What is the weather like?
The weather in Zambia and Malawi is very pleasant with warm sunny weather all year round. The rainy season lasts from November-March/April, with sporadic rain storms on the season shoulder and peak rainfall between mid-December and February. It’s warm and humid, although it will cool down with the rainfall. Locals refer this time of year as the emerald season, as the landscape erupts into verdant lush green growth. After April, it starts to cool down and the landscape slowly morphs into mature bush turning familiar savannah yellow and brown. June, July and August are the coldest months, especially in the early mornings and evenings. In September, it starts warming up and October is the hottest month building up to the start of the rains.
January/February/March – peak rainy season, with dry days. Hot and humid with temperatures in high 80s to 100s.
April/May – cooling down and drying up! Still lovely and warm, but the nights will be cooler about 60* and the days are warm (in the 80s). Rainfall is infrequent.
June/July/August – Malawian and Zambian winter, it can be cold especially at night although it is unusual for the temperature to drop below 50. There is unlikely to be any rain.
September – the days are warming up and humidity is increasing.
October – usually the hottest and most humid with temperatures reaching 100+
November/December – The start of the rainy season, with intermittent thunderstorms and warm and humid.
What shall I bring with me?
This list is a guideline and should be adapted based your own individual safari. There a few key points, most importantly – keep it simple. If you are taking any internal flights on small aircrafts there is a strict 15kg/33lb weight limit in soft sided bags – packing smart is the way to go! This is easy because most places will wash laundry so you only need a few days’ worth of clothes. Packing smart means using layers, and having multi-use clothes. Think trousers with zip off legs, or using layers to adapt to varying temperatures. Color wise it is best to stick to green, khaki and tan and avoid camouflage, white, dark blue and black. Camouflage is reserved for military personnel, while dark blue and black can attract some biting insects. White stands out brightly in the dusty savannah. Often natural fibers are more comfortable in the heat (e.g. light cotton, linen, bamboo) and comfortable clothes are always recommended! Keep in mind that Zambia and Malawi are quite conservative so very short shorts and skirts are not advisable outside of the main tourist resorts.
- 1 or 2 pairs of pants – for evenings, cool mornings and walking safaris.
- 2 pairs of shorts or skirts
- short sleeve and long sleeved shirts
- thin sweater or cardigan
- warm jacket/fleece for game drives on open safari vehicles
- enough underwear and socks for a few days
- sandals/flip flops
- tennis shoes (unless you are going on an arduous hike, tennis shoes are sufficient for walking safaris)
- River shoes like Teva or chacos, for any water based activities like white water rafting or canoeing
- Wide brimmed hat or cap
- Swim wear
- Use travel size containers
- Insect repellent
- High quality sunscreen
- Malaria medication
- Prescription medication
- Socket adapter (for UK/South African sockets)
- Extension cable to charge your devices
- Spare rechargeable battery for your camera
- Battery pack to charge devices
- In the rainy season a light rain jacket
- Light weight sarong – can be used as sun coverup, shade, swimming towel, scarf and even damp can create your personal air conditioning.
How safe is it to travel within Zambia and Malawi?
Both Malawi and Zambia are very safe countries to visit and travel within. As in all countries, there are some instances of petty crime so you should use your usual street sense to stay safe. This includes not flashing lots of cash or valuables around, keep only a few days cash in your main wallet. Most rooms will come with safes or have the option of keeping your valuables in a safe in the main office.
What health precautions do I need to take?
For health advice, we recommend talking to a travel clinic or your doctor for the latest recommendations on vaccinations before you arrive and medications to take while you are here. All camps will have first aid kits and plans for medical emergencies. Please ensure you bring enough of your usual prescription medicine for your whole journey.
Please always take long sleeved shirts and pants to avoid mosquito bites and spray with mosquito repellent.
We recommend exploring the CDC website for the latest travel advice
What is the electricity supply like?
Both Zambia and Malawi use 240 Volts so check that your appliances are compatible. Most laptops, cameras, phones and tablets are chargeable at 240 volts. Please keep in mind that some camps are remote and electricity is supplied via generator or solar panels and will have limited sockets. The most common socket is the 3-pin square UK plug, but some lodges will use the 3-pin round South African sockets. Bring travel battery packs to maximize your device battery life.
How do I choose where to go and what to do?
The best way to decide on your safari is to determine your budget and length of stay and preferred activities. Then contact us with your ideas, preferences and questions and we will help you find your ideal itinerary.
Both Malawi and Zambia require USA and Canada passport holders will to purchase visas.
Zambian tourist visas cost $50 and Malawi tourist visas cost $75 per person for single entry, unless you hold a passport from a visa exempt country.
The latest Zambian Visa information can be found at https://www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=89&Itemid=114
And e-visa information at: https://eservices.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm/#/home
Malawi Visa information can be found at https://www.immigration.gov.mw/visa/
Traveling with children
How connected can I be?
Many of the camps’ locations are remote and do not have access to cellular coverage or data. One of the attractions of safari is the ability to unplug and reconnect with nature. However, if it is imperative that you stay connected we can arrange that you stay in camps that provide Wi-Fi or have cellular coverage. Check with your cell phone supplier on roaming costs as you can purchase a local SIM card and top up with ‘pay as you go’ for phone and data usage.
Geography: maps of locations
Currency & credit cards
Most of your trip will be fully inclusive, although this does not include souvenirs, tips and additional activities. Many places will exchange or accept US$ cash. Credit card machines are becoming more ubiquitous and are often found in larger towns and cities. Mastercard and Visa are the most reliable credit and debit cards for travel. We wouldn’t recommend travelers’ checks as they are no longer in common use.
Will I definitely see a lion? Elephant? Thornicroft giraffe?
Zambia and Malawi have beautiful wilderness areas and you will see game – especially the more common antelope and zebras. Predators are less common, although experienced guides will know where they are most likely to be. Please remember that they are wild animals while the guides are excellent, animals are inherently unpredictable! If there is a species that you are very keen to see, let us know and we will do our best to match the National Park to your requirement. For example, the Thornicroft giraffe is endemic to South Luangwa National Park.
What’s a typical day on safari?
The best time to observe game animals is in the early morning and late afternoon/evening. This is when they are most active and have yet to settle down during the heat of the day. Your day will reflect this rhythm with a light snack at sunrise before climbing into an open top safari vehicle or boat to observe the animals starting their day. Depending on the game activity, your guide will find a scenic spot to stretch your legs out of the vehicle and refresh with tea, coffee and cake. You’ll head back to the camp mid-morning to relax in your room or common areas. You can take a book and your binoculars to the camp’s deck to see what animals may walk by, or dip in the pool to cool down. A delicious lunch will be served after which you can retire for a well-earned siesta during the heat of the day. Guests will congregate mid-afternoon for a tea and cake and then head out on their chosen afternoon activity. The knowledgeable guides will share their understanding of the ecosystem, from the dung beetle to the leopard. They’ll find a scenic spot to watch an iconic African sunset with a sundowner and prepare for the night drive. Following the light of the spotlight will open up the secrets of the night – finding a pride of lions starting their hunt or hyenas searching for carrion, or watching smaller nocturnal animals out on the prowl. Return to camp and swap stories with other guests with a drink at the bar and proceed to a mouthwatering supper served under the stars. Complete your day around the camp fire listening to tales and night sounds before sinking into a beautiful comfortable bed to dream about tomorrow’s adventures.