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

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    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.!!!!

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    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.

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    Boat at Lake Malawi

    by sachara Updated Sep 27, 2003

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    At the Lake Malawi it's nice to make a boatride by hiring a boat of the local people, who are around at the beach or at guesthouses.
    It is not expensive, the scenery is beautiful and a meal or barbecue at the beach or an island can be included.
    We really enjoyed our boatride from Cape Maclear to one of the islands.

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    Stagecoach Busses

    by frockland Updated Jul 5, 2004

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    “There is a nation-wide bus service catering for the local population. They seemed to stop every hundred yards to on-load and off-load passengers: often burdened with the most improbably shaped packages and produce. These buses are crowded and lively. The seating allows the traveller to appreciate every rut and pothole on untarred roads! This service is unhurried and offers an unrivalled opportunity to share ´a close proximity travel situation´ with the very friendly Malawian people. At many stops the bus windows attracts swarms of children selling local snacks, drinks and curios. Main bus stations are always situated close to population centres and are thronged with street vendors – if you get that far. Breakdowns are far from uncommon” (“Guide To Malawi”)

    This changed during the last years. The number of vehicles on Malawi’s roads has increased significantly from 80.000 to more than 350.000 since the introduction of multiparty democracy in 1994, when transport sector was liberalized and the control of the import of vehicles was stopped.

    Nowadays there are only a few busses on the roads to find. For longer destinations there is usually only one day and one night bus.

    Minibusses and pick ups are far more common now.

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    The Great East Road

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Dec 1, 2002

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    Our two trips to Grand Beach were done by car from Luanshya, Zambia - a 600-mile trip each way. Once past Lusaka, the Great East Road was the direct link to Malawi at the Chipata border crossing. This was a good road with an 80 mph comfortable cruising speed, hardly any traffic and only two places to stop for any hope of supplies or gas. On the second trip, I kept hearing a funny noise every time the car went around a turn on the highway. When we finally reached the resort and checked in, the rear wheel rim of the Toyota Crown broke into two pieces while we were slowly driving to our accommodations (the slow speed must have placed additional stress on the weak point - one advantage of speeding!). No damage and we made it back on our spare tire at the end of the trip. Photo taken along the Great East Road in Zambia near the border, with a Baobab tree and landscape similar to Malawi's.

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    Bicycle - taxis

    by frockland Updated Jul 5, 2004

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    Despite the increase of vehicles on Malawian roads there is still a chronicle shortage of public transport in rural areas due to the poor road conditions. As a result, most bus operators prefer to ply between cities and towns. To fill that vacuum more and more villagers are getting into the bicycle taxi business and it became a common feature on rural Malawian roads. Bicycles ranks can often be found at junctions. If there is an inefficient bus service locals offer this service for the “last mile”.
    The fare is determined by the distance and the weight of the passenger. Bicycle taxis also operate as courier service for the delivery of parcels.

    Taxi cyclists are usually organised with a chairman standing at the head of a rank. If someone got harassed he or she can complain to him and if the taxi owner is found guilty he can be suspended for two weeks to two month, if it was a serious offence.

    It may feel strange for a traveller to use this service that might look like a relict of old colonial days as the Muzungu is sitting on the back seat and the black man is sweating to pedal him through the days heat. But at least this taxi business is enabling villagers to earn some money for their living. Beside the taxi business some “side business” like bicycle maintenance developed and is offering some income for even more villagers.

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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!

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Lilongwe airport

    by sachara Updated Sep 27, 2003

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    By plane you will arrive at Kamuzu International Airport. KLM, Britsh Airways and some African airlines have flights between Malawi and Europe. We flight with KLM directly from Amsterdam.
    At the airport are banks, a postoffice and a pharmacy.
    All buses from/to Lilongwe to/from the north will stop at the airport, so it's easy to go by bus to the capital. We had a hired bus.

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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.

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  • frockland's Profile Photo

    MV Mtendere

    by frockland Updated Jul 10, 2004

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    Since the beginning of 2004 the ´MV Mtendere´ is cruising the southern parts of Lake Malawi.

    ´MV Mtendere´ Weekly Voyage Schedule

    Port Day Arrival Departure
    Monkey Bay Wednesday 09.00
    Makanjia Wednesday 12.00 13.00
    Meponda (Moz) Wednesday 14.30 15.30
    Senga Bay Thursday 05.00 06.00
    Makanjia Thursday 07.30 08.30
    Monkey Bay Thursday 11.30

    Fares in Malawian Kwachas:
    Embarkation Port is Monkey Bay

    Port / Ensuite Cabin / Standard Cabin / Business / Economy

    Makanjia: 3.200 / 2.000 / 600 / 280
    Senga Bay: 3.800 / 2.000 / 800 / 380
    Meponda (Moz): 4.600 / 3.000 / 380

    First Class fares include English Breakfast and late afternoon snaks.

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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.

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    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).

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    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.

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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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    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.

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