Monday, September 28, 2009

Travel Tips for Malawi

Malawi turned out to be more expensive than we anticipated, but it is possible to keep your costs down, here are some ways to do it:

Visa - for those who need a visa they cost $70-100, valid for 30 days within Malawi, takes 4 days to issue in Dar Es Sallaam. Check before arriving at the border as none should be issued there, although we have heard from various people that in emergencies it is possible.

Taxi from Songwe Bridge (Tanzanian border) to Nkhata Bay - 15,000MK after bargaining (300km+). A minibus should cost around 1000MK, but will require at least two changes and probably an overnight in Karonga or Mzuzu.
Camping at Kupenja Lodge, Nkhata Bay - 400MK p.p.
Basic meal at Kupenja Lodge (i.e. Rice and Veg or beans / fish or meat) - 400/600MK
Beer (Carlsberg 'Green'/'Stout') at Kupenja Lodge - 150/180MK
Soft drinks in a shop/bar - 50/100MK
Meal in local cafe - around 200MK
Internet - 5-8MK per min.
2l bottle of mineral water - 200MK
200ml bottle of WaterGuard purifier - 30MK
Bag of chips (with cabbage) - 100MK
Minibus from Nkhata Bay to Mzuzu - 350MK, 1 hour, 50km
Scone from street vendor - 50MK
Bus/Minibus from Mzuzu to Chikangawa (Viphya Plateau) and v.v. - 300/400MK, 1 hour, 55km
Camping at Kasito Lodge, Viphya Plateau - 750MK per site
Eggs/tomato/onion per piece on market - 30/10/30-50MK
Roast corn on the cob - 50-100MK
1st/2nd/Economy class ticket on Ilala from Nkhata Bay to Chizimulu island - 2600/960/590MK, 4 hours, totally packed, we took 1st class for this sector.
Camping at Wakwenda Retreat, Chizimulu island - 500MK p.p. But it is a priceless experience. Stunning location, excellent design and set-up. Only downside was the useless staff!
Beer at Wakwenda (Foreigner/Local) - 200/150MK. Hmmmm......
Meals at Wakwenda - from 400MK, slightly overpriced. Dinners usually 800MK per person, which is normal for backpackers in Malawi.
Snorkelling at Wakwenda - FREE
Meal at Joyces restaurant (next door to Wakwenda) - around 300MK for rice or nsima with egg, veg and beans. A little more for fish.
Dhow ride from Chizimulu to Likoma - 150MK p.p. From 1.5-5 hours depending on weather.
Camping at Mango Drift, Likoma - 500MK p.p. Nice beach and well organised.
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner at Mango Drift - 200-600/200-900/800MK
Beer/G'and'T and Mango Drift - 200/250MK
Firewood - 100MK per bunch (imported from Mozambique!)
Sunday service at Likoma Cathedral - FREE, includes spiritual blessing
Self-catering dinner for 7 on a fire - 120MK per person for 3 plates each of a stew of rice, beans, soya mince, potatoes and 4 types of vegetables.
Soya pieces - 65-80MK per packet.
1st/2nd class ticket on Ilala from Likoma to Monkey Bay - 9600/2800MK
Breakfast, lunch or dinner on Ilala in 1st class restaurant - 400-600MK
Coffee on Ilala - 100MK per cup. NO REFILLS!
'Green' beer on Ilala - 180MK
Coca-cola on Ilala - 80 in 2nd class, 100MK in 1st!
Meal from Economy galley (something like nsima and beef stew) - 150-200MK
Night in Luxury cabin on Ilala if arriving in Monkey Bay after dark - FREE for tourists, after consultation with the captain.
Ride on pick-up from Monkey Bay to Mangochi - 350MK
Bus from Mangochi to Blantyre - 700MK
Camping at Doogles, Blantyre - 600MK p.p.
Beer at Doogles - 180MK, if you can get through the crowds to the bar!
Sports on TV (5th Ashes for instance) - FREE
Meal at Temptations Cafe, Blantyre - 400MK
Minibus from Blantyre to Limbe - 50MK
Minibus from Limbe to Mulanje (Chitikale) - 400MK
100g bag of Macadamia Nuts from vendor enroute - 10MK!!!!! Deal of the Century!
Minibus/Pick-up from Chitikale to Likubula Forest Office and v.v. - 150MK, but they will ask for 250MK
Mt Mulanje park entrance fee - 100MK per visit
Left luggage storage charge - 500MK per group
Camping at CCAP Lodge, Likhubula - 360MK p.p.
Sleeping in mountain huts on Mulanje - 700MK p.p. Nice huts, albeit empty, you sleep on the floor or on one of a few matresses but there are wardens to supply water and firewood and all have nice fireplaces.
Minibus from Thuchila to Likhubula - 200MK
Bus from Blantyre to Lilongwe - 700MK, min 5 hours, 320km
Taxi from bus station to Mabuya Camp - 800MK
Camping at Mabuya Camp - 700MK p.p. Brilliantly run, one of the best places we have stayed so far. Staff were friendly and helpful and nothing was too much trouble. They have a pool, internet, book swap, laundry facilities, many braii pits, hot showers and a nice relaxed bar. The staff are a mine of information about onward trips you may have planned.
'Green'/Stout/Coffee at Mabuya Camp - 175/200/75MK
Set dinners at Mabuya Camp - from 550-800MK
Internet at Mabuya Camp - 10MK per min. Ouch!
Internet in Lilongwe - from 5MK per min.
Self-caterers can make use of the PTC, Shoprite and Metro stores all close to each other in the centre.
Minibus from Lilongwe to Mchinji (Malawi/Zambia border) - 600MK, 2 hours
Shared taxi from Mchinji to the actual border post - around 200MK p.p.

Budget - 3000MK per person per day based on two people camping every night and self-catering for at least half of the meals.

Exchange rate - 141MK=$1USD at the official rate. If you have greenbacks then you can change them for up to 180MK on the black market. Therefore it is better to bring cash into Malawi, not rely on ATM's like us and get the official rate!


  1. nice dude about travel tips please just go ahead and write more here please i am waiting...........