Malawi Travel Guide, Gap Year Volunteering and Tours
If you are looking for an authentic African experience then we highly recommend visiting Malawi. This country is an incredible destination with very friendly local people which will be very open to meeting and talking to you. Search travel and gap year ideas in Malawi today.
Malawi Travel Ideas, Gap Year Programs & Experiences
Find inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to go travelling, backpacking or take a gap year in Malawi.
Malawi Travel Guide
- Population: 13,014,000 (approx)
- Area: 94,080km²
- Currency: Malawian kwacha (MWK)
- Capital: Lilongwe
- Language: English, Chichewa + local languages
- Dialing Code: +265
- Accommodation: Malawi receives thousands of tourists every year and infrastructure is quite good on the ground in terms of accommodation. You will find good quality hotels in the large cities like Blantyre and Lilongwe, there are rooms for all budgets from the budget backpacker to the luxury traveler. There are also traditional safari lodges in the Game Reserves close to where the wildlife live
How to Get to Malawi
- You can get to Malawi fairly easy by plane, land and boat
- You can fly into Malawi from places like South Africa, Ethiopia and Nairobi - most arrive into the international airport in Lilongwe. You can also catch internal flights in Malawi from places like Lilongwe to Blantyre
- If you are looking to see a more rural area of the country you can cross by ferry from Likoma Island and Metangula in Mozambique
- Trains no longer operate so if you are looking to cross from a country nearby you will need to do this by bus
- You can also get to Malawi by road from Tanzania, Zambia or Mozambique, an easy way to experience this region of the world is on an adventure overland tour in Africa
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Malawi is a warm destination has a tropical climate with its dry season lasting from April until October. The dry season brings with it unbearable heat but the conditions are less oppressive from May to July although this does mean wildlife is less frequently spotted around the visible watering holes of the national parks. Temperatures vary between the highlands and lowlands with high humidity in the lowland regions and night time temperatures below freezing point in the highlands
Best Places to Visit in Malawi
- Lilongwe - In Lilongwe you can expect new buildings and entertainment like cinemas, cafes, new shops, restaurants.
- Cape Maclear
- Likoma and Chisumulu Islands
- Liwonde National Park
- Ntchisi Forest Reserve
- Majete Wildlife Park
- Mount Mulanje
- Nyika National Park
- Zomba Plateau
- Lake Malawi
Travelling in Malawi
When travelling indpendently in Malawi you are probably sure to pass by Lilongwe, this is a popular place to stop in where there are famous colourful tree's and a scenic old town. Malawi also hosts the Lake of Stars festival where dj's and musicians come from all over the world to play - this is one of the most unique music events in the world.
Malawi Gap Year
View exciting and life changing gap year programs in Malawi . Help make a difference in Malawi on a gap year and see more of this country by signing up for a program through our website, this a beautiful destination with friendly people and stunning scenery. We have gap year programs for students, graduates, career breaks but most trips are open to everyone including most Nationalities. Malawi is an up and coming gap year destination and for advice about backpacking to this destination contact us. You can also view all our opportunities in this region by going to our Africa gap year page.
Top Reasons to Book a Tour of Malawi
- Get an experienced guide
- See the best places
- Go off the beaten track to see locations difficult to reach
- Eat at the best local restaurants
- Enjoy a stress free journey
- Get an authentic local experience
Malawi Tours for Solo Travellers
Our tours are perfect if you are travelling solo and would like to meet other people and travel in a group. You will get to meet other international travellers and get taken to the best locations in the country with an experienced guide. Most of our tours specifically cater for the 18-39 age group and are a really popular option due to meeting other people, getting day-to-day activities, hotel check-ins, selected meals, accommodation and also transport/guides included in the price. Don't worry if you are slightly older, most tours accept all ages.
Malawi Budget Tours
We have a selection of tours for all budgets, so whether you are looking to explore on the cheap or you have a bit more money to spend you will be able to find a trip to match your interests. Our website features lots of cheap tours allowing you to discover the highlights of the country and not break the bank.
Malawi Wildlife Tours
One of the most popular reasons to visit is to see exotic wildlife. These trips are incredible! You will get to see exotic wild animals and get photos and memories to last a memory.
Malawi Family Tours
Looking to explore with your family? Our website features specialist tours specifically for families. You will get a safe and structured authentic experience and also get lots of free time to enjoy the experience with your family.
Usually travellers of the same sex will share a twin room, but there is also the option to pay a little extra and get a private room. Accommodation can vary depending on the tour and location. Some tours also include homestays which allow for a facsinating cultural exchange.
Typical group sizes are around 10-18 travellers with an average of 12 but this can vary between the tour and operator.
On most tours you will travel overland in a private small tour van.
How to Book
Search our featured trips above or contact us for specific advice.
Malawi Tour Reviews
If you have ever joined a tour and would like to review or share your experience please contact us.
"On my overland tour in Africa with Oasis Overland we stopped off in Malawi. This country provided more time for relaxing on the sandy shores of Lake Malawi, and chances to go on village tours, hikes, explore villages, riding, boat rides out on the lake and the perfect place to get your wooden souvenirs (whether for you, or as a gift for someone else is up to you!)." - Katie, UK
Top Reasons to Volunteer in Malawi
By applying you will be able to make a difference and also get one of the most rewarding experiences of your life:
- For such a small country there are so many different areas you can help
- This country is definately off the beaten track compared to more touristy destinations in Africa, but this means you get a more real and authentic experience
- Local people are extremely friendly and warm, they have been through a lot as a nation and it will be a great feeling to give back and help
- Whether you are passionate about helping people or animals, we have short and long term projects to match you interests
Location of Projects
Most programs running in Malawi are based in Lilongwe but there are also placements in more rural regions of the country. You could also combine experiences by visiting neighbouring countries. If you are still researching options you can find more programs on our Africa volunteer directory.
How You Can Help
These are the types of opportunities available to international participants...
Community Development Projects
Volunteer programs in Malawi can included teaching English at community projects and at school, working on childcare projects - all need assistance all year round. People are needed for educational projects, you will be really appreciated by local people and staff. Most schools in Malawi are now open to all children unlike in the past when it was only the rich who could afford it but many are unfunded with basic conditions. As an international volunteer can help to assist and bring relief to classroom situations.
You will be able to help lead English lessons, or play sports and do music lessons, creativity is essential on these volunteer programs. The children will love the chance to be with you and learn from you, its great to see the smile you can put on their face. These are great opportunities to build personally and really help children and communities. Using any ideas you have and putting them to use by leading educational lessons will be really enjoyable and rewarding. We have similar opportunities on our Tanzania volunteer directory.
Medical Volunteer Programs
Rural communities in Malawi are in desperate need of assistance, usually the nearest hospital or clinic is miles away and local lack the transportation to seek help. Outreach teams and organisations arrange clinics which go direct to comunities and perform check ups, minor surgery, advice and also assistance. Usually skilled professionals are encouraged to apply but there are also spots available for general assistants with no medical background. These placements can be an eye opening experience but also extremely rewarding when you get to see the difference you make on the ground.
Building & Construction Programs
A lot of buildings like schools, houses and community centres in Malawi have been built through donations and constructed by international volunteering organisations and you can help further by signing up. Usually these programs are organised by organisations like Habitat for Humanity and are all pre-planned and structured mixing both skilled and un-skilled workers to help in areas of need.
How to Apply
You can find limited free and low cost projects in Malawi by applying with small NGO's but then some costs be incured like flights, transport, accommodation and meals. Most programs are organised by large voluntary organisations, they offer packages which include can include:
- Airport pick-up and transfer to base
- All food and accommodation
- Training materials and teaching materials
- 24-hour in-country support and a 24-hour emergency phone line
- All pre-departure support and services
Expect local people to be very friendly and remember this is a developing country and lacks the infrastructure of Western countries or even compared to volunteering in South Africa. By joining local organisations and working with other international volunteers you can genuinely make a difference. Everyday will be different and this will be like nothing you have ever done before. If you would like to volunteer in Malawi for free, this is possible, you will need to apply with local NGOs but sometimes they will expect you to fund your own accommodation.
- Accommodation: Expect most volunteer opportunities to be in rural areas though and please be aware that your accommodation will be basic, on some cultural exchange programs you might also be staying with a host family where you will be able to integrate into a family and see how real African people live their lives whilst also eating local food. On other programs you will get to stay in a hotel or hostel accommodation.
- Requirements: For most general positions no previous experience is required when applying to work in Malawi.You will need to be aged 18 and over, be able to speak English and work as part of a team whilst also being able to adapt to new surroundings. This will be an amazing experience but before departing try to read as much as possible about this country, culture and tradition.
- What to Expect: Sometimes working conditions can be rustic and hot - the climate is warm all year round so pack accordingly. This is quite a destination for the adventurous where you will experience the real Africa with poverty and all. If you are looking for another challenge read information about going to volunteer in Zambia. You will get to meet likeminded people from all over the world in Malawi, all there to do good like you. This country may be less touristy than other destinations in Africa but it is also very beautiful, be sure to visit Lake Malawi which is spectacular. The experience of volunteering in Malawi will stay with you forever.
- Health & Safety: Malawi is a very safe destination but always take precautions for example don't drink to excess, try to walk around with someone at night and don't flash valuables in public or attract too much attention to yourself. Food and drink is really tasty but basic, pack Imodium or something to help with diarrhea, sometimes the food in this region can be a shock to your system especially when you first arrive. Try to drink lots of bottle water to avoid dehydration and also buy fresh fruit in local markets which is really cheap. You will find most local people are very friendly, don't think everyone is out to mug you but also be a little cautious if someone is being overly friendly. Pack a sink plug, you might be suprised how useful this is like cleaning clothes to washing your face.
Malawi Volunteer Reviews & Testimonials
Have you ever been on a program in Malwai? Would you like to share your experience and leave a review of your experience? Contact us today.