Cycling The Globe

A Cycle Touring Expedition Around The World

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Day 1998, Chipata – Santhe: Into Malawi!

Posted by Thomas Andersen Posted on Apr - 13 - 2016

Distance: 107.8 km
Ride time: 5:19:31
Average: 20.3 km/h
Max speed: 40.7 km/h
Total: 47807 km

I got to spend 10 days in Zambia and think I have managed to get a good understanding of the country, even though I have been cycling through fast. I could certainly see myself coming back to spend some more time! Thanks for the great visit, Zambia!

There is always that bit of tension as you cycle up towards a border. Not that there is anything to fear in Malawi – the country has a reputation of being friendly and peaceful. However, African borders tend to be rather chaotic, and so was this. The money changers were over me as soon as I got near the immigration offices. Malawi has recently introduced a steep 75$ visa fee – 5 days worth of budget out of the pocket just like that. Oh well, at least it is easy and simple to get the visa as long as you pay, unlike the countries in central Africa that I chose not to visit.

On the Malawian side I approached the nicest looking money changers and asked for the rates. The rates were indeed quite good compared to the numbers I had checked on the internet. Since there was now 5 people around me, all forcing their Malawian Kwacha into my hands, I asked if anyone offered a higher rate. One guy offered a bit more, but this resulted in the other four guys literally starting to fight him! I quickly took off…

Since I’m paying a fee every time I take out money from an ATM, I take out the maximu I can each time. This meant I had quite a bit of left over cash from Zambia. In a small kiosk things were luckily much more quiet, and there I was able to exchange my money at the same rate. The biggest note in Malawi is the 1000 Kwacha note, but this only equals 1.45$. Since I was changing almost 200$, I got so many 1000 Kwacha notes that they didn’t fit in my wallet at all. Welcome to Africa 🙂

Out on the road, things looked more or less like Zambia, perhaps with the difference that there are more people in Malawi. It is indeed a very densely populated country.

Looking at Google Maps, road 116 seemed like a nice shortcut. Well, it was great fun and my Specialized handled everything just fine, but I’m not sure it ended up being much of a shortcut.

In the middle of the dirt track I passed a village and was soon enough surrounded by kids yelling and waving. Things are turning pretty African indeed 🙂

At was all in a friendly manner though, and I was soon on the more quiet country side again.

For the night I stopped in yet another small village and was quite surprised to learn that there was a local guest house in town. I was also surprised about the price; 1000 kwacha or 1.45$ for the room for the night – one of the cheapest places I have slept for sure.

With such a beginning to Malawi, I’m Looking forward to see what tomorrow will bring – let the African adventure continue!

Categories: Malawi, Zambia
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One Response so far.

  1. Crowds of people! I guess this is the image I always associate with Africa – a local village, with lots of people ready to greet visitors!

    $1.45! What a bargain!