Malawi - With taxi to Lake Malawi

Finally, also in most African countries, the covid entry restrictions have been lifted and testing is not required anymore. So this was the case for visiting Malawi, which nowadays became one of the easier countries to visit in Africa.

They issue e-visas for 50 USD and the process looks professional, although once applied and paid for, the uncertainty and wait begins. Officially they claim to provide it within 3 working days, but in my case, and based on stories I read on the internet, it could take up to weeks, months, or even, no e-visa issue at all. In the end, I had to wait for three weeks and within the waiting time the payment of the visa even has been reverted and I got the visa for free. So, thanks Malawi :).

Even though it's generally easy to get to Malawi, the prices of flight tickets from Europe are wobbling on the expensive side when comparing it with other countries around. 

I arrived in the afternoon and it was a comfortable and fresh temperature. This is as Malawi is in the southern area of Africa and in September entering the time of spring. It's a small international airport, only one floor. There's an office to exchange money for a good rate, even better than in the city. 

My plan was to rent a car for the 3 days and drive to Lake Malawi.

But these weeks Malawi was facing a shortage of fuel. Basically, all gas stations were empty and once they had filled the gas stations, it would take hours to wait in the queue. The prices were also too steep, at 2 dollars per liter gasoline. Thankfully the rental company told me this before I picked up the car, so I canceled the reservation.

Although now I had to organize another transport for getting to lake Malawi. The sun goes down around 18pm and I used the remaining of the day to explore downtown Lilongwe.

Day 2 - With taxi to Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi is the most important touristic activity in Malawi. 

There are some spectacular mountains to hike but lake Malawi is definitely the thing to do when visiting Malawi. It's just 120 KM from the capital Lilongwe and can be reached by perfect maintained roads within 2 hours. 

The area at Lake Malawi is Senga. It's the biggest town on the left side along the lake. I got picked up at 8am and was returned at 17pm.

Taxi is cheaper than a rental car

Somehow locals need to travel between Lilongwe and Lake Malawi, so for sure there may be public busses. But it might be difficult to do this as a tourist and with the plan to depart to the lake in the morning and return in the evening. So the only feasible option I found was a taxi. 

Interestingly the taxi, including the driver obviously, was only around 70 USD, whereas the rental car would have cost 100 USD including the fuel.

Roads are in perfect condition

Just outside the capital Lilongwe there are very few cars on the road, which is in perfect condition with almost no potholes. There are many police checkpoints, but as a taxi passenger, there is no danger of being asked for bribes.

I asked the driver to drive slowly, as the scenery is nice and I have plenty of time. No rush is necessary, as even with a slow pace, Senga can be reached easily within 2 hours. 

Along the way are some small local neighborhoods with basic facilities and local markets. Most of the living areas consisted of small bush houses and in the best case, small houses made of African bricks.

Arriving at Lake Malawi

On the eastern side of lake Malawi are a few restaurants and resorts (resorts in the meaning of African style kind of resorts of course). They are all well apart and it feels like there is no tourist infrastructure at all. But that's not the case. One of the "bigger hotels" is Sunbird, and it has all a tourist who comes for a vacation to Lake Malawi, could ask for. 

The Sunbird restaurant is located right at the beach and from there its possible to walk direction south, towards the fishing village. 

I'll skip the swim in the lake

In the middle of the lake is a small island. They bring tourists there for day trips, but I couldn't think of wandering around for hours on that island. Also, I couldn't think of swimming in this lake as there are several insects and dangerous animals. Maybe they are not in sight but at other parts of the lake, and therefore is a chance hippos or crocodiles could be in this area as well.

Although there is a hill with huge stones between the sunbird facilities area the public area. Locals showed me the way to climb up and get past it. Great view from up the hill.

Once passed the steep hill, the fishing village begins, with dozens of boats along the shore. 

Of course, I was too late to watch the fishing boats bringing back the catch of the morning, but its still interesting to watch them prepare the equipment for the next day.

I walked for about 2 km along the lake, had lunch and after that returned slowly back through the villages. The temperature in Malawi is not too hot and good to even walk for longer during midday.

Getting back to Lilongwe by 5pm

After walking back through the Senga villages for about an hour, I was back at the sunbird area around 3pm. 

The taxi driver was still waiting and the drive back from Lake Malawi to Lilongwe was the same as comfortable as the way towards here, again on a 2-hour drive with almost no cars around and nice scenery.

Day 3 - Departure to Zambia

The flight to Lusaka (Zambia) is only a bit more than an hour and getting to the airport from downtown Lilongwe almost took the same amount of time due to construction work traffic jams... with huge queues at all the gas stations along the way.

But the airport in Lilongwe is quiet. The whole morning were only 2 departing flights, and so no big problem with having a delayed flight.

No comments