Malawi — Visas and Vaccinations
Visitors from the US, Canada, most European Union nations, and a number of other countries may enter Malawi on a visitor’s permit for 30 days, extendable twice. US citizens will need a passport valid for more than 90 days, adequate funds and proof of a return ticket. The fee is only US $16.
Health and Safety
All routine vaccinations should be kept up to date. The main health risks in Malawi are malaria and travelers’ diarrhea. Malaria is endemic, and travelers are strongly advised to take anti-malarial medications and use insect spray and mosquito nets. Bilharzia is prevalent in most lakes and rivers, with the US government advising against swimming in fresh water. HIV/AIDS is also endemic in the population. Tap water should be avoided, raw fruit should be washed before eating and only hot, well-cooked foods should be consumed. Rabies is a common issue and vaccinations before your trip are highly recommended. If you are bitten by a street dog, monkey or other animal, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Healthcare facilities in Malawi hospitals are far below international standards, and communication in English may be difficult. Those taking regular prescriptions should bring their own supply as Western medicine is uncommon. Comprehensive health insurance including a Medivac add-on is strongly advised, with South Africa the nearest country with advanced facilities. If you’re planning to hike or trek, remember that Malawi is home to deadly snakes, poisonous spiders and other insects, although snakes in general are more afraid of humans than vice versa.
Provided common sense is used to protect your valuables, you should find Malawi a relatively safe county. However, pickpocketing, especially in bars and nightclubs, and street attacks at night do occur. Avoid walking alone at night and carrying more cash than you need. Take care on crowded public transportation, in markets and popular tourist areas. Car-jackings have been reported so always keep your doors and windows locked to avoid trouble. Night driving is not advised as roads are generally unlit.