Malawi – a summary

Border:
We entered Malawi from Tanzania and left at Mchinji border to Zambia. We got a 3 month Visa for USD 50,-, which we had done online. We had contacted a lodge, which had sent as a booking confirmation for that purpose. We had problems with paying the visa online, but with the help of other travellers, we finally managed.
At the border with Tanzania there were big signs with “One-stop border”, just that it was not ready yet and we had to stop on both sides.
The border to Zambia was finished and we had one modern building where everything was done quickly with no fixers around.
The second time entering Malawi in December, we did the e-visa again, using the same invitation letter with an updated date and we had a guy helping us at the border with the insurance and the payments.

approaching Lake Malawi

Tax & Fees:
we had to pay carbon tax, which was 11,500.- Kwacha (10.- Euros) and 17,000.- the second time. Road tax was 68,- USD! One dollar for 10 potholes maybe? The second time we only payed 20.- USD, no idea why. For sure, not because there are less potholes now.

Insurance:
we bought an Insurance for 40,- USD for a month at an Insurance company next to the border post, where we had to climb through the fence to get there – this is Africa ūüėČ Malawi doesn’t accept a foreign insurance and they check it shortly after the border and send you back, if you don’t have one.

Money:
at the border with Tanzania we could change our money at the black market, otherwise we could mostly pay with credit card (they always tried to add some percent for that) and get money at the ATMs without fee.

Fuel:
we had heard stories about diesel shortage in Malawi, but when we were there, diesel was available at most of the filling stations. More often, petrol was scarce, with queues where it was available. Not every filling station offers card payment, sometimes it doesn’t work, but we always found a station with diesel and card payment.

Roads:
many roads are dotted with deep potholes, others are fine. After a year in Africa we didn’t find the roads that shocking, we had had worse, at least in Zambia.

National Parks:
fees are moderate, but we went to only one, which was Kasungu NP, which felt like empty of animals. When we came from the south on our second visit, we visited Liwonde NP, which was great, especially in combination with the boat trip on the Shire River.

Internet:
we had bought an Airtel Sim Card at Karonga, the first town, as IOverlander had warned us, that they charge much more at the border. The Internet didn’t work very well in many areas.

Police:
there are road blocks regularly, but they mostly waved us through or stopped us for a friendly chat, nobody asked for a bribe. Sometimes they checked the insurance.

Campsites:
we found that there are numerous nice campsite in Malawi, especially at the lake or near Mzuzu and Lilongwe.

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