Juliane Starke’s updates (received March 08)

Hi travellers and guide updaters,

I spent two weeks travelling in Malawi and 4 weeks working there (in
Chikwawa) this january/february. I found the Malawi Bradt guide very
helpful!!! Nevertheless I want to send you some up to date information
which I found to be different from the guide.

Here you go:

Lilongwe: Annie’s Coffee Pot does not rent dorms in the moment due to
renovation. (probably this condition won’t last too long).

Trip Lilongwe to the lake shore (Nhkotakota): possible from Blantyre in a one
days ride for those who rush, it is a good choice to take the road via
Ntchisi. Transfer from Liliongwe to Ntchisi is fast by minibus as the asphalt
road is in perfect condition. There you catch a pick up as no minibuses
go on the rough road combining Ntchisi and Maromba (small town with a
few shops at the intersection of the Ntchisi road and the M18).

Especially in the rainy season (or just after it) no minibuses leave
Maromba (I was told they neither do from Kasungu…). But you can catch
a pickup again (the last around 6:30 p.m.). Passing the Wildlife reserve
to Nhkotakota it was worth taking the pickup as the road became a rough
road just 1 km behind Maromba…due to heavy rain falls the condition
was all right for the pick up but not more. After little more than 1
hour one leaves the Wildlife reserve – the road is an asphalt road again
and after 10 minutes one reaches Nk. Especially if one travels in the
darkness it is a rather adventurous option, but I never felt anxious
(exept for the thunders)…

Nhkotakota: The Council Resthouse is all right for sleeping just one
night there. otherwise I would not choose it again (really grotty).
Prices rose to 500 kw. The second Livingstone monument beside the tree
(a memorial stone) is situated on the lake shore … very close to the
beach.

Sani Beach Resort can be recommended, too. Nice walk (~1h) from the M5
to the resort. Bike taxis available. Delicious food, prepared by a very
kind cook from Sambia. In case Eric the head of the resort needs to
travel, a lift is available to the M5.

Minibus travelling: By march a bill was abandoned implementing the “one
seat one person order”. Prices rose by at least a quarter and it is
difficult to just catch a minibus between stops.

Zomba plateau: It was quite difficult to recognize the potato path. Maybe it helps to plot a “hut sign” behind Kuchawe Inn for easier access. The stone cottage close to CHitingi Camp we weren’t able to find … but it was foggy…

Mulanje Massif: the path down from Lichenya hut to Nessi (the one
leading to the minimini tea estate) is wonderful, although quite
challenging in terms of __looking for and finding, resp., alternative
paths in case the rivers are too elevated.

The road to Likhubula is under construction. Getting off a pick up is
therefore a little away from the village but people guide you.

Blantyre: in doogles the recent dorm price was: 795 kw, rooms 2100 kw,
Wenelas lodge: one room each 1500 kw and 2500 kw, two rooms for 3200 kw
all incl. a meager breakfast.
the map with the african book shop, La Hostaria etc. is a little
confusing…did those places move? Now, I found them on the right side
50m after kidney crescent took a turn to the right (about 800 m after
having left Kamuzu highway) in a yard like place.
prices to Chikwawa: now 390 kw (minibus)

Chikwawa: parallel to the road that branches off the M1 (in dynarode)
there is a wonderful path leading you in the direction of Chikwawa. It
reunites the asphalt road again a few meters before you reach the police
station, passing a small church. Access the path just before reaching
the center of dynarode. Coming from the bridge that crosses the Shire
you pass a petrol station on the right, just some meters further there
is a settlement of well-kept family houses (look new with gardens).
There you enter and just head north. Wonderful trail to do bird watching!
in Dynarode there are a few resthouses with small cheap rooms…rather
less attractive. There is a newly opened comfortabel resthouse “Vasco
Millinyu Guesthouse” with rooms between 1300 and 1500 kw (sg/db shared
facilities) without breakfast. Tel.: 01420449, cell: 05490970. A
restaurant is attached. Another good option is Matechanga Motel which
belongs to the same familiy that owns the Matechanga Motel in Chikwawa.
The first one (with a big Baobab tree) offers rooms from 750 to 3500 kw
incl. english breakfast (rather large serving). Except for the cheap
rooms there is breakfast and s/c sgl/dbl. Food can be ordered whole day
round, there is a bar as well as a conference room. A tailor is
attached, too.

Without a own vehicle the area north of the M1 can be accessed by bike
taxi. once a day a bus (small) leaves dynarode in the direction of
Majete Wildlife Reserve in either direction. (morning (in the direction
of M1) and late afternoon (vice versa)).

Without a vehicle renting a bike is an option, too (if one can cope with
curious and laughing people who find it still strange that a “Mzungu”
goes by bike her/hisself. Going by bike is a real pleasure (provided you
have enough to drink and got used to the sun already a little bit).
rental fee: 300 to 400 kw/day but sometimes breaks aren’t in good
conditions…check the bike! if the tire breaks it is usually no problem
close to the villages due to many bike repair shops. during the journey
there is always somebody supporting with “first bike aid”. finally I can
totally agree with the mentioned experiences in the guide.
destinations on the bike: Majete Wildlife Reserve: 1:15h ride from
Chikwawa. coming from the M1 just head north. after passing the Chikwawa
“town center” turn left on the one bigger junction. then just follow the
big rough road through an undulating area along maize fields and
villages. A short cut for “insiders” branches left opposite of the
hospital entrance and leads through the village. rare shadow. majete
wildlife reserve is very well-kept. an information center is in
developement. there are new activities for visitors, incl. community
visits. attractive to those interested in game (by car only!) or the
shire (Kapichiri falls). Accomodation is available. two campsites are
established but you can spend the night in your own mosquito net under
the sky, too (“bush tents” are provided). informations or booking
options: info@africanparksmw.com. site: www.majete.org, phone: +265 9
521 741. entrance fee 1000 kw for residence and 2000 kw for tourists
(both foreigners). cold drinks cost 100 kw (an additional tax incl.).

Nchalo: 2 hours ride, little shadow along an asphalt road, rather flat.
Nyala park is now accessible with cars only, too. (A snake bit a woman
one a bike…).
Sucoma Sugar estate: it unfortunately was not possible to visit the
factory. Again 30-45 minutes ride to the sports club. Daily fee has
risen to 1500 kw (incl. guarding the bike ;-). Really posh and rather
suitable for meeting whites or Hispanics instead of Malawians. Food is
delicious but portions are not too generous.

Maybe a word referring to malaria: after having used mefloquine once
without problems, I this time experienced those strange side effects…I
head for Doxycycline or Malerone the next time!!! A mosquito net is
essential on the lake shore – the nets there were in bad conditions …
all the other places had good nets, except doogles having none.

Take care, Juliane

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