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Self Driving in Malawi - it's really quite easy

The perfect way to explore Malawi



Operations & Marketing Manager of Land & Lake Safaris
Published on

12 Sept 2018

Updated on

22 Apr 2021

Fully Kitted Out Hilux Perfect For Self Driving In Malawi

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.

A Luxury Safari In Malawi In A Fully Kitted Out Hilux
Self driving doesn't mean you have to forgo luxury - a fully kitted out Hilux

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).

Lake Malawi Shores
Lake Malawi covers a third of the country

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.

A Typical Road In Malawi
A typical road in Malawi

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.

Local Villages On Lake Malawi
Local villages on Lake Malawi

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.

Watermelons In Malawi
Roadside watermelons are often seen in Malawi

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.

A Hillside Village In Malawi
Just one of the rural scenes you'll see whilst driving through Malawi

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!

Wondering when to visit? Take a look at this guide on the best time to visit Malawi.

Looking for some more inspiration? Take a look at our best safari holidays ideas, our favourite family safaris, our big five safari guide or our top African safari honeymoon suggestions.

Start planning your tailor-made Malawi safari – call us on 01768 603 715 and speak with a Malawi travel expert.

Speak To Our Malawi Expert

Start planning your own tailor-made trip to Malawi

  • Alistair


    Managing Director

  • Ali


    Malawi Specialist

Call an expert on

01768 603 715

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