- the commercial capital of Malawi - is older, and it shows. There
is however a peculiar charm about this bustling city, especially
at jacaranda time when many of the old roads are lined with lilac-blossomed
trees with pools of petals at their feet.
site of the city was attractive to the missionaries and traders
who built it, at a higher altitude that the surrounding land and
ringed by scenic mountains. Blantyre houses the headquarters of
the older and bigger Malawi
businesses while Lilongwe is the seat of government.
Blantyre can be hot and muggy during the rainy season (November
to March) with rain most days. If you travel here after a time at
the lake, the shops will be an attraction.
are hundreds of curio sellers on the streets, but their prices are
higher than those in the rural districts, and they are much harder
bargainers! Visit the Central Africana Gallery and Bookshop on Victoria
Avenue where there is an extensive collection of Africana - including
prints, books and maps.
© Central Africana
to stay include Le
Meridien Mount Soche Hotel. There are also two more modestly
priced hotels - Protea Ryalls and the Protea Shire Highlands. Budget
accommodation is not as readily available as it is at the lake,
but there are several places, including Doogle's
for backpackers, Grace Bandawe Hostel, Chembe, Michiru
and Namiwawa Lodges, Nyambadwe and Chichiri cottages and the Blantyre
Resthouse for travellers on a tight budget. The recent trend has
been to convert large suburban houses to lodges and guest houses,
often quite luxurious and at modest prices. Mount Pleasant House
and Tumbuka Lodge are two within walking distance of the centre.
There are plenty of city centre and suburban restaurants to choose
from - some of them very good indeed - with both Le
Meridien Mount Soche and Ryalls boasting excellent in-house
restaurants and elsewhere a variety of cultural specialities from
round the world, as well as Malawian food.
Blantyre is the Michiru Mountain Conservation Area and not to be
missed are visits to the National Museum, the Wildlife and Environmental
Society Shop, the Macoha Craft Shop with wonderfully woven carpets
and other articles made by handicapped workers.
From Zomba Plateau
university town that used to be the seat of government. Stop on
the way to the lake - it's well orth it - and try to spend at least
a night at Le Meridien Ku Chawe, a fine hotel on the lip of the
Zomba plateau that towers over the little town.
hour's drive from Blantyre, Thyolo is a very pleasant, leafy little
town with distinctly colonial overtones and the wonderful scenery
of tea estates on rolling hillsides. The big Satemwa Guest House,
beautifully sited on a privately owned tea estate, is open to visitors
but make sure to book first.
want to see something of old Africa, visit the Shire Valley in the
southernmost region of Malawi. It's real baobab country and in the
rainy season the heat and the mosquitoes can deter the less adventurous,
but there is plenty to see and do. The Shire River - where a very
large hydroelectric dam has just been completed above Kapachira
Falls - is an attraction in itself. Here are three National Parks
and Wildlife Reserves - Majete, Mwabvi and Lengwe as well as the
superbly photogenic Elephant Marsh.
© Central Africana