Getting Around Malawi

  • Axa Coach on the roadside
    Axa Coach on the roadside
    by MikeBird
  • Bicycles in Cape Maclear
    Bicycles in Cape Maclear
    by georeiser
  • Salima bus station in Malawi
    Salima bus station in Malawi
    by georeiser

Most Viewed Transportation in Malawi

  • MikeBird's Profile Photo

    Luxury Coach service: North - South in Malawi

    by MikeBird Written Dec 22, 2013

    In November 2013 I chose to take the luxury coach service from Lilongwe to Mzuzu. It is operated by Axa. This service starts in Blantyre and arrives Lilongwe around mid-day. It is scheduled to arrive in Mzuzu about 4- 5 hours later. The coach can be picked up from City Mall north of the city centre on the M1. There are other luxury services that take the Lakeshore road from north to south.
    It's advisable to buy your ticket in advance by a few days if possible. The ticket office is in the City Mall and in Mzuzu it is next to the arrival/departure point. On the two trips I took there was evidence of overbooking and some people ended up standing in the aisle. I'm unsure whether these people just arrived late or whether they purchased their tickets on the day. The tickets have numbered seats so there shouldn't really be any need to have passengers standing but if there are fare-paying passengers then maybe they are not going to get turned away.
    My return journey from Mzuzu to Lilongwe was very good. It stuck to schedule and there were no problems. I'd like to think this was the normal experience of the Deluxe service.

    The toilet break at Kasungu was very welcome.

    Unfortunately my first experience was not so 'deluxe'. After leaving Lilongwe punctually we had just reached the outskirts of the city when the bus pulled up on the side of the road. Apparently the accelerator cable had snapped. It took 2 hours to find someone to arrive with the new spare part and a further hour to install the new cable. Still we were lucky. A further two hours up the road and we came across the earlier Axa coach which had also broken down. All of its passengers had to climb on board our bus and stand for the remaining two hours of the journey. We finally arrived in Mzuzu at 8.45pm. I'd like to think this experience was unusual. Other people I met said that the Axa coaches have a strong reputation for reliability so maybe I was just unlucky.

    My fare for Lilongwe - Mzuzu was MWK5000 ( Nov.2013)

    Axa Coach on the roadside
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  • MikeBird's Profile Photo

    Beware the road speed traps

    by MikeBird Updated Dec 1, 2013

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    I'd hired a car to get to Zomba and drove directly from Lilongwe airport south towards Zomba. The road is pretty empty and more or less free from pot-holes but beware the police are out ( at least from 08.00am onwards until dusk) with their radar speed cameras. They are usually to be found at the end of the 50km/hour zone as you drive out past a village.

    It seems there are signs informing drivers that they are entering a 50km/hr zone but the signs to indicate that the zone is now at an end cannot always be seen. Apparently thieves steal the metal signs and use the material for other purposes. Regular users of the road will have a good idea of where the restricted speed zone starts and ends but if you are a visitor you're unlikely to have that knowledge. Oncoming drivers often warn cars of the presence of the Police speed traps by flashing their lights which is always helpful but I'm embarrassed to admit that I got caught speeding twice. Once heading south and once going north. Make sure you get a receipt in exchange for the MWK5,000 instant fine you have to pay.

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  • MikeBird's Profile Photo

    Getting from airport to Lilongwe city

    by MikeBird Written Nov 30, 2013

    The Lilongwe Kamuzu International airport is at least 20kms to the north of the city centre. In November 2013 the only way for an independent traveller to get from the airport to the city centre would be to engage a taxi for the journey.

    There are several banks in the arrivals part of the airport terminal so it is possible to change currency into Malawian Kwacha.

    As you step outside the terminal building you will be approached by many taxi drivers. Be advised that the going rate for newly arrived visitors with luggage will be about MWK15,000 or more. This of course will be negotiable and if you are staying in town for some time you are likely to find a taxi driver with whom you feel comfortable and who will do a good price for you on your journeys around town. There is a sign up in the Arrivals Hall informing passengers of the acceptable cost of a taxi fare to the city centre.

