Goodbye to the Portuguese-flavoured Mozambique and on to a whole new world – hello Malawi! I hate to repeat myself time and time again but Malawi is yet another amazing country (thinking about it, maybe it’s the traveling that’s always amazing and not necessarily the country!?, who knows – anyways, suffice to say i had an awesome time here that’s for sure =)). The country is dominated by the breathtaking Lake Malawi and with endless towns situated on the coast, you can’t fail to take Malawi up on its seafood and lakeside activities and enjoy every second of it..
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa and, as is often the case, this seems to bring a sincerity and generosity out of it inhabitants so it’s tough not to fall in love with the place. Naturally, through its poverty, Malawi is a cheap place to travel and because of this you can end up staying much, much longer than you anticipate!
I’m going to just give a quick run-down on the basics for travelling in Malawi, from a budget perspective:
Budget: Can easily get by on $20 a day (lay off the Carlsberg Elephants though)
Transport: Varied, uncomfortable, entertaining, cheap and eventful! You’ll spend time in overcrowded buses (for sure), on the back of pick-ups, on the back of cargo on the back of pick-ups, on push-bike taxis, kayaks, steam boats and dhows etc..
Accommodation: If you want to rough it, you can sleep for cheap! Let’s face it, you don’t need more than a clean sheet, a mattress and a mosquito net – do ya?! if that’s your only prerequisites then $2-$5 rooms are easy to find
Food: Eat local and you’ll eat well. For pittance. Stay away from the eateries featured in your guidebook and you’ll wallet will reap the benefits! Food here is distinctly average regardless of how much you spend, so you might as well spend $1 for an average meal than $10!
Entertainment: Lots and lots and lots. Generally focused on the lake – scuba, snorkeling, kayaking, lounging on the beach nursing a hangover, watersports. Stuff is pretty reasonably priced and for $10 you can try your hand at water-skiing, banana boating etc.
The general route north: I arrived via land (standard) from Mozambique in a horrible dalla-dalla, which is a minibus designed for 12 people although I’m not sure if the driver was aware of this as he squeezed the 27th person in the van for the 4 hour journey!…
From the border you can jump in another minibus to the industrial city of Blantyre, spend a day or two there. Head north to Monkey Bay or Cape Maclear for a few days chilling with your fellow backpackers. From here you can get an awesome boat up the lake which I recommend highly. If not, head to the capital for a day or two. Then onwards north to Senga Bay and finally onto Nkhata Bay.
2 weeks gone in a heartbeat, guaranteed. Your bank account will love you, as will your sense of adventure! So get to Malawi, asap – i’ll fill you in my the details of my trip in Malawi in subsequent posts…