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Blantyre

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Blantyre is the economic capital of Malawi.

Understand[edit]

Blantyre originates from the birth place of the missionary Dr David Livingston, who was born in Blantyre, Scotland. Blantyre is the main commercial city in Malawi.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Chileka International Airport (BLZ) is located about 16km (9 mi) north of the city, about a 6000 MWK (~23 USD) taxi ride.

South African Airways has four flights per week between Johannesburg (South-Africa) and Blantyre. Air Malawi also flies to JNB, s well as Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Harare (Zimbabwe), Lusaka (Zambia), and Nairobi (Kenya).

Swiftair had five flights a week between Johannesburg ( South Africa) and Blantyre and operates scheduled flights between Lilongwe and Blantyre on a Boeing 737 (out of service now) http//www.swiftairmalawi.com

By train[edit]

By car[edit]

Take the M1 south from Lilongwe.

By bus[edit]

From Lilongwe International Airport get a luxury bus to Blantyre Bus depot on Chileka Road. If you prefer a cheaper option from Lilongwe, head to the bus depot in the old town area. From there you will have a wide selection of coaches heading south. National Bus and Axa (k2000, August 2012) are the most reputable companies, but there are plenty of other options, too.

From Jo-burg there are 24 hour luxury buses to Blantyre.

Buses from Harare (approx 8 hours) are also available.

By boat[edit]

Get around[edit]

For the budget traveller there are bascially two ways of getting around Blantyre. By foot or by minibuses. By day it is quite safe to walk around Blantyre provided you don't look like a rich tourist, in which case you may be unpleasantly tailed by street vendors and beggars. It is possible to explore the entire city of Blantyre on foot within a couple of days, and unless you are travelling to Limbe or to the outer suburbs of Blantyre, then it is unlikely you'll require even the minibus. In the event that you do, then minibuses are very cheap, travelling between Blantyre and Limbe costs MK 150 (as of August 2012). Alternatively you may consider hiring a bicyle if you are that way inclined. It is unsafe to walk around Blantyre during the night and we would recommend that you obtain the phone numbers of a few reliable taxi drivers (talk to some of the locals). Taxis are relatively more expensive, and the price also depends on how far the driver has to come to pick you up, but this is much preferable to being mugged in a dark Blantyre street late at night. As a general rule all taxi drivers begin at the Mount Soche Hotel.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Mandala House home of the La Caverna Art Gallery and cafe. It is at the top of the hill on the other side of the river from downtown. The building is one of the oldest in Blantyre and beautiful, as are the spacious grounds. There's plenty of outside seating and a children's playground too. The cafe serves $6-8 lunches, various coffees, ice-cream, and cake. Hours are 8:30am to 4:15pm M-F, and Saturday morning. The gallery has some great carvings and pictures, and there's also a museum section upstairs, which is apparently open in the mornings.
  • St Michael and All Angels Church, PO Box 413, CCAP Blantyre Mission (off the old Chileka Road, up the hill from the clock tower roundabout, past the bus station and private hospital on your left and then next left), 0881 635 111, [1]. Once described as the first permanent church between the Zambezi and the Nile this church was designed by a Scottish missionary helped by local workers. He, David Scott, had no architectural or building experience at all and had no written plans. This was just as well as The Church of Scotland would have stopped his plans had they known how ambitious they were. He was also writing a language dictionary at the time of building. This also is where Blantyre was founded when a local chief gave land to the Scottish missionaries and a slave freed by David Livingstone.  edit


Do[edit][add listing]

