Want to go to Malawi?
I will confess that this short article (one of a series written about Safari Costs by African Country) is mostly written with South Africans in mind.
Many people naturally assume that Malawi – because it is one of the poorest countries in the world – must be an inexpensive country to visit on holiday. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. So what does a Malawi safari cost then?
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!
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 of per night Malawi safari costs below.
Why is this?
All Malawi accommodation is priced in dollars. This 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. Not a great decision as we try to recover from a Pandemic!)
So the reality is that South Africa and Namibia 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.
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But what about SADC prices for residents (rates for South African Residents) of Southern Africa? Yes, many places have these but the reality is that they are not that impressive, usually only 20% off the normal price. (Even when it is priced in Rands, they have simply converted the $ price.)
a) Plus they are often only valid for the low season which is generally January to June
b) And 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 Malawi safari cost
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.
Malawi Safari Prices are per person per night.
‘* Superior Plus assumes mixing Malawi beach with Zambian safari camps.
|Low Season||Safari & Beach||$325 -$450||$375 -$500||$525 -$850|
|Beach only||$190 -$225||$275 -$335|
|High Season||Safari & Beach||$450 -$525||$525 -$550||$625 -$1000|
|Beach only||$190 -$295||$350 -$495|
So 7 nights in a premier beach lodge in Low season could cost you around $1,400+ 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.) So this is very similar in price 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: On the plus side, the Superior option is not the same as a 4+ or 5 star hotel in Mauritius. But it would typically include all meals and many activities. Some include drinks as well. (This would come in around R35 to R40k per person including flights.)
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 $450 to $650 per person).
Tips for saving money in Malawi
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 just give up and head to Mauritius!
This article was written by Cedarberg Africa
Cedarberg Africa is a specialist tour operator for Southern and East Africa. We focus on upmarket tailormade safaris for discerning and busy people. We make our money on the difference between our trade rates and the rates that are available to you, so that means that effectively all our years of experience and expertise comes free of charge…
Contact us if you’d like a tailor-made safari quote for Malawi.