    When I was leaving the country from Lilongwe airport I managed to negotiate a price of MWK10,000 but I suspect this is as low as any driver will go. Petrol prices are rising steeply. I saw one hike from MWK608/litre to MWK736 and that was nationwide so taxi prices are almost certain to rise again.

    It seems the 3 daily international flights all seem to arrive and leave at about the same time - around midday. Ethiopian, South African and Kenyan airways aircraft were all lined up on the airport apron. I suspect once these flights have departed the airport becomes very quiet. Maybe it will pick up now that Ethiopian have negotiated a deal to help a newly formed airline called Malawian airways to get off the ground.

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  • MalawiKate's Profile Photo

    Ilala Ferry on Lake Malawi

    by MalawiKate Written Aug 21, 2012

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    Backpacking in Malawi? Head North or South along the lakeshore by the Ilala Ferry and truly experience the beauty of the lake. I would recommend starting North at Chilimba and going all the way south to Monkey Bay. You get to stop off at small lake island, see the beauty of the Mozambique shoreline and experience the hustle and bustle of trading onboard. The locals use the Ilala as their main form of trade down Lake Malawi.

    Ilala Ferry Top Deck- Explore Malawi
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  • georeiser's Profile Photo

    The roads in Malawi

    by georeiser Updated Nov 27, 2009

    The roads in Malawi was recently poorly developed. But the main roads in the central and south region of Malawi have been better lately with foreign aid and earmarked transfers. Many of the roads are with bitumen. And apparently better than the roads in Zambia.

    The roads in Malawi The roads in Malawi
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  • georeiser's Profile Photo

    Bus to Malawi

    by georeiser Updated Nov 27, 2009

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    Bus to Malawi:
    From Tanzania: Minibuses run all the way between Dar es Salaam and Lilongwe with stops in the Songwe border crossing, Kyela, Mzuzu and Karonga.

    From Zambia: There are both direct buses and minibuses between Lusaka and Lilongwe with stops in Chipata and the Mchinji border.

    From Mozambique: From Quelimane and Nampula you can get minibuses to the Milange-Mulanje border. From there you can reach Blantyre.
    From Cuamba on the Mandimba-Chiponde border. From there you can reach Mangochi and Namwera.
    From Cuamba you go south to Entre Lagos-Nayuchi border to Liwonde.
    From Caia you can a take minibus to Vila Nova da Fronteira border to Nsanje and Blantyre.
    From Tete to the Zóbuè-Mwanza border to Blantyre.

    Bus to Malawi Lilongwe bus station Lilongwe bus station
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  • georeiser's Profile Photo

    Bicycle taxi

    by georeiser Written Nov 22, 2009

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    Bicycle taxis are available in many places in Malawi. I saw them in Lilongwe, and on the countryside on the road from Lilongwe to Cape Maclear in Lake Malawi. The bicycles has a passenger pillow on the baggage rack. It's a original and funny sight.

    Bicycle taxis in Malawi Bicycle taxis in Malawi Bicycle taxis in Malawi
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  • Car Hire Malawi

    by goatfame Written Sep 2, 2008

    If anyone is looking for Car hire you can contact this company in lilongwe they are at the airport as well

    Blue Arrow Car Rentals Ltd.
    Post.net x100,
    Crossroads
    Lilongwe
    Malawi

    Contact Person : Tonny Bunns,
    Contact Telephone No.: 00265 8826 224
    00265 5658 195
    bluearrow2009@btinternet.com
    Situated in Teptec Building, Capital City, Lilongwe, Malawi

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  • TracyG's Profile Photo

    Buses are great...

    by TracyG Updated Jun 14, 2005

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    Flying is the easiest way, with good connections to most of the large cities in Africa and then on to the rest of the world.
    There are good bus services between the large cities, but locally the minibuses are great and they will more or less go anywhere. There is also a boat service which runs up and down the lake, stopping at most major places along the way.

