Month by Month
Chamare Day, August
Wildlife Watching, September
Scuba Diving, November
Lake of Stars Music Festival, October
Mt Mulanje Porters Race, July
Subtropical Malawi starts the year deep in the rainy season; humidity in January and February is well over 80%. Precipitation clears the haze from the air and sees orchids bloom on the Viphya Plateau.
Viphya Orchid Weekend
Among the forests of the Viphya Plateau, Luwawa Forest Lodge has a calendar of annual events that begins with a weekend focusing on the plateau's profuse orchids.
The middle of the November-to-April rainy season. Think carefully about your travel plans: the climate is hot and steamy, rainfall and the risk of malaria are highest, and some reserve roads become impassable.
The end of the wet season. Not a great time for wildlife watching, as animals disappear into the well-watered vegetation, but the last opportunity until September to see migratory birds.
The beginning of the dry season, with mild temperatures before the winter cold hits higher areas. Good walking weather; wildflowers bloom on the Nyika Plateau.
Until August, log fires burn in areas such as Nyika, the Viphya Plateau and Mt Mulanje, with frosts as well as Mulanje's chiperone (low cloud and drizzle). Nationwide temperatures average 17°C to 27°C.
This is the windiest time of year, which also makes it great for sailing. Just bear in mind that some days are a little too gusty; the wind across the lake can blow at up to 50km/h! www.danforthyachting.com
Luwawa International Mountain Bike Race
Running along the ridges of the Viphya Mountains, this tough 50km race is popular with experienced South African riders. Like them, after crossing the finish line you can tackle the three-day wilderness trail down to Lake Malawi.
With humidity around 50% and high temperatures averaging 25°C to 37°C, September and October are the final months of the dry season and a great time to visit.
Vegetation is sparse after four parched months of dry season, making it easier to spot animals in the bush. The thirsty conditions draw predators and prey alike to the water holes and riverbanks of Malawi's great wildlife reserves, Majete, Liwonde and Nkhotakota. www.african-parks.org
Beach towns such as Cape Maclear and Nkhata Bay are bustling with travellers enjoying diving, snorkelling, kayaking, boat trips to feed the fish eagles, and chilling at the lodges. www.aquaafrica.co.uk
The beginning of the rainy season, but falls are certainly not consistent and the rains seem to start later every year, making this a feasible month for beach time and activities.
September to December are the best months to dive Lake Malawi, as you can see the cichlids' complex mating rituals and mouth brooding (oral incubation of their offspring). Visibility is also better before rains fatten the rivers, causing them to wash silt into the lake.
The rainy season begins in earnest, bringing storms flickering across the lake, thundering waterfalls in places such as Livingstonia, and abundant birdlife and vegetation. Although droughts make conditions unpredictable, the rains generally last until April.
Malawi is predominantly Christian (its Muslim minority is found mainly in the south) and at Christmas, as at most events, the locals happily clink bottles of their beloved Carlsberg Green. A festive atmosphere reigns in tourist towns such as Cape Maclear and Nkhata Bay.