Entering Malawi was a welcome surprise – the first country we entered where we didn’t have all sorts of fees to pay when we crossed the border. Finally our COMESA insurance was paying off, and neither of us needed visas for the tourist friendly country!
Malawi’s official currency is the Malawian Kwacha, and at the time we travelled was approximately MWK350 = $1 (Approx. MWK530 = £1). There was a good banking network – Standard Bank and NBS Bank both had presence in most places – and we tended to draw money from ATMs.
We expected huge poverty and lack of provisions coming into Malawi, and so we had stocked up in Chipata, Zambia before crossing the border. We needn’t have worried. On arriving in Lilongwe, we had a choice of both Spar and Shoprite! Although it was a little more expensive, we could at least buy provisions. However, the best place for day to day shopping was at the numerous markets, which were inexpensive and the quality of fruit and vegetables was great. Our daily food cost was £6.
We also ate out a little more than previously. Most restaurants had a vegetarian option of “rice, beans and greens” or just rice and beans which was very filling and less than MKW1,000 (less than $3). It meant a tasty, filling meal without dealing with potentially dodgy meat!
Accommodation in Malawi was also inexpensive: on average we paid $5 per person per night. Occasionally we found campsites which were $3 per person per night. We baulked when camping headed to $10 per person per night!! Facilities at campsites varied greatly, but we managed to find a fair few which were of “South Africa” standard, with electricity and good ablutions.
Fuel availability wasn’t a problem at all – although it was a little more expensive. We paid MKW658 per litre, which is £1.30 / $1.88. But, the distances in Malawi are not so large, and we only travelled 2,400km in the 5 weeks we spent there. Our daily fuel cost was £8 per day.
Together with other small expenses and souvenirs, our average daily spend in Malawi was a very impressive £30 per day – which really helped to balance the high daily cost in Botswana!