Sunset  Dhow Cruise  Lake  Malawi

Best Time To Visit Malawi

Sunset Dhow Cruise on Lake Malawi

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Malawi has something to offer visitors year-round, but there is some seasonality and better times of year to visit. Broadly speaking the seasons can be defined as follows:

High Season (July-October)

  • These are the peak travel months - it’s dry, which makes for good wildlife viewing in the parks, as animals concentrate around available water sources.
  • This is winter in Malawi and July is usually Malawi’s coldest month. However, the temperatures remain warm, generally in the low 20s in July, and it becomes increasingly hot as the year progresses.
  • A great thing about Malawi is that even peak season is not crowded compared with other destinations.

Mid (or Green) Season (November, March-June)

  • November is quite humid, ahead of the light rains that usually arrive mid-month. It’s also normally the hottest month, with daytime temperatures into the low 30s. Whilst some rainfall is likely, it is rarely persistent and can bring some cool relief, so November is still worth considering.
  • From March onwards is a beautiful time to visit Malawi – lush and green, with lots of colourful migrant birds around.
  • By May-June the rains are over completely. Although it becomes cooler at night, days are sunny and warm and it’s a good time to travel to take advantage of slightly lower rates, ahead of the start of the peak season.

Low Season (December-February)

  • The heaviest rainfall is during these months, particularly during January and February, when some lodges close for a few weeks.
  • This period brings impressive storms and it’s dramatic to watch the lightning lighting up the sky over Lake Malawi.
  • The birding can be great at this time of year and it’s the best time to see the orchids in Nyika.


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When to go to Malawi

Find out the best time to visit Malawi with our month by month guide.

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  • Mixed
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January

January is a good time for bird watchers, migratory birds from the Northern Hemisphere flock to Malawi's National Parks. The rains are in full flow with impressive thunderstorms lighting the sky across the country regularly - many lodges around the shores of Lake Malawi will be closed during this time.

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February

Rain continues to pour regularly in February. The bird watching is incredible particularly in the high altitude Nyika National Park with many flowers blooming carpeting the lower plateaus.

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March

In March the weather is still somewhat unsettled with regular rains, these diminish as the month goes on. Birders will be in paradise, young birds are spreading their wings for the first time preparing for their epic journey back to the Northern Hemisphere.

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April

Rains begin to subside, the sun starts to shine and temperatures increase. Wildlife viewing is good, observers can watch animals emerge across Liwonde National Park. In particular antelopes are in rut and visitors to Malawi's National Parks can experience incredible clashes between rival males.

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May

Days become sunnier and cooler during May. Wildlife viewing is at its best due to less vegetation and the animals gathering together around waterholes.

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June

June days are long and sunny, but it's Malawi's winter and the temperatures drop significantly at this time of year. The evenings and mornings are very cold in the highland regions, with log fires lit. The dry season means animals congregate around the Shire River in Liwonde National Park for easier access to water and rich green vegetation - large numbers of elephants can be present at this time of year due to dwindling water levels.

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July

July is a perfect time to visit Malawi, skies are clear there are less mosquitoes and there's virtually no rain. Although its high season, most of the National Parks won't be crowded despite the spectacular sightings of larger elephant herds - often reaching into the hundreds!

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August

In August the weather warms, with daytime peak temperatures averaging around 30°C, whilst night time averages rise to 10°C. If you want to experience large wildlife herds, this is the time of year to visit. Water is diminishing and spaces at watering holes are becoming limited leading to increasing tensions between the animals. It's an amazing time to enjoy the delights of Lake Malawi's azure waters, with temperatures perfect for watersports or relaxing in the sun lakeside.

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September

Night time temperatures rise rapidly, whilst daytime averages remain in the mid 20°Cs. With clear skies and dry vegetation concentrations of animals are still great but starting to dwindle in comparison to July and August. Lake Malawi is popular this time of year, the increased wind conditions make it perfect for an afternoon sail.

  • Lake of Stars Malawi Art Festival takes place from the 27-29 September 2019, featuring music acts from across Africa and the UK.
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October

October is a humid month, temperatures regularly rise above 40°C and night times are increasingly warm. If you want to witness the world's largest antelope, the eland, can often be seen as they start regrouping for their breeding season - with herds reaching into the hundreds it makes for an awe inspiring sight.

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November

The green season, November witnesses the first few storms of the rainy season arriving. It marks the arrival of the many migratory birds from the Northern Hemisphere.

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December

In December the rains become more regular, with thunderstorms occurring every few days. With lush green scenery animals can be difficult to see because of the thick vegetation and the abundance of water. But birders will have an amazing time witnessing the incoming flurry of migratory birds.

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Liwonde National Park Hippos

Natural highlights calendar

There are a few natural highlights that usually take place during certain months:

January to March: Over 200 species of orchid can be found blooming across the grasslands of Nyika National Park. Many migrant birds arrive to escape colder climates further north.

April: Wildlife is quite widely dispersed within the parks, with the landscape being lush and green, following the peak rains. This green season is a lovely time of year, with everything feeling fresh and alive with activity; many antelope species have recently given birth, so there are lots of young around.


Erongo Birding Rosy Faced Lovebirds

May: In Liwonde National Park, the herds of dispersed elephant slowly start to return to the areas along the Shire River, as other temporary water sources start to dry up. Impala males begin to rut, competing over females ahead of the mating season in late May/early June.

June to July: Lillian’s Lovebirds come together in large flocks of hundreds from June through to August and Liwonde is one of the best places to witness this. This coincides with the flowering of the candelabra tree, which the birds feed on. Elephant herds can also number into the hundreds at this time. Crocodile mating takes place.


Colourful Fish In Lake Malawi

August to September: Huge swarms of adult lake flies, which look like dense clouds of smoke, can be witnessed over Lake Malawi. Their larvae live on the bottom of the lake, where they feed, before they pupate, float to the surface and hatch in giant swarms. The swarms in turn attract an abundance of fish and birds. When the winds blow them to the shore, people catch them and make a deep-fried, burger-like, lake fly patty, which is a local delicacy.

October – November: The world’s largest antelope, the eland, can be seen in herds, numbering in the hundreds on the Nyika Plateau, which marks the start of breeding season. This is a special sight on the rolling grassland hills. The drier landscape and limited water sources make wildlife viewing easier.

December: Crocodile hatchlings can be seen and heard. Their high-pitched chirping calls alert their mother that incubation is over. She breaks open the sand-covered chamber and assists them out of their shells by rolling the eggs between her tongue and palate, before delicately carrying them to the water’s edge in her mouth.

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  • Marc

    Marc

    Malawi Specialist

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    Peter

    Malawi Specialist

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01768 603 715