Johnie does Malawi – Part 1: Summary

By Johnie Jonker

Summary for dummies

We arrived back home safely after a 23 day round trip to Malawi with a convoy of 3 vehicles – Colt 2.8 double cab, Toyota Fortuner 4l V6 with Echo 4 offroad trailer and our HSE 3.2 i6 Freelander 2.

As a brief summary of what will be a more detailed trip report, the following:

The map is courtesy Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google, and we did a clockwise circuit with a few compulsory backtracks.

Malawi tour


The route comprised border crossings at Beitbridge, Machipanda, Dedza and Zobue, and covered a distance of 5625km for ourselves, although the other convoy members travelled further – Johannesburg and Ceres, respectively.

The Freelander returning a consumption of 8.12 km/l at a fuel cost of R8359.

Generally fuel is cheaper across the border than here, but the exchange rate you get when drawing money at an ATM robs you of the advantage. E.g., at a Standard Bank ATM in Lilongwe, you will get 21.5 Kwacha for a Rand, but an exchange rate of K24 is easily achievable – just not at the bank.

Also, we entered Malawi 5 days after the latest fuel shortage was announced. We knew this before we started off, but was not going to let a triviality such as this stand in our way. This however meant that on occasion we had to buy fuel on the black market as the pumps were empty – generally because the black market dealers had bought up all the fuel.

The prices were therefore inflated, but not horribly so, ranging from 20 – 30% above pump price. I did have an emergency supply of spare fuel – 20l under the boot floor – but never had to use this.

The furthest north we went was to the Nyika Plateau.

We stayed in the three adjoining chalets, and the visitor’s book in our neigbouring unit, had an entry by Kingsley Holgate, who had also recently visited there.

This does not necessarily mean that Mr Holgate can now swop his Discovery for a more nimble Freelander 2, but I would like to think so.

More detail will follow when the journey is broken up into a number of destinations: Lilongwe, Nyika, Livingstonia, Lake Malawi west coast, Cape Mclear/Domwe Island, Zomba, Zimbabwe Ruins and of course the journey and stop-overs.

It will include info on road conditions, how to get fuel when the pumps are dry, accommodation, food, and images of the places visited.

Hopefully this will be of use to other potential overlanders.

Part 2 to follow


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