Getting there & away
The Lake Malawi steamboat Ilala stops at both Cóbuè and Metangula on the Mozambican mainland. If you’re planning a visit you must get your passport stamped at the immigration post in Chipyela (the main village) on Likoma Island.
Another way to get to the Mozambican lakeshore is to take a dhow (local sailing boat) from Likoma Island to Cóbuè (US$0.80).
The Songea ferry sails from Mbamba Bay (Tanzania) to Nkhata Bay on Malawi’s northern lakeshore every Saturday. The journey takes around four hours and fares for 1st-/economy-class deck are US$11/6.50. Cabins are available and children travel for US$3.
The quickest way to reach Mozambique south of the Zambezi is to get a minibus to the Mozambique border crossing at Zóbuè (zob-way; US$2.50 from Mwanza) and then a minibus to Tete (US$1.50). Otherwise, from the Dedza border crossing, 85km southeast of Lingowe, chapas run to Tete via Ulongwé.
There are three border crossings from Malawi into northern Mozambique: regular buses run from Blantyre, via Mulanje, to Muloza (US$2). From here, you walk 1km to the Mozambique border crossing at Milange, from where it’s another few kilometres into Milange vila (town) itself. From Milange there’s usually a chapa (pick-up or converted minibus) or truck about every other day in the dry season to Mocuba (US$4), where you can find transport on to Quelimane or Nampula.
You could also take a minibus from Mangochi to Namwera (US$2), then take a bicycle taxi for the remaining 10km to the Malawian border at Chiponde (US$3). It’s then 7km to the Mozambique border crossing at Mandimba. There’s at least one vehicle daily, usually a truck, between here and Cuamba (US$4) and daily vehicles to Lichinga.
Another option is to go by minibus from Liwonde to the border at Nayuchi (US$3). You can walk to the Mozambique border post at Entre Lagos and possibly to hitch to Cuamba. Yet another option is to take a passenger train, which departs Limbe on Wednesdays at 7am, travelling via Balaka and Liwonde to Nayuchi. From here (where there are moneychangers) you can walk to Entre Lagos, but transport from here into Mozambique is limited.
If you need to get to South Africa, City to City and Translux (for both 09-937499) run direct luxury coaches from Blantyre to Jo’burg every day between them, for US$40 to US$50. Vaal Africa (01-621265) also operates a service between Blantyre and Jo’burg on Tuesday and Sunday for US$80. All companies depart at 9am, arriving in Jo’burg by mid-afternoon the next day. Ingwe (01-622313, 01-829879) runs services to Jo’burg on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for US$86.
If you want to go the whole way between Lilongwe and Dar es Salaam, two buses a week (Tuesday and Saturday) depart from opposite the market in Lilongwe. There’s a ticket office where you can book; fares are US$33. These buses also pick up and drop off in Mzuzu and Mbeya (Tanzania) and are handy for going between northern Malawi and southern Tanzania.
If you’re going in stages, buses and minibuses run between Mzuzu and Karonga (US$4, 3½ hours), from where minibuses and matolas travel to the Songwe border crossing (US$1.30). It’s 200m across the bridge to the Tanzanian border crossing.
There are three direct buses per week between Lilongwe and Lusaka (US$25), also departing from Devil St. There is no specific office so ask at the Tanzanian bus ticket office for information. Regular minibuses run between Lilongwe and Mchinji (US$2). From here, it’s 12km to the border. Local shared taxis shuttle between Mchinji and the border post for around US$1.50 per person, or US$8 for the whole car.
Although Zimbabwe doesn’t border Malawi, many travellers go directly between the two countries. The cheapest option is the daily Munorurama Bus (01-6248735), between Blantyre and Harare (US$15). The bus departs opposite the main bus station at 7.30am and arrives in Harare by late afternoon. The service is good and on Wednesday and Saturday it continues all the way to Jo’burg (US$38).
Malawi’s main airport for international flights is at Lilongwe. Airlines flying to and from Malawi include Air Malawi (www.airmalawi.net), which has a pretty good regional network, with three flights a week to Harare, two flights a week to both Lusaka and Johannesburg (Jo’burg). The following regional airlines also serve Malawi, usually flying on the days Air Malawi doesn’t (so you get a wider choice of flights), with fares mostly on a par: South African Airways (www.flysaa.com) flies twice per week to/from Jo’burg (with connections to Durban, Cape Town etc); Kenya Airways (www.kenya-airways.com) flies four times per week to/from Nairobi.