Given the scarcity of fuel that has become almost a permanent problem in Lilongwe (and the rest of the country), it can be risky to plan a trip in the country using rental cars, unless you have made sure that you can secure fuel at different points of your trip, which is currently almost impossible! So if that was your plan, my advice is that you reconsider, or you investigate carefully what the fuel situation is a few days before you start your trip.
After having lived in Lilongwe for a few months, I can recommend a taxi drver that has helped me out quite a few times, driving me around at those times when we had run out of fuel completely..
His website is:
Lilongwe is spread out so getting around can be hard sometimes. There is also a lack of reliable taxi drivers and you can get stranded late at night. You can pick up taxis from Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel (in the Old Town) and Sunbird Capital Hotel (in the New town). Or just ask your hotel to prearrange transportation. It costs more... I paid 4000 MWK from my hotel in the New town to the airport. It took 25 minutes to drive.
The bus stop for long distance buses are in the Lilongwe market, in area 1. To/from Zambia: There are both direct buses and minibuses between Lusaka and Lilongwe with stops in Chipata and the Mchinji border.
To/from Tanzania: Minibuses run all the way between Dar es Salaam and Lilongwe with stops in the Songwe border crossing, Kyela, Mzuzu and Karonga.
Kamuzu airport is located 20 km north off Lilongwe "New town", and approx 25 km from the "Old town". The road towards the airport is remarkable clean and fine. The airport itself is small, but modern. Departure hall is at the ground floor on the left side of the building. The security check of the bags is right after the door when you enter the building. The check-in counters are 10 meters away. After check-in you have to pay the airport tax at the counter right beside the stairs. All passengers on international flights must pay 30 USD departure tax (see photo). Immigration is located at the top of the stairs, right before the taxfree shops. The gates and the last security scan is down to the ground floor again.
The only flights leaving today were South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Air Malawi, so it was easy to find the right check-in counter. For me it was Kenya Airways to Nairobi (see photos).
Lilongwe bus station is packed with minibuses of all categories, and the minibuses are packed with people.
I traveled by minibus from Lilongwe to Mangochi on the way to Cape Maclear. Unfortunately I picked a minibus which took the old road south to Balaka and Liwonde before it turned north towards Mangochi. The trip took almost 7 hours in a Toyota Hiace with 22 passengers. In addition I had to change bus from Mangochi to Monkey Bay. Make sure to ask the driver before you get into the bus. You must take the new road to Monkey Bay along the southern tip of Lake Malawi, and NOT to Mangochi. It will reduce your travel time with 3 hours.
I paid 1500 MKW for the trip from Lilongwe to Mangochi. 250 MKW from Mangochi to Monkey Bay. And 1500 MKW from Monkey Bay to Cape Maclear in the private pickup.
Lilongwe bus station can appear like a giant chaos! When entering the area ask the watchman at the gate on which platform your bus will depart. Most buses on longer distances leave very early in the morning between 05.00 hrs and 06.30 hrs.
The more luxurious “Express Busses” of Stagecoach don’t depart from here! Book and check at least a day before in the office at their depot or at the counter on platform D.
The Stagecoach depot is near The PTC Hypermarket on Kamuzu Procession Road.