  • Blantyre Tours (http://www.blantyretours.com/), P.O.Box 1252, Blantyre, Malawi, +265 (0)9344617, [2]. Take a local tour of Blantyre with one of Malawi's most successful artists, Hussein Gopole. Hussein is a regular character on Malawi's radio stations, he recently performed in 'Mercy Madonna': a play at the Edinburgh Festival and he set up and runs the 'Village Cultural Troupe', Malawi's no. 1 dance troupe. He hails from Limbe and gives local tours of the city's townships, uncovering the best of Blantyre's secrets.  edit
  • Record a Song, Synod Offices, CCAP Blantyre Mission, Chileka Road, PO Box 413 (Get yourself first to St Michael and All Angels Church. From the front door face down the hill and ahead and on your left you will see some offices. Go in and check that they are the the Synod Offices and ask for the recording studios or the music director). 8am - 4.30pm. Did Malawi put a song into your heart? Why not go straight to a very reasonably priced recording studio and proceed directly onto stardom. Ask for the music director at the Synod offices and see the prices on offer.  edit


Learn[edit]

  • Society of Malawi [3] (Situated above the Mandala House) is a great place to visit if you enjoy a quiet, historic place to research life both past and present in Malawi and Africa in general. The library and archives are open weekdays from 9 to 12 and the last Thursday of the month from 6-7:30PM. See their website for more updated details regarding special functions, a searchable index of scholarly papers available, etc.

Work[edit]

Buy[edit][add listing]

Blantyre is the commercial center of Malawi and travelers come in from all over the region (including neighboring Mozambique) to stock up on supplies--food, construction materials, electronics, etc. The downtown area is full of Asian (Indian) run shops, as is nearby Limbe. A bustling market area popular with locals offers all kinds of fruits, veggies, used clothing, construction materials, etc. on the cheap. Newer Western-style shops are available for those who just want to get in and get out (i.e. Game and Shoprite at Chichiri). Savers Choice is a well-stocked Asian run store heading toward Limbe that caters to the expat community with hard-to-find food items, a good bakery, an ice-cream bar and candy shop. Prices for the same thing can often vary from shop to shop and an abundance of counterfeited products flood the market, so it's best to shop around and stay on guard.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • Vendors are all over the streets in Blantyre. They sell a range of food items from fried chips, chicken, etc. to hard boiled eggs, bread (mostly milkscone variety and yellow buns), biscuits (locally made from Universal Industries), and so on. Plenty of ripe fruit and vegetables are also readily available for a good price. On the whole, however, street food is nowhere near as tasty as many other African countries tend to offer.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Alem Ethiopian Restaurant, in the heart of the busy city Alem offers Malawian favorites (like nsima with rice, chicken and chips, etc.) as well as authentic Ethiopian dishes served in bowls straight from Ethiopia. Ethiopian coffee, served with cloves and salt, is a must-have for any coffee lover. The owners, friendly Ethiopians themselves, have been running the restaurant for over ten years.
  • Aub's Steakhouse, operated by new arrivals from South Africa, rivals 21 Grill for the best steak in the city. This is the only place where the servings are so large, you might actually have to leave some food on the plate! A good assortment of steak, seafood, and other fare. Half of the restaurant is a sports bar with bigscreen T.V. while the other half hosts a children's play area with T.V. and a Western theme. Open for lunch and dinner every day. Phone 09960628/09966507.
  • Baba Delhi Darbar, heavenly tasty indian food with a wide variety of vegetarian meals. Situated in the city of Blantyre at Victoria Avenue close to Mt. Soche Hotel.
  • Blue Savannah, fast foods and takeaway, located at the site of Eclipse Lodge (close to Mt. Soche and Air Malawi). Great pizza, chips and burgers. In the same complex, opening soon, is a homemade ice cream shop, bakery, expat grocery store, sit-down fancy restaurant and coffee shop (by mid to late 2007). Phone 08827613.
  • Scoops & Shakes, For homemade Ice Cream in exotic flavours also milk shakes, Thick shakes, Juices, Coffee's waffles and crepes. Try our ice cream made with 100% natural ingredients. Is situated at the site of Malawi Sun Hotel & Conference Centre (close to Mt. Soche and Air Malawi.) Phone: 08827613.
  • Cappineros offers a relaxing outdoor or indoor setting just a short ride from downtown Blantyre, but far enough away that it feels out of the city. To get there just go past the casino and you'll see the entrance on the right (if coming from downtown Blantyre). As of 2007 they have free salsa lessons every Tuesday night beginning at 7.00PM. Phone: 08 843 892
  • Chez Maky, a delightful out-of-the-way respite from the city, is a great place to get together with business associates or a few friends (space is available for conferences). Situated on a multi-level wooden deck protected from rain, the proprietor is a delightful host originally from Cameroon who makes everyone feel right at home. Grilled meat is particularly well-done here (some of the best in the country) and real coffee with desserts are a nice addition to any meal. Located on Kabula Hill Road past Seventh Day Adventist Hospital (just go past the hospital, which will be on your right, go on the road straight till you see a sign on your left, go straight on that road, third house on your left. Open every day from 8 to 10pm. Phone: 09203029, 01833764
  • China Da Restaurant and Lodge is a newly opened restaurant, the largest Chinese restaurant in town with an expansive menu. The roast duck is a must try. They are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and meals can be had for less than 1000 MWK. There are 5 private dining rooms for parties, complete with television and karaoke. A full liquor bar serves Western spirits as well as Chinese varieties. For a truly luxurious experience, go for a Chinese massage in the attached massage parlor before you enjoy dinner. The location is very convenient, centrally located between Blantyre and Limbe, directly across the street from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. The address is Ginnery corner (Johnstone Road) behind People's Trading Center. Phone 0888953333 01880882 Email carey808020@hotmail.com
  • China Sunrise, opened in 2006, offers mainland style Chinese food available in the city. A converted residential home offers a quiet, relaxing atmosphere with plenty of male waiters eager to serve. Phone: 08 352 746. To find China Sunrise, proceed to Mwaiwathu Hospital and head toward the direction of Chileka Airport. Perhaps a kilometer or two past Mwaiwathu on the left there is a sign directing you to the place, which will wind you a bit into a housing area.
  • Curry Corner, located at Chichiri Shopping Center in Blantyre. Authentic Indian Cuisine also serves non curries. Fully stocked bar. Next to Shoprite and Game stores. Serves lunches, dinners and take outs. Open seven days a week. Call : 0888843291 / 0995422224 / 01919310. Alternatively drop a line at currycorner@africa-online.net. Here every meal is a unique experience, with a wide selection of dishes to suite every taste and budget.
  • 'The Spicy Flavors Restaurant (formerly known as Royal Taj)', offers pure vegetarian Indian cuisine. Highly recommended. Plot no BC 48 Livingstone Avenue. Cell 08 201 768 / 04 108 821.
  • Greens, rumored to be among the best in town for grilled meat, braii style. Warning to families: the restaurant opens late and will not allow children.
  • Hong Kong is an old favorite of many in town who enjoy Chinese canton cuisine. Currently run by a friendly Chinese lady from Hong Kong and her American husband. This pagoda style restaurant has been in Blantyre for over 40 years and has always been a family business serving over 100 well portioned dishes. The interior resembles the inside of the emperor's palace by Tiananmen Square. The chef is from Hong Kong and has been with the restaurant since it opened. Situated almost right next to Mt. Soche Hotel. Phone: 01 820 859
  • Hungry Lion, found in the Shoprite complex opposite Chichiri Stadium, is a favorite with Malawians because of the simple chicken and chips menu it offers. A franchise, this location is often so pitiful (unless you only want an ice cream cone) that some visitors who don't like the long wait or poor operation in general have stopped giving it a go altogether.
  • Jungle Pepper Pizzaria is the place for a wide assortment of pizza and various toppings. Very tasty! Currently the seating is limited and mainly outdoors (up the hill from Portugalia/formerly Nandos). But in mid 2008 they plan to move to the Chichiri shopping complex which will offer much better seating and yummy pizzas. Great for take-away too. Phone: 08 826 229
  • Portugalia, formerly known as Nandos but now no longer a part of that chain. A popular destination for anyone traveling by minibus but a headache to those driving their own vehicle. This restaurant is famous for the blends of Lemon Herb or Peri-Peri chicken. The setting is very busy, but now that the vendors have been removed much quieter than formerly. Once inside the store you can forget the crowd of minibuses right outside and enjoy pita wraps, chicken and chips, pine nut burgers, and more. An adult meal (children's also available) will cost about about 700 kwacha ($5-7).
  • Royal Taj Phone: 01 822 376
  • Salvatores Situated in the premises of Villa 33 Salvatores is an Italian influenced restaurant onsite with a large outdoor eating area that overlooks the gardens it is favoured as a meeting place for both locals and visitors and lends itself perfectly to elegantly informal entertaining, be it a relaxed lunch with friends or a sumptuous romantic dinner. Email: View the menu online by visiting the website [4]

Splurge[edit]

  • 21 Grill, at Ryalls Hotel. The attention the servers give you is alone worth a reason to go (far superior to most other places where 'service' is not really a thing people know about). Kudos to 21 Grill for their terrific food AND service! Phone: 01 820 955.
  • Bombay Palace, opposite Ryalls Hotel, offers delicious authentic Indian cuisine. Reservations are recommended as it can be busy on weekend evenings. Phone: 08 200 200
  • L'Hostaria, in a new location (as of 2004), is THE place to go if authentic Italian is your thing. With plenty of space for hosting special parties, the food is very good with service to match. Phone: 01 636 025.
  • Jungle Pepper Pizzeria, Opened in 1997....has moved to Chichiri Shopping Centre (Shoprite) within the food court. Lots of seating area and lots of yummy pizzas. Phone: 0888826229
  • Aub's Steakhouse, Opened 2007 (The former the Pizza Palace), serves lunch and dinner everyday, has childrens playroom. Phone: 09960628/09966507

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Doogles
  • Mustang Sally. Very up-market bar/club located near the casino. Featuring an indoor swimming pool alongside the bar as well as a highly impressive and ever expanding collection of whiskeys.  edit
  • Blue Elephant. Very busy bar at weekends, easily accessible from doogles lodge by taxi for about MK700.  edit
  • Twigga Lounge. Popular club, 5 minutes walk from Blue Elephant. Has a pool table and shisha on offer for MK600. Often charging a MK500 entrance fee.  edit


Sleep[edit][add listing]

Prices unknown for the following:

  • Malawi Sun Hotel & Conference Centre Phone: 01 830 069/01 824 808
  • Chichiri Lodge Phone: 01 672 365
  • Colony Club Phone: 01 823 283
  • Eclipse Lodge Phone: 01 821 555
  • Indaba Exec Lounge Phone: 01 657 643
  • Kanjedza Lodge Phone: 01 642 500
  • Michiru Lodge Phone: 01 669 038
  • Mount Pleasant Inn Phone: 01 878 188
  • Namiwawa Lodge Phone: 01 669 069
  • Nalis Lodge Phone: 01 643 603
  • Shire Highlands Phone: 01 640 055
  • Superior Hotel Phone: 01 621 700


  • Grace Bandawe Conference Centre, (old) Chileka Road, PO Box 413, Blantyre (from the centre of town turn left (up the hill) from the Clock Tower roundabout onto Chileka Road. Pass the bus depot and Mwaiwathu private hospital on your left. Go straight through traffic lights and under a footbridge and it is next on your right - opposite Phoenix International Primary School), +265 (0) 1 834 267, [5]. A quiet place near St Michael and All Angels Church and run by the CCAP (Church of Central Africa Presbyterian). Nice place for a quiet coffee in their gardens and grounds even if you don't stop for the night. USD 30 - USD 50.  edit
  • House Five, (Turn into Kabula Hill Road and drive to the end of the tar. House Five is directly ahead at the double gates.), +265 (0) 888 901 762, [6]. Beautiful accommodation with gardens and views.  edit


  • Mulanje Pepper, chitakale, Mulanje, Malawi, 0888878830. Tastiest wood fired pizzas after a day out Climbing Mount Mulanje 800. (,3000) edit

Budget[edit]

  • Doogles, Mulonga place, near the bus station, Phone: 0888876574, this South-African run place is a travellers meeting place and fairly cheap. Very popular among expatriates and is quite lively around happy hour. Rooms start from 10 USD/night. Wi-fi access, pool, convenient location. Highly recommended.
  • Kabula Hill Lodge: An old family run establishment 10 minutes walking distance from the centre of Blantyre. Rooms start from 15 USD/night. Standard rooms have two single beds and common bathroom facilities. If you would like to have one of the cheap rooms it is recommended to book at least 6-8 weeks in advance and confirm by email, though they have been known to overbook. All rooms have ordinary mosquito nets (no permethrin). There is a laundry and ironing service (MK1000), but take tough clothes, as everything is done by hand! Safe-keeping facilities are available and US dollars can usually be exhanged for Kwacha if necessary. Skyband wi-fi access on patio, though you must purchase access cards (MK 500 for 30 minutes). Turn left at the top of Victoria Avenue (where the Mount Soche Hotel is) and walk approx. 100m up Glynn Jones Road. Turn right onto Kabula Hill Road (follow the signs) and then turn left onto Michiru Road. Walk up then down the hill and you will reach two unsealed dirt roads proceeding left. Both are signposted, the second leads to Kabula Hill Lodge which is the second-to-last residence at the end of this road. Do not walk this road after sunset, call a taxi. Phone: 01 821 216 Email: kabulalodge@africa-online.net, kabulalodge@yahoo.com

Mid-range[edit]

  • Villa 33, +265999960231 (), [7]. Comfortable accommodation in recently renovated, en-suite rooms. The premises has secure parking and each room is equipped with TV, fan, electronic safe and Queen size beds. All rooms can connect to the internet through a wireless hotspot. Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis and they offer free laundry facilities. Price for a room is $60 on a bed and breakfast basis. Self-catering apartments are also available. The lodge is 3km from the city center.  edit
  • Malawi Sun Hotel & Conference Centre, +265995632621 (, fax: 01830718), [8]. checkout: 10am. A favourite among international and local guests alike. Malawi Sun Hotel & Conference is a unique blend of ethnic beauty, excellent cuisine and the warm service of Malawi (the Warm Heart of Africa). This hotel has secure parking, DSTV, wifi internet, laundry facilities, room safes, a fast food outlet, an ice-cream parlour, a convenience store, a gaming arcade and two exquisite restaurants. US$126+.  edit
  • China Da Lodge, 0888953333. a newly opened lodge that has single and double rooms complete with private bathrooms (clean hot showers) and cable television. Price of room inludes free western or Chinese breakfast. There is free wi-fi access in all rooms. An attached massage parlor is available. The location is especially convenient for physicians, as it is located directly across the street from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. It is advisable to book a room in advance. US$30 for a single room, US$35 for a double room.  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • Le Meridien Mount Soche Phone: 01 820 588
  • Ryalls Hotel Phone: 01 820 955
  • Hotel Victoria Phone: 01 823 500

Stay safe[edit]

Night time muggings or robberies do occur. Private taxis are cheap and readily available. Ask around and bargain.

Contact[edit]

There is an internet cafe (and library) near Phoenix International School. Come off Chileka Road either at St Michael and All Angels Church or at Phoenix School. From there ask around for directions to the 'Resource Centre and Library' - or failing that ask for directions to Phoenix School.

From the Phoenix International School entrance itself you would head down the gentle slope (away from the main road - which would be down a steeper slope) and there is a building directly in front of you. That is where the internet cafe, resource centre and library is located. The entrance to the school faces directly towards the Phoenix School gates.

Lewis (mob: 0999 220 572) is the manager and will quickly get you online for a modest fee.

Cope[edit]

Consulates[edit]

  • Gr-flag.png Greece, P.O. Box. 1740, Blantyre, +265 187-5494 (fax: +265 187-5494).  edit

Get out[edit]



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