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Budget Guide To Malawi – Africa’s Budget Destination

Malawean Kwