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Travelling over Land

Malawi has become a very popular staging post for trans-Africa travellers and it is also a very good country in which to begin an African trip. Many tour operators offer packages into and out of Malawi and there are regular coach services from Johannesburg and Harare.

When to visit

Malawi is always beautiful. The cooler months (May to October) are comfortable for travellers from the northern hemisphere, but the lush green summer (November to April) is also a good time to visit if due care is taken to avoid mosquito bites. The May and June months combine the best of both seasons - cooler, still green with great visibility - and are especially good for photography. Be warned that some country roads may become impassable to normal vehicles during heavy rains.

Game viewing is best in the hottest times of the dry season when the animals are forced to visit water sources, but the country is more attractive in the wetter, greener months. Bird watchers enjoy their best sightings in October and November.

Check for school holiday dates, particularly for those in South Africa when more tourists visit Malawi and resorts can become crowded.

Geography

The Great Rift Valley runs across eastern Africa like an ancient scar from the Red Sea in the north to the Zambezi valley in the south. Malawi has two rift lakes - Lake Malawi and Lake Malombe - as well as Lake Chirwa and Lake Chiuta, which lie outside the Rift system.  In all, over 20% of Malawi is covered by water.  The Shire River, the only outlet from Lake Malawi, joins the Zambezi river in Mozambique then to the Indian Ocean.

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Malawi provides plenty of opportunities for many types of activities. The magnificent Lake Malawi is a haven for boat activities and watersports, as well as having some of the best freshwater diving sites in the world. Eight land-based national parks and wildlife reserves offer all type of safaris in a wide variety of natural wilderness environments. The mixed terrain and varied landscapes also provide for excellent trekking and mountain biking opportunities, particularly in the highland areas.