ABOUT The Land of smiles! This is Africa’s undiscovered gem! The people of Malawi are well known for their unique culture, warmth and hospitality and have been acknowledged by travelers as one the friendliest people in the World. Malawi has a massive diversity of beautiful landscapes. The highest peaks in Malawi touch almost 3 000m while the lowest point is barely above sea level. This range of altitudes in a small area help to make the landscape of Malawi one of the moist varied in all Africa. It is generally a green, lush country, with plateaux, highlands, forests, mountains, plains, escarpments and dramatic river valleys. The variety of scenery is a major attraction to visitors and many of the highland areas and forest reserves have good accommodation options, and plenty of outdoor activities available. The Rift Valley is the dominant feature, providing the vast chasm that Lake Malawi fills, and extending to te south of the country following the Shire River that drains the Lake. The flatter areas of the Rift Valley in South Malawi are home to some important wetlands, including Elephant Marsh, down in the Lower Shire Valley. Central African Plateau to the west of the Lake and either side of the Shire Valley in the south, is the Central African Plateau. The transition from Rift Valley floor up to the Central African Plateau is characterised by a series of dramatic escarpments, such as at Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, a protected area of rugged, unspoilt wilderness. The Central African Plateau itself is gently undulating land between 1600ft (490m) and 5000ft (1500m), with the occassional lake such as Lake Chilwa and punctuated by more dramatic hills and forests. It is the widespread highlands and forests that provide the most impressive of the Malawi's varied scenery. Up where the air is fresh and cool are clear mountain streams, heaths, rolling montane grassland and evergreen forests.

CLIMATE The precipitation in Malawi comes mainly in December, January, February and March, though the rains arrive slightly earlier and leave slightly later the further north you are, and Malawi's higher areas generally receive more rainfalls. Most of the rain has faded by April and May, leaving a green landscape, which is starting to dry out. June, July and August, the nights become a lot cooler, although the days are still warm and clear. This is the start of the peak season for Malawi. September and October, the temperatures climb once again, so parts of the Malawi get quite hot, especially the low-lying areas around the lake. November is a variable month: It can be hot and dry like the weather in October; it can also see the season's first downpours. November is often a very interesting month, occasionally on successive days you can even see both weather patterns.

BEWARE Most visits to Malawi are trouble-free, but you should be alert to muggers and bag-snatchers. Avoid walking around quiet areas, especially after dark. Lock car doors and keep windows closed, especially when stopping your vehicle. Armed carjacking is a risk, especially for drivers of four-by-four vehicles. Do not offer lifts to strangers and be alert to obstructions in the road. Exercise caution with over-friendly people who approach you offering to act as guides or selling goods, or who claim to know you and request a lift in your car. Do not accept food or drink from strangers as people have been robbed after eating drugged food.