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  • johanl's Profile Photo

    CONDITION OF THE ROADS: GET A PhD IN MALAWI

    by johanl Written Feb 25, 2005

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    The main roads are in a relatively good shape.
    While driving i was asked by a local guy if i had a PHD. Returning the question why he asked, he said: it seems so, by the way you drive. You must have been to Africa before !!! He got me confused now.
    Yes he says, in order to avoid the pot holes in the tarmac, you have to drive from one side of the street to the other. Make sudden stops, reverse the car ens.
    So, he says, you have developped these skills, to drive in Malawi.
    So we honour you with a PHD: Pot Hole Dodger.!!!!

    road from Palm Beach to Lake Malawi
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  • johanl's Profile Photo

    HOP ON THE BUS !!!! IF YOU CAN

    by johanl Updated Feb 25, 2005

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    Compared to other countries in Southern Africa, except for the RSA, busses are in quite a good shape. To my surprise, vehicules are checked every year, in order to be allowed in traffiic. We did not discover what this check up really was.
    Busses are very crowded, hot and sticky.
    A mixture of smells catches you when going on the bus. But you get used to it after a while.

    On the road
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  • Lady-Charisma's Profile Photo

    Drive in the correct lane!

    by Lady-Charisma Written Sep 11, 2004

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    I believe that public transportation was mostly available in the major cities (not so much in the rural areas, but still available), but I am not sure about their reliability. And, if you venture on your own and decide to rent a vehicle (not sure of the costs) to travel in, make sure you drive on the correct side of the street! For Americans and others used to driving on the RIGHT side of the road, get used to driving on the LEFT side! Africa is under the British rule, so the driving applies too - hence, the opposite driving side of the road in America!

    Public Transportation
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  • frockland's Profile Photo

    MV Ilala

    by frockland Updated Sep 11, 2004

    MV Ilala Weekly Voyage Schedule

    North Bound Voyage

    Port / Day / Arrival / Departure

    Monkey Bay Friday 10.00
    Chipoka Friday 13.00 15.00
    Nkhota Kota Saturday 00.30 03.00
    Metangula Saturday 06.00 08.00
    Cobue Saturday 12.00 13.00
    Likoma Saturday 13.30 16.00
    Chiszumulu Saturday 19.30 22.00
    Nkhata Bay Sunday 04.00 07.30
    Usisya Sunday 09.30 11.30
    Ruarwe Sunday 12.30 13.30
    Chilumba Sunday 19.00

    South Bound Voyage

    Port / Day / Arrival / Departure

    Chilumba Monday 01.00
    Nkhata Bay Monday 13.00 19.00
    Likoma Tuesday 03.30 06.30
    Chipoka Wednesday 04.00 06.00
    Monkey Bay Wednesday 12.00

    Fares

    Embarkation Port: Monkey Bay

    Owner´sCabin 1st Class (cabin) 1st Cl (Deck)
    Chipoka 36 $ 26 $ 10 $
    Metangula 95 $ 61 $ 33 $
    Cobue 98 $ 65 $ 46 $
    Likoma Island 106 $ 76 $ 51 $
    Nkhata Bay 168 $ 121 $ 71 $

    Fares are given in US $ per person (06/2004) and include English breakfast and late afternoon snacks for Cabin Classes and Continental Breakfast for Deck Class.

    Don´t expect to get a decent meal!

    Beside these classes there are “Second Class” and “Economy Class”. They are much cheaper and more crowed but expect to pay only about 1/10 of the first class fares. Second class is in under deck, where you can find some seats (if you are lucky), “Economy” is outside and in the front of the vessel. This is a good option! If you don´t like it there is still the possibility to upgrade the ticket.

    DON´T THINK OF SNEAKING ON BOARD WITHOUT PAYING.

    There are ticket checks even in the middle of night and the ticket needs to be returned when disembarking.

    MV Ilala

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  • Christel21's Profile Photo

    Car is necessary

    by Christel21 Written Jul 13, 2004

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    The locals mainly make use of their bicycle to get to places and to carry wood, sweet potatoes and whatever they need. It is amazing how much they can carry on their bicycle and still keep their balance! For tourists it is best to hire a car though (or take your own car with).

    Bicycles - their main transport
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  • frockland's Profile Photo

    MV Songea

    by frockland Updated Jul 10, 2004

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    A third vessel is cuising the northern parts of the lake. Its the Tanzanian ´MV Songea´. For the schedule ask in Nkhata Bay. Usually the boat arrives there on Sunday afternoon, coming from Mbamba Bay in Tanzania.

    ��MV Songea��

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