Operations & Marketing Manager of Land & Lake Safaris
12 Sep 2018
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Malawi is probably one of the best countries to head out onto the road and self-explore. You can choose to go all out with a fully kitted camping 4x4 vehicle and take the roads less known, cruise from lodge to lodge in a saloon vehicle, or a combination of the the two. Our Malawi holidays can be tailored to suit you and if you enjoy the independence of a self-drive trip, over guided transfers, that's easily arranged.
Labeled the ‘friendliest country in the world’ Malawi is over 45,000 sq miles, with an estimated population of over 18 million. With Lake Malawi taking up a third of Malawi’s land-mass, it basically means that very few areas in Malawi are truly remote. This means that, whilst driving across the country can be an exciting challenge, it's also very easy for less experienced drivers (in terms of changing tyres, seeking someone with roadside mechanical skills, or help with directions).
This can also make driving slower going, as you pass villages and busy trading centres, overflowing with a myriad of human interactions; from markets, to cattle grazing, maize grinding and roadside cooking. The journey is never dull, as you navigate your way round dogs and goats, a few select potholes and a minibus or two, but you need to keep your wits about you.
As a woman of 27, I’ve grown up in Malawi. Receiving my Malawi driving license at 18, I have travelled both alone, with clients and friends all over this country. The road network is easy to use and navigate, with the knowledge that you’ll always have the lake on one side of you. The main roads that connect up all major cities are tarred and, with the increase in vehicles and infrastructure in the country, more roads are being tarred, widened, repaired and re-built on a frequent basis.
The things to watch out for are the roadside hazards - the animals, people, children, broken-down trucks and, unfortunately, the driving ability of other road users. The older northern routes have plenty of potholes and narrow sections – but don’t let this put you off! We highly recommend a self-drive adventure in Malawi, but go carefully, take your time and enjoy the views and the journey, because it’s an experience you'll never forget.
You might pay a bit more when hiring a vehicle in Malawi, but this comes with the territory and many companies provide rescue and replacement services, 24hr emergency calls, 90% insurance cover and advice and tips on routes and services you may require.
So grab the wheel and enjoy the flat, open tarmac roads, or test your 4x4 driving abilities with rocky dirt tracks and steep winding mountain passes, which boast some of the best views in Africa. Have fun visiting bustling towns and cities that open your eyes to the colours and traditions of the country, or drive to the sparkling shores of Lake Malawi for a well deserved rest after your self-driving adventures.
Malawi, both North and South, is truly worth a visit, and with a choice of Malawi accommodation and camping options to suit your budget you can hit the road with your ideal detailed itinerary in hand!
It’s a journey of self-discovery, and in a trusty vehicle with google maps, Malawi is at your fingertips!