Quick Guide Lilongwe and Nkhata Bay, Malawi

Lilongwe and Nkhata Bay, Malawi

First Impression: We arrived by bus from Lusaka, Zambia so after the chaos of bussing through Zambia, Lilongwe felt so orderly and friendly. The city felt safe during the day, we were too exhausted from Zambia to venture out after dark, preferring to drink beer at the hostel and sleep early.

My first impression of Nkhata Bay was, one of peace and relaxation during the day and good old debauchery in the wee hours.

Where I stayed: In Lilongwe we stayed at Mabuya Camp which was a basic backpackers hostel, shared showers and mosquitoes!  But friendly staff and a healthy supply of cold Carlsberg beers. 

In Nkhata Bay, we stayed at Mayoka Village Lodge, which I dubbed “A backpacker resort”.  The relatively tame afternoon tea time is followed by a particularly ‘happy’, happy hour followed by several hours of college party style interactions.

What to wear:  It’s hot, dress comfortably, In Lilongwe, I wore a knee length cotton sundress and sarong as a shawl.  In Nkhata Bay at the Lodge I wore beach wear but in town I dressed more conservatively.

What I did: In Lilongwe we went to the Craft Market, wandered around and drank Iced Coffee.  We were so exhausted from the previous week we spent most of our time lounging and reading by the pool at our hostel.

In Nkhata Bay, I drank a lot, went swimming, lounged by the lake reading, wandered through town and went shopping; ate banana pancakes at One Love Café and listened to the Rasta owner play the bongos while l looking out over the magnificently blue Lake Malawi (Lake Nyasa)

Practical tidbits:

  • Take a tuk tuk in Malawi
  • If you can afford it, hire a private driver from Lilongwe to Nkhata Bay (100 USD approximately- we split between 3 so it was very affordable when you consider time and pain saved-we arrived several hours ahead of the Peace Corps people).

Off the beaten path: One Love Café in Nkhata Bay, eat a Space Cake if you are inclined.

Last Impression/Wishes for “next time”:  I would head to the islands in Lake Malawi for a few nights.

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