I will confess that this small article (one of a series written about Safari Costs by African Country) is mostly written with South Africans in mind.
Many people naturally may assume that Malawi – because it is a poor country – must be an inexpensive country to visit on holiday. Unfortunately this is far from the truth.
Very broadly speaking, 7 nights in Malawi at a beach will cost the same as 7 nights in a Mauritius beach resort. And more than a trip to Thailand…
As Malawi – along with nearly all African countries – has taken the approach of building a low density, relatively high price tourism industry. Plus, if you stay at a mix of Safari & Beach lodges then it will be more per night. See our chart below.
Why is this?
All Malawi accommodation is priced in dollars. Which means that generally you pay more than for a similar standard of hotel in South Africa or Namibia. (South Africa and Namibia are priced in their own common rated currencies.)
Whether this is a sensible strategy for Malawi is not for me to say. They are missing out on South Africans coming to visit. (So they don’t know how important this market could be to them, as they have never priced for it.)
So the reality is that South Africa and Namibia do offer a wider range of accommodation for all budgets. From the relatively inexpensive to the ultra-expensive. Whereas Malawi has backpacker & budget options aplenty (which we don’t sell) and only a few good quality lodges – which can be fantastic.
But as a safari destination, Malawi compares favourably to its more expensive neighbours such as Zambia and Botswana…
But what about SADC prices for residents of Southern Africa. Yes many places have these but the reality is that they are not that impressive. (Even when it is priced in Rands, they have simply converted the $ price.)
a) They are often only valid for the low season which is generally January to June
b) They often cannot be combined with long stay specials.
This means that sometimes it is not much less, if at all. Sorry! However, you can assume that you may be able to save 5% off the published rates seen on this website (as a general rule). So if a holiday is $2,500 per person, then we may be able to get that down to say $2,375. But it will never be half price or less!
Typical per night safari prices for a Malawi holiday
That’s the end of the mini-rant. So let’s get down to brass tacks!
Malawi is your classic bush and beach destination so the below chart gives you two options
1) Mix of Safari & Beach
2) Beach only – tends to be lower in mid-range, but fully inclusive in superior
In these estimates we have included private road transfers and we assume 2 people. In some cases, you may need or choose to fly to some destinations which will obviously increase the costs a little.
|Per person per Night||Mid-range||Superior*||Superior with Zambia Safari Camps|
|Low Season||Mix of Safari & Beach||$325 to $450||$375 – $490||$525 to $850|
|Beach only||$190 to $225||$275 – $335|
|High Season||Mix of Safari & Beach||$450 to $525||$525 – $550||$625 to $1000|
|Beach only||$190 to $295||$350 – $495|
So 7 nights in a mid-range beach lodge in Low season could cost you from $1,350 per person ex Lilongwe.
So that would be around R27,000 to R30,000 including flights from Johannesburg at current exchange rates. See below for flight prices.
This is a very similar cost to flying to Mauritius and staying at a mid-range property there…
Low Season is typically Jan to June and Nov to mid December. High Season is July to October. Green Season (March to early May) a little lower than Shoulder Season (mid May & June). Many Lake Malawi hotels and lodges close from January to late March as it is simply to rainy and humid to be pleasant.
Note: The Superior option is not the same as a 4+ or 5 star hotel in Mauritius. But typically it would include all meals and many activities. Some include drinks as well.
Some Sample Holidays
Malawi Holiday Prices: Flight costs from Johannesburg to Lilongwe or Blantyre
The other big cost to factor in is the cost of flying from Johannesburg to Lilongwe. This varies based on demand and how late you book. But currently it ranges from R6,500 to R8,500 per person (which equates to $425 to $550 per person).
Tips for saving money
There is not very much we can do to reduce this nightly range. However the following can ensure that you are at the lower end of the scale
- Try to stay longer at each place so that you can get any long stay offers available
- Consider staying at the end of June to get the tale end of the shoulder season. Or stay early May to get the end of the Green Season
- Look at northern KwaZulu Natal instead to get that ‘sub-tropical’ feeling. Or head to Mauritius!
Other articles on Safari Costs or Malawi
About the Authors – Cedarberg Africa
Cedarberg Africa is a specialist tour operator and safari designer for Southern and East Africa. We offer 16 different countries in Africa. We have been around for 25 years. And we are a family-run company. Given our volume of business, we make our money through specially negotiated rates with the safari camps. So you will get the benefit of an experienced safari company with 1st hand experience. And at a competitive price.