Lilongwe is the capital of Malawi.The capital of Malawi, Lilongwe has a population of circa 902,388. It’s a very green city, to the extent that sometimes you wonder if there is a city centre at all as buildings in the new town at least are divided by patches of grassy land and trees. Lilongwe is divided into the Old Town (to the South) and the New Town (to the North) with the Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary between the two. The Old Town is built around the former village of Lilongwe, while the New Town (also called City Centre or Capital City) sprung up after first president Dr. Hastings Banda moved the capital from Zomba to Lilongwe. The quality of the roads is excellent compared to countries like Kenya and traffic doesn’t tend to be too much of a problem at all.Lilongwe’s Kamuzu International Airport (LLW) fields regular flights to Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, Nairobi and domestic services to Blantyre on Air Malawi and Swiftair operates domestic schedules on Boeing 737 between Lilongwe and Blantyre and Regional flights to Johannesburg. Fastjet , a low-cost airline based in Tanzania also flies to Lilongwe twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, from its hub in Dar es Salaam, where you can connect to its other Tanzanian domestic and international services. For neighboring Zambia, there are flights both to capital Lusaka and safari destination Mfuwe through the two main Air Charter companies (Nyassa Air Taxi & Executive Air Charters). There is no airport fee. The fee is apparently now included in the airline ticket.The airport is about a 30/40 minute drive north of town and the taxis charge around K4500 (US$20) for the journey from Old Town (presuming you’re staying in one of the lodges). This can decrease if you get the taxi from Capital City.Lilongwe is about 110 kilometers from Mchinji on the Zambian border. Taxis are expensive (around $50, depending on your bargaining skills), but you can use a minibus or open back truck (matola) for MK500/600.There are two bus companies serve Dar-Es Salaam-Lilongwe direction twice a week. The buses usually lack maintenance which makes the time schedule unreliable.Malawi should improve its transport.Kob’s Coach runs from Lusaka in Zambia to Lilongwe twice a week, departing Su/W 05:00.AXA runs a daily express bus (4hr30min, K9,800), leaving Mzuzu at 06:00. Other services take 7-9hr, including a night bus by AXA, leaving Mzuzu at 18:00 and arriving at 03:00.The town is very spread out so getting around can be a bit of a chore. You can pick up taxis from the Lilongwe Hotel (in the Old Town) and the Capital Hotel (in the Capital City). If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a minibus. It’s very cheap, but you will be getting very familiar with your fellow passengers. There are several routes you can take, including one that goes from the large blue bank in the new town and drops you off in the heart of the old town, next to Shoprite surpermarket.Lilongwe wildlife centre: on the opposite side of the road to the old nature sanctuary. Its back down towards old town by the bridge over the river, look out for the sign. Its a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre that provides a tour of the rescued animals. Self guided hiking trails wind throughout the property. Volunteer opportunities are available .At Kumbali Cultural Centre [tel: 0999-933-252] see the traditional Malawian dancing and traditional Malawian drumming. Includes live acoustic Malawian music and traditional Malawian dinner.Malawian Kwacha comes in denominations of 1000,500,200,100,50 and 20. $1= 700 MK as of June 2016. Hotels and Foreign Exchange Bureau will readily change Dollars,Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen and Indian Rupee. ATMs are common within Lilongwe, maximum withdrawal of 40000 MK on a single transaction, however it is recommended to carry Malawian Kwacha if you are travelling outside Lilongwe, due to absence of ATMs and lower exchange rates w.r.t to DollarsIf you’re interested in volunteering with animals,the LSPCA (Lilongwe Society for the Protection & Care of Animals) takes volunteers from various backgrounds including veterinary, IT, marketing and animal care/management.The volunteer programme is an affordable with a minimal commitment of 2 weeks required. With a shortage of vets available to the majority of Lilongwe’s residents, the LSPCA undertakes vital work in Lilongwe in helping to promote higher animal welfare standards of domestic and farm animals. As a volunteer, your work would include visiting local schools to educate them about the importance of animal health and care, community vaccination clinics (rabies and Newcastle disease), spay and neuter clinics, and farm day clinics.There are many local cafes, especially in Area 2, serving cheap meals such as rice/chicke/nsmia/beef.Shoprite and Spar also have deli counters with hot food, sandwiches and a bakery.If you’re not feeling eating out, there’s also a pizza delivery service run from Debonairs at Crossroads. 0991630464/0993810397. Between MK900 for small to MK2400 for large pizzas. Also offer hot subs. Minimum delivery is normally MK4400.Drinking is a lot of locals favourite past times, most are friendly however girls should be wary of over-protective Malawian men!The only beer brewed in Malawi (bar Chibuku – a grainy, sand like beer coming in cartons!) is Carlsberg. Carlsberg is very local (brewed in Blantyre) and comes either normal (known as a ‘Green’) or Special Brew, Classic, Stout, Elephant or Light. You can also buy ‘Kuche Kuche’ – still brewed by Carlsberg but coming in a bigger bottle, less percentage and aimed more for tourists. Glass bottles come in a deposit form in Malawi (so expect to pay MK25 extra per bottle, unless you return some). It is possible to buy other beers in certain bars and clubs – for example Castle, Carling Black Label, Kronenbourg and Heinekin. However these are more expensive. Ciders and wines also are available but are imported and more expensive.Malawi also has it’s own spirits – notably Malawi Vodka, Malawi Gin (suprisingly this is very good quality gin!), Malawi Rum, Gold Label Brandy or the upmarket Premium Brandy and the cane spirit Powers. These are all cheap spirits per bottle, Powers and Gold Label Brandy normally MK600 a bottle. Mixing with the sugary, very tasty Fanta always works and you see many locals doing this! The Vodka, Gin and Powers can also all be bought in 30ml sachet forms.Harry’s Bar, in the old town, is a good place to have a drink and a burger during the day or to slam Malawi gin and tonic with an energetic local and expat crowd on weekend nights. More of a pre-drink place.Airtel and TNM are the two major providers of Telecom Services. Airtel has wide 3G coverage with speeds decent enough to support Maps and Video streaming. Prepaid SIM cards are widely available as for as low 500 MK($1= 700 MK as of June 2016). 1GB data costs about 2500 MK. Prepaid SIM cards are available without Identity cards. Airtel Money and TNM Money are widely accepted.Transport is not always easy to get at late hours of the night so always make sure you have means of transport to getting back to where you’re staying. Taxis are available. Lilongwe is said to be unsafe at night so don’t walk alone after dark.
Airport: LLW Lilongwe International Airport Cities in Madagascar