International flights

From Europe there are no direct flights to Malawi, but several companies go to South Africa (Johannesburg) South African Airways (via Johannesburg) has five flights a week into Lilongwe and two into Blantyre, and Ethiopian Airlines (via Addis Ababa) has three flights a week into Lilongwe. Kenya Airways/KLM (via Nairobi) has four flights a week into Lilongwe.

Air Malawi deserves the country, and also serves Harare, Johannesburg and Nairobi.

 

Customs

International travelers over the age of 18 may import the following items duty free: 200 cigarettes or 225 gm of tobacco, 1 liter spirits, 1 liter beer, 1 liter wine and a reasonable quantity of consumer goods to meet the travelers immediate needs.

 

Departure Tax

When leaving Malawi on an International flight a US$30.00 departure tax is levied. A MK100.00, roughly US$1.00 is levied for domestic flights. Vouchers can only be paid for in the airport entrance hall. International departure tax has to be paid only in US$.

 

Currency

The Malawi currency is the Kwacha, abbreviated to MK it is divided into 100 tambala. Due to the high inflation rates the tambalas have nearly disappeared.

Notes are available in K500.00, K200, K100, K50. K20 and K5 notes.

The word Kwacha means 'dawn' while timbala means 'cockerel'.

 

Currency regulations

There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency, which can be brought into the country though it should be declared on arrival to prevent any restriction on the same amount being taken out when departing. For Malawian currency, K200.00 is the current limit for export. A black market exchange rate is available but is illegal. It is advisable to bring either US$ currency avoiding $100.00 notes or the European Euro.

 

Credit Cards

Hotels, restaurants and car hire companies do accept credit cards, but away from Blantyre, Lilongwe and the 'up-market' tourist resorts their use is very limited. Credit cards can also be used to draw cash from certain distributors, and in the main bank branches but the procedure can take a day or two. There is a percentage charged on all credit cards transaction.

 

Communications

The telephone system in Malawi is rather poor and often frustrating but usually in the urban areas it is possible to make international calls. GSM cell phones work in Malawi, even if the country is only partially covered. Cards can be purchased at the airport and the more modern three band phones will connect to the international network.

 

Energy

Supply is based on the 220/240 volts system, using "British type" square bayonet three-point plugs. Electricity is not widely available in most of the tourist destinations. It is advisable to check before departure and to make arrangements with the lodge manager to recharge batteries.

 

Medical

Insurance should be purchased before arriving in the country. Emergency evacuation by air is now possible. It is worth carrying a sterile first aid kit (including syringes) as well as a full supply of medicines as availability in Malawi is not guaranteed.

 

Photographic equipment

In Malawi availability of film. batteries and video tapes is limited and when available it is expensive so it is advisable to bring adequate supplies.

 

Time and daylight hours

Malawi time is Greenwich Mean Time plus two hours, the same Central Africa Time as South Africa. Day light varies by about an hour between winter (May to August) when there are 11-day light hours, and summer (January to March), when here are 12-day light hours.