Malawi - Central Africa

TANZANIA        MALAWI         ZAMBIA

Map of Malawi

When we left Iringa en-route to Malawi, we made excellent progress due to the good roads which were virtually traffic free. By 12:30 at our lunch stop we had reached Uyole, the turning off point for Malawi. In hindsight we should have driven into Mbeya for the night but because we were so near to the border we decided to push on. Again the two border crossings only took a half hour but now that we were in Malawi there was no place to stop till Mzuzo. This meant we would not reach our destination till dark. To further delay us there was a 20Km stretch of dirty road where they were repairing the main road. Let me say here and now though that outside of this stretch the main roads in Malawi are excellent and like Tanzania traffic free. For all that though driving at night is something to be avoided in an unfamiliar country and the other problem is that arriving late in the dark you find it difficult to find a suitable place not to mention being too tired to look for anything other than what you find. The result of this was that the hotel cost us $130 for the night which stretches our budget when done too often.


From Muzuzo we headed down the shore of Lake Malawi, stopping for lunch at a lodge run by a young South African couple. In some respects this is the ideal dream, setting up a lodge in an idyllic setting but for me the reality is that most of the time itís too remote, not so much from civilisation but from people I need to relate too. Unquestionably though it was a beautiful setting. Lake Malawi is Africaís third biggest lake and is actually designated as an inland sea. To travel beside it you wouldnít believe otherwise. As Iíve said already the main roads in Malawi are excellent as indeed they are from Tanzania down. Anything off a main road, however is dirty road, and, therefore, many of the hotels and places to stay are up side roads that are dirt tracks. Since weíre had only an hour and a half rain since leaving Ireland we have been lucky as any dirt roads weíre encountered have been dry and consequently easy to negotiate.


Stopping in Senga Bay, by the lakeshore, we had to go up to a road that wasnít dirt, however, but sand. In places it was literally as deep as riding on a beach and it showed up a difficulty with riding a bike carrying so much weight. We negotiated it up and back o.k. however but were thankful that it was only a couple of kilometers as it would be exhausting to ride over long distances in such deep sand. After Senga Bay we headed for one of Malawiís most beautiful places, Cape McClear, named by Livingstone after his astronomer friend. For all the world it was like being at the Caribbean with a beautiful sandy beach and wooded islands offshore. While having lunch in the lodge two day previously the South African owner had said it was really worth visiting but felt that the so odd kilometers of dirt road up to it was too difficult for our bikes. Since the weather was dry and sunny though we felt we had to go up. The bikes handled the conditions fine although the first road we went up reduced to a narrow sandy track which ended at an unfordable river. The second road we tried was flat and o.k. the only irritation being it was corrugated i.e. a rippling effect that canít be taken at speed. By staying on the very edge of the road, however, where the bicycles had worn a smooth track, we were able to make a steady 70Km an hour.


Cape McClear itself is an idyllic place to stay with every sort of watersport available. Itís a popular retreat for the expat community also and one couple we met, Keith and Karen Woodward befriended us. They were there with their daughter Jee on a diving course and arranged accommodation for us at a good rate (tourists pay extra) in the Imperial Hotel in Lilongwe. Not only that but Keith told us to have our meal on his account at his friend Brianís restaurant, Don Briscon is in the same complex. Ironically in view of the advice against the road to Cape Mc Clear which proved no problem, Keith advised us of a short cut to Lilongwe which he said would be easily negotiated by our bikes but which proved anything but apart from having to bypass a tree which totally blocked the road this dirt road proved o.k. initially. As we climbed up through the mountains, however it became narrower and more difficulty to the point that were totally rutted and would have been almost impossible were it wet. Again the hot weather was to our favour and we were thankful to get through it unscathed. In Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi we easily made out the Imperial Hotel in the old city. Owned by an English lad from Oxford called Harry it seemed to be the focal point for overlanders and the local white community. We had an excellent meal there in Brianís restaurant and it was a very relaxing atmosphere especially as the electricity went out, a not uncommon occurrence in this city.

TANZANIA        MALAWI         ZAMBIA

Map of Malawi
Return to previous page

 © Copyright GSRTW.com 2002