Malawi are qualified to treat Malaria.
Bilharzia has been widely reported in Lake Malawi and is contracted when swimming in infected waters on the lakeshore. The use of a towel to dry yourself off, after swimming, will greatly reduce the risk of contracting Bilharzia. It is recommended that all persons travelling to Central Africa take a Bilharzia test 6 months after returning. The treatment of Bilharzia is a simple once-off treatment with no side effects.