Is it safe to travel Malawi? A lot of people are very hesitant to visit this beautiful country. Blinded? Here’s what you need to know about safety in Malawi!
Malawi is found in South East Africa. It has a population over 16 million people and an area of 118,484 km². It is commonly referred to as the warm heart of Africa because of its exceptionally friendly people who always open their doors to people whom they don’t even know. Lonely planet ranked Malawi the 5th best country to visit in 2014 not just in Africa but in the whole world. Its capital city is Lilongwe and other cities are Blantyre, Mzuzu and Zomba. Lake Malawi is the most popular tourist feature in Malawi however there are other features such Mulanje Mountain, Nyika National park, Kungoni Cultural Centre and the culture of the people themselves.
Malawi is one of the safest places in the world. Crime rate is extremely low and people are very friendly. The country is actually called the warm heart of Africa because of the friendliness of the people. Tourists need not to worry of being hurt in Malawi. The carrying of weapons such as guns and knives is illegal hence it is very rare to have someone hurt.
However, just like any other practical society, there occur instances where people get hurt or they find their belongings stolen. It is therefore important to pay attention to safety cautions from the locals, trip advisors and hotels where one is staying.
Sometimes tourists do not listen to what the locals advise them and bad things happen. For example, Mulanje Mountain which happens to be a popular tourist destination in Malawi is believed to be a home of spirits.
There are therefore places at the mountain where people are not supposed to go. But tourists sometimes do not understand this and they go to those places and sometimes they get lost or they die up there. Science may tell us that spirits do not exist but we cannot run away from the fact that the dangers do exist. It is therefore important to pay attention to the advice of the locals and the tour guides whenever someone is at the mountain.
There have also been several instances where people are killed for their private parts or albinos endangered. It is not clear on what people do with the private parts and the albinos but many people speculate that that it is linked to witchcraft and other beliefs. People sometimes are also lobbed of their property. It’s therefore very important that you pay attention to safety measure. Some of them are as follows
- Always carry with you your most important things such as passports and ATM cards or you can lock them in safe if your hotel has one.
- Locking valuables and luggage away in the car boot while travelling
- Do not leave you luggage unattended
- Always lock your hotel door
- Travel with the only cash you need
- Make cash withdrawals on ATM during day time
- Don’t accepts offers of assistance at ATM and keep your pin numbers secure.
- Report stolen or lost cards immediately.
- Do not travel during the night unless you are in a company of friends and you have a car with you.
- Do not use quite short cuts when you are travelling alone
- Always pay attention to your map even when you have people telling you about places.
- During the night watch out to small animals such as snakes
- Make sure you have been vaccinated for Malaria as Malaria is very common in Malawi.
- Make sure that you have been vaccinated for Bhirhazia if you plan to visit Lake Malawi
- If you are in danger dial 997 and call for help as sometimes the response rate for 997 may not be impressive.
- Ask your hotel manager for advice on ‘safe’ versus ‘unsafe’ local areas.
- Always carry with you your embassy details in case you need to contact them
- When you are using public transport do not allow to travel alone, always make sure that there is also someone in the car.
- Always negotiate for goods when buying in local markets otherwise you may be ripped off. When you mention a price that is too low the seller will not sell you his product so do not feel shy to negotiate.
- When someone has stolen your money do not fight back. It’s always better to lose things than to get hurt.
Traveling to Malawi soon? Get in touch for more travel and safety tips! E-mail mwaona[at]gmail[dot]com for more info!
Mwaona is a local from Malawi staying in Zomba, the former capital city. He is currently pursuing a degree in communication and culture at the University of Malawi. He also teaches History and Geography at Mulunguzi Secondary School in Zomba. Every year, he travels with tourists across the country showing them beautiful places, sharing culture and the beauty of his country. He considers himself adventurous and gregarious.