Where to Stay?
However you wish to travel between them, an important decision when putting together a Malawi tour is choosing which accommodation to use. Malawi has a good variety of well-run lodges and hotels, including some absolute gems. Because Malawi doesn’t have mass tourism, there are few areas with anything approaching a ‘concentration’ of accommodation options, but there is usually some level of choice in every location. On this site, we have a powerful Malawi Accommodation Filter that allows you to select from the best lodges, camps and hotels that Malawi has to offer, based on your own requirements and selection criteria.
Malawi Tour & Safari Operators
There are a number of companies in Malawi which organise tours and/or safaris for travellers. They offer services from simple accommodation booking to full length, tailor-made guided tours. Their knowledge of Malawi is excellent and they will be able to suggest itineraries to fit all wishes, requirements and budgets. They can be viewed here.
For details of languages which each company can offer guiding in click here.
Car Hire in Malawi
Car hire companies are based in Lilongwe and Blantyre, with desks at the airports. Cars can be delivered to and collected from any other location. Standards of vehicles vary and hiring can be expensive. A couple of reliable, well-priced companies are SS Rent A Car and Ambassador Car Hire A number of the local Tour & Safari Operators (above) also offer car hire, particularly Land & Lake.
Driving in Malawi
With relatively short distances between places of interest, reasonable road surfaces and little traffic, Malawi is a good country for self drive. Most of the main roads are tarred but narrow, with reasonably maintained surfaces. Potholes can occur on any road and speeds should be adjusted with this in mind. However, the general quality of roads is good by African standards. Driving is on the left. Expect to find people and animals on any road. Driving at night is to be avoided. Breakdowns are traditionally indicated by placing bush or tree branches at the side of the road behind the vehicle, but red triangles are strictly needed. Petrol is widely available but tanks should be filled when the opportunity occurs as soon as the indicator falls below half. An International Driving Licence is required although national driving licences will probably be accepted if a photograph is included. In recent times, regulations regarding speed limits and the use of safety belts have been more rigorously enforced. On-the-spot fines can be collected by uniformed police. Routine roadblocks may be encountered, especially near the borders, but should not entail a stop of more than a couple of minutes.
For tourists who choose to hire a vehicle in Malawi, breakdown cover is offered by the AA Autoclub at very affordable rates. Temporary full membership is available entitling tourists to free vehicle recovery and other services whilst they are visiting the country. If you are a member of the AA in your own country then a 50% discount is offered for AA services used whilst in Malawi. In order to receive this discount you must be able to prove membership within your home country, whilst in Malawi.
Air Travel in Malawi
Malawian Airlines flies a number of times every day between Lilongwe and Blantyre as well as connecting Malawi to its regional neighbours (Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa) and further afield through its alliance with Ethiopian Airlines. Malawi also has air charter companies which link most of the tourist destinations in the country as well as the main towns, including Bush & Lake Aviation. If using light aircraft for domestic transport, there is likely to be a baggage limit of 10-12 kg per person.
There is a good network of inexpensive public buses throughout the country. Small mini-buses offer local journeys while larger coaches ply the longer distance routes.
Taxis in Malawi are mainly found in the main cities, though some can be located in the rural areas if you ask around. Fares are usually fairly low by international standards. One taxi company that is gaining a very good reputation is Yellow Top Cab, which began offering branded taxis from a Lilongwe base and has now expanded to Blantyre. (www.yellowtopmalawi.com tel: 0990860960; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Facebook). Another is The Joy Taxi Service (previously Eagle Taxi Service), also based in Lilongwe and with a good reputation (www.thejoytaxiservice.com). Also in Lilongwe is Peace Taxi Services (tel: 0884968708; email: email@example.com; Facebook)
The famous Ilala, a 620 tonne vessel that can carry 400 passengers has traditionally travelled the length of Lake Malawi (365km) and provides a vital life line for the many communities that live around the lake. Ilala offers affordable transport allowing travellers to take in the stunning scenery at a leisurely pace. Passengers can hop on and off at various locations including Nkhata Bay and Likoma Island. The Ilala currently operates between Monkey Bay in the south and Chilumba in the north, calling in at Likoma and Chizumulu Islands both northbound and southbound. For more information and the latest timetables please click here.