Maybe not the most exciting city Africa has to offer, but you can keep yourself entertained if you end up staying here for a couple of days.
Lonely Planet says that the best backpackers in town is the Mabuya camp. I personally wouldn’t recommend going there, mainly because of the price. A dorm is $ 9,- and a private room is $ 30,-. The room is literally just 2 beds, no shower, no breakfast. I’ve stayed here 1 night with a friend who really needed a bed (instead of camping) because he got malaria, but we moved to another place the day after.
If you’re camping I recommend staying at the Golf Club. It’s affordable and a nice place to stay and relax. The Golf Club also has tennis, squash and a swimming pool. I also believe you skip on having to pay a MK 6000 fee per day to use the courts, which is a nice way of filling up a lost day.
A few other options are Korean Lodge – with dark rooms and expensive food, but maybe the nicest place to meet up with others in the evening for a drink. The Golden Peacock, that’s where we stayed, it’s 2 minutes away from the Korean Lodge. The rooms are nothing special and the bathrooms are not great. But it’s MK 7000 p.p.p.n. in a private room and the restaurant outside (Everest) is pretty. The Nepalese flags welcome you on your way in and the food is really good.
But my favorite option is probably Saint Peters Church. When I first went to Lilongwe I got a bad impression because of some dirty rooms and the guests that were staying there. But it’s actually really nice. You can use the communal kitchen, breakfast is included (and plenty!), it has a nice garden.. and it’s right next to the church! Where you can attend the English service on sundays and enjoy the choirs singing. On top of that it’s the cheapest place to stay, 4.000 MK per night in a spacious dorm.
Like I mentioned before, the Golf Club is a nice place to go. I took one lesson of tennis with 19 year old Jonathan and payed KW 7300 in total. If you’re staying at the Korean Lodge it’s cheaper – they have a deal with the Golf Club. Jonathan told me about his plans to go to university and study social studies. He is working as a tennis teacher to be able to afford these studies. To help him out I’ve made him a flyer (in Paint!) to spread through the different lodges and guesthouses in town. Give him a call if you want to take a lesson or just need a tennis partner (+265 882 30 40 39).
The Lilongwe Wildlife Park is really nice! It has quite a few rescued animals and a big park/forest to walk around in. It’s a 5 minute tuktuk ride away from Korean Lodge and the costs are MK 3500. You can chill in the lovely garden, get a 1 hour guided tour passed the animals and take all the time you need to find baboons doing funky stuff in the small forest.
Also… Lilongwe has a KFC. A bit of a guilty pleasure after Nsyma and beans might be a nice treat 😉
Cycling from Lilongwe
This is an entire other story, but a few friends and I decided to join the 23 year old Thomas from London on his cycling adventure from Cairo to Cape Town. We figured that the best place to buy a bicycle was Lilongwe. They have a lot of city bikes and a few mountain bikes, either from India or China. Equally shit. You pay around $ 50 for a new bike (that still needs to get put together by a mechanic for $ 5,-) and the bike will last you until.. well.. I’m now writing this from Livingstone – Zambia, but the gears aren’t working anymore and we’ve lost 2 bikes on the road already. If you’re good with fixing bikes, have 1 person that has good tools and if you have a lot of patience + strong legs it’s an amazing adventure! Otherwise I would recommend buying a bike from an expat or just bring one from home 😉