11 Tips to Visit Malawi on a Budget: What You Need to Know

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Going on vacation to Africa usually doesn’t cost very much. But, if you’re open-minded and willing to take your time, you don’t have to spend a lot of money for an amazing trip to Malawi. You can also find cheaper alternatives than fancy wilderness hotels.

Unfortunately, most of your travel expenses will go towards your airplane ticket. It won’t be cheap at all! On the other hand, once you arrive in Malawi, which is also known as the “Warm Heart of Africa”, it’s a lot cheaper to travel compared to other places down south on that continent.

Planning to visit Malawi? It’s easy to have a budget-friendly vacation and still be able to experience the country’s amazing sights and attractions. Whether you’re wanting to spot animals like lions, tigers, elephants, or rhinos (known as the Big Five), observe migratory birds, or relax by the shores of Lake Malawi, here are 11 tips that can help save money on your trip.

“Explore Malawi

The main way to get to Malawi is by plane, and you can choose from airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines or Kenya Airways for the lowest prices. Another option is to fly into either Lusaka in Zambia or Maputo in Mozambique, and then drive across the border into Malawi. Nyika National Park looks beautiful during the off-peak green season; however it can be quite rainy.

Enjoy the Natural Wonders of Nyika National Park During Low & Shoulder Season!

If you travel during the low or shoulder season, which is from November to June, you can save a lot of money. However, some beaches and properties at national parks may be closed because of hot weather or heavy rains. You can still have fun though by going bird watching and taking pictures in Nyika National Park!

Discover Malawi on a Budget

Travelling around Malawi doesn’t have to be expensive. A great way to save money is to rent a 4×4 Hilux vehicle with camping gear, a rooftop tent and supplies like a satellite phone and extra tires. Plus, you don’t need to worry—the roads are easy to follow and some are even paved.

If you booked a trip, you can ask your tour operator to transfer you between different destinations. For a cheaper option, you can use coaches that travel all across the country – although the journey will take longer than with a private car. You might need to spend more time on some parts of the journey but it’s also an opportunity for you to make new friends!

Take A Trip To The Exotic Island of Likoma With The Legendary MV Ilala and Likoma Express!

If you want to get to the lovely island of Likoma in Lake Malawi, jump on board the 1950s steamer ferry MV Ilala – although it’s not fancy, tickets start from only US$7.25. An even faster but more expensive option is the Likoma Express boat that launched in February 2023. Once you’ve arrived at the shore of this island, you can hang out with lots of different people at the Mango Drift hostel bar where a dorm bed is priced at US$10, or if you’d prefer camping instead then it’s only US$6 a night.

“Get an Unforgettable Adventure in Malawi at an Unbelievably Low Price!”

Travel companies try to show-off with their fancy and expensive packages all the time. But, finding a budget travel plan that’s better than what you can get on the internet or from a guidebook is hard. Crafted Africa offers great deals on trips to Malawi and has become popular because it makes rustic adventures so cheap.

Make Your Journey Through Malawi More Cost-Effective – Rent a Car with a Friend!

If you travel alone, it’s more expensive than if you go with someone. The same is true for Malawi! Sharing the cost of renting a car can save you money and make your journey more comfortable – without needing to take public buses or taxis by yourself.

Exploring Malawi on a Budget

If you want to explore Malawi, there are great places to stay like wilderness lodges; however, they can be expensive. There are also some affordable options, like backpacker lodges and hostels. If you don’t have your own tent, many lodges provide them for a small fee. You could even take a budget-saving self-drive safari within the parks or around any of the lakeshore cities.

Exploring Malawi on a Budget

Malawi is a great place to explore on your own by car. You don’t need an expert guide or Jeep because there are national parks so you can save money. Reading about the area and being alert behind the wheel is a good option for budget travelers.

Majete National Park is a great spot for seeing the Big Five animals, and it is going to cost you $30 in entry fees. Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve has many elephants and costs visitors $10 plus a car fee of between $3 and $15 depending on how much the car weighs. There’s also a cool campground called Chipata Mountain that everyone can enjoy.

Enjoy Deliciouscuisine in Malawi – A Local’s Guide to Cheap and Tasty Eats!

Most food in Malawi is really good and cheap. If you’re near the lake, it’s a great place to find fresh fish with chips for your meal. The local fish (called ‘chambo’) can cost around $4-$8, depending on where you are eating.

Remember that Malawi’s fish population, a yummy source of food for local people, has been getting less and less because of too much fishing and changes in the climate. Another cheap way to get yummy food is at Indian restaurants; there are lots of immigrants living in Malawi who make delicious meals that don’t cost much.

Explore UNESCO Sites and Mt

Malawi has many fun, cheap (or free!) attractions. For example, you can see ancient paintings at the Chongoni Rock Art Area. It’s special enough to be listed as a UNESCO site and it doesn’t get too many visitors. If you want some help looking at the art, there’s a pottery shop nearby that hires out people who know the area to guide you around for only ten dollars per person.

Mt Mulanje in Malawi looks a lot like Kilimanjaro and is not as expensive yet still beautiful! Check out the cool picture of it on Shutterstock.

Explore the Trails of Malawi and Climb Mt Mulanje

Malawi is the perfect place for a good hike without having to spend money. You can go on walks through fields of green tea in Thyolo or explore the trails that run along Zomba Plateau. For those really adventurous spirits, Mt Mulanje is Malawi’s version of Kilimanjaro and it is the highest mountain south of Tanzania.

Mulanje is a great place to go hiking. If you hire a guide and book yourself some mountain hut accommodation, it’ll only cost around 25 dollars per day – much cheaper than the entrance fee for Kilimanjaro (which is 70 dollars every single day!). Getting cooks and porters will add between 100- 150 dollars per day, depending on how big your group of people is. There’s a mountain called Sapitwa Peak that takes three days and two nights to climb, but you don’t need special skills to do it. You might even be lucky enough to have the top completely to yourself!

Budget-Friendly Getaway

Hostel room: about $10-20 per night for a dorm bed.Basic room for two people: around $30-50 for the entire stay.Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): from $80 and up. Taking the bus from Lilongwe to Liwonde: approximately $15 each way. Having coffee out: ranging from $1-4 depending on the cafe.Buying a sandwich at a shop: averages to be around $3-5 each time. Going out to dinner with someone: usually between $30-40 in total.Getting a beer/pint of beer at the bar: costing you roughly $1.50 – 3 per glass.

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