Getting Around, Malawi Travel, Transport and Car Rental
(Malawi, MW, South-East Africa)
Malawi has a relatively good transport system, ranging from regular domestic flights for those who are on a strict itinerary, to public buses for those with more time to travel.
Whilst hire cars may be the convenient option in Malawi, using public transport to travel around the country gives visitors an opportunity to see Malawian life at first hand. For some, this makes for an important part of the overall African holiday experience.
Lilongwe International Airport (LLW) / Arriving by Air
Address: M1, Lombadzi, Malawi, MW, Africa
Tel: +265 01 70 0811
Also often referred to as Kamuzu International Airport, Lilongwe International Airport operates services from Europe, as well as South Africa
. For most visitors to Malawi, this is the main point of entry. Taxi and bus services operate between the airport and the centre of Lilongwe, some 26 km / 16 miles away. Alternatively, flights operate from Blantyre Airport. There are fewer facilities at this airport - the city can be reached via a coach service which leaves from the airport.
A domestic charter service also operates from Lilongwe Airport and from Blantyre Airport. Such chartered flights are becoming an increasingly popular way to reach remote bush destinations or islands in and around Malawi. They are also a quicker way to travel between the country's larger urban centres.
The main airports in Malawi are listed below, many of which provide fairly limited services:
- Chelinda Airport (CEH) - Chelinda
- Chileka International Airport (BLZ) - Blantyre
- Club Makokola Airport (CMK) - Club Makokola
- Dwanga Airport (DWA) - Dwanga
- Karonga Airport (KGJ) - Karonga
- Kasungu Airport (KBQ) - Kasungu
- Likoma Airport (LIX) - Likoma
- Lilongwe International Airport (LLW) - Lilongwe
- Mangochi Airport (MAI) - Mangochi
- Monkey Bay Airport (MYZ) - Monkey Bay
- Mzuzu Airport (ZZU) - Mzuzu
- Salima Airport (LMB) - Salima
Car hire is available at both Lilongwe and Blantyre airports. Alternatively, visitors can arrange to pick up a hire car from a number of other locations in Malawi. Road conditions aren't always great, so care should be taken when driving on minor roads. It is advisable to opt for a four-wheel drive vehicle, which can cope with a wider variety of terrain and weather conditions. Standards do vary from one hire company to the next, so if someone recommends a particular company, it's worth taking the advice.
Buses and Coaches
Public buses are a cheap and easy way to get around the larger cities, particularly Lilongwe. A fairly reliable intercity bus service also operates in Malawi, with an express coach service linking most major towns and cities. A luxury service operates between the capital city of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu. An air-conditioned coach service also runs between Blantyre and Johannesburg
, in South Africa.
The train services are operated by Central East African Railways. Trains run between Lilongwe and several other towns and cities, including Salima, Blantyre and Limbe, and Nasanje. Most tourists choose not to travel around Malawi by train, because it's a slow way to get around and none too comfortable at that.
Whilst taxis are usually a popular way to get around most African cities, it's a different story in Malawi. Taxis tends to be thin on the ground. In addition, they can't be hailed from the street and ranks are not always easy to find.
Boats and Ferries
For visitors to Lake Malawi, few can resist taking a leisurely cruise on a local steamer.
A ferry service also connects ports around the country with those in Mozambique.