Country 49/196: Malawi
Destinations: Cape Maclear and Lilongwe
Malawi is a rather small country but it has a lot to offer. We will always remember it as one of the most sustainability-oriented countries in Africa, maybe just because we have had the pleasure of meeting lots of great people, who really care about the environment and their communities. 🙂
Things to see and things to do
Malawi is home to many beautiful sites, among which Lake Malawi is considered the most popular one.
Lilongwe to Cape Maclear
We flew in at Lilongwe Airport. First, we had to find a ride to the city. There are no buses to take you there, so we had to get a taxi, which was quite expensive (the usual rate from the airport to the city center is 30 USD). Once we got to the main bus station, we found a mini-bus (or the mini-bus found us) to Monkey Bay – a small town just outside the Lake Malawi National Park. We got into the almost full mini-bus at 1 pm, but it was only at 5 pm that we actually left the city. We were waiting for four hours because the driver wanted his bus to leave last, as this way people desperate to reach their destination by the evening would be willing to pay more and wouldn’t mind the crowd (there were 20 of us in a mini-bus for 12 people). Needless to say, it wasn’t the best experience. At least it was pretty cheap – we paid 20 USD for both of us. At Monkey Bay we got a taxi to the lodge in Cape Maclear.
On our way back to the capital we decided to take a taxi to take us all the way to our hotel in Lilongwe. We paid 80 USD and it was well worth it. 🙂
If you need a ride from Cape Maclear to Lilongwe or the other way around at a reasonable price, make sure to contact Andrew Bita (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Cape Maclear and Lake Malawi
Cape Maclear is a lovely small town on the southern shore of Lake Malawi inside the Lake Malawi National Park, and the most popular tourist destination on the lake. Even though it is the rainy season from November to April, there were quite a few visitors in the town, but it was far from crowded.
During our stay, we took a boat ride on the lake. We visited the iconic island of Thumbi and the Otter Point – a beautiful beach with spectacular rocks located on the far western side of Cape Maclear Nature Reserve. We went jumping from the rocks and we fed some fish – it was pretty cool. 🙂
Back on the shore, we explored the town of Cape Maclear. The authentic, lovely town is stretched along the beach and as we soon realized, the locals depend on the lake. They use it for bathing, doing the dishes, the laundry, and for fishing.
We were staying at the super laid-back Mgoza lodge
. The place is a backpacker’s paradise. Cozy bungalows, lots of cute little tables around the pool, and a big common area with a restaurant, a library, and a movie projector, where weary travelers can hang out and relax. All of that right on the beach. It is run by Alan, a great guy, who is doing his best to help the local community and to make Cape Maclear a sustainable destination.
But he is not the only one sharing the vision of Cape Maclear becoming a sustainable tourist destination. With frequent clean-up initiatives, a recycling shop, and numerous volunteer programs it seems that the whole community is working really hard towards achieving that great goal. Way to go, Cape Maclear! 😉
Other than that, Cape Maclear is one of the most relaxed places on Earth. Life is super slow here. You go to a restaurant, order food, and then you have enough time to go to the beach, take a swim, sit on a hammock overlooking the lake, and read a chapter or two of your favorite book before your lunch is ready. 😉 You gotta love it! 🙂
We didn’t spend much time in the capital of Malawi, as we had too much fun in Cape Maclear and therefore we weren’t in a hurry to get back to the city. In fact, we only drove through the seemingly modern, loud, and vibrant capital. On our last day, we spent the night in Eden Estates
– a lovely, super romantic lodge in the suburbs. Wow! We wish we would have found this place sooner because the lodge and its premises are superb! They have two pools, a huge garden with lots of small private sitting areas, a stylish restaurant, and a big pond where you can feed the ducks and watch the sunset. It’s a great place for couples and families to spend a few days away from the city noise. 🙂
Where to stay
There are plenty of accommodation options for all kinds of travelers to be found in Malawi.
Are you planning a trip to Malawi? Here you can get a room with a 10% discount!
30 USD (25.5 EUR) a day is the minimum basic budget in Malawi. Accommodation prices start at 15 USD (13 EUR) a night. Food prices are relatively cheap, especially if you eat roadside or in local restaurants. Public transportation prices are also affordable, of course, depending on the distance. We paid 10 USD per person for a bus ride from Lilongwe to Cape Maclear.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Malawi is from early May to late October – during the drier winter months. It may get chilly on the northern Nyika Plateau, but on the shore of Lake Malawi, it tends to be warm and sunny.
Even though Cape Maclear is doing such a great job in achieving sustainability, Malawi is still far from being environmental-problem-free. Malawi has one of the highest rates of annual deforestation in Africa, mostly due to the high population density causing the need for fuelwood, agricultural lands, and urbanization. Severe deforestation causes soil erosion, which contaminates the country’s freshwater bodies (along with untreated sewage disposal and industrial/agricultural overflow) and affects the wildlife. Poaching continues to be a problem in the protected areas. Only 64% of the population has access to potable water and 62% has access to improved sanitation.
Romance and adventure
Malawi is an increasingly popular destination for backpackers, however, adventurous honeymooners may also find it pretty awesome. The shore of Lake Malawi offers countless romantic sights and unforgettable adventures.
Found lots of LOVE in Malawi. 😉 ♥
Honeymoon rating of the visited destinations: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♡♡♡
The laid-back tropical vibe, the typical African positivity, countless beautiful sights, and a chance to meet some really amazing people are pretty good reasons to choose Malawi as your honeymoon destination. 🙂
* Note: This is NOT a general rating of the country, it is merely our personal opinion of the mentioned site(s) as honeymoon destinations, based on the level of tourism development, the number and quality of romantic and adventurous activities and sites it offers, and safety. We strongly believe that every country is beautiful in its own way, they may simply be more or less honeymoon oriented/friendly.
** Follow the journey on Instagram
. 😉 There you can see our clean-up stories and check out our peace and sustainable tourism promo photos/videos. 😉
*** Use the form on the sidebar to subscribe to our newsletter and get a free customized e-postcard from every country! 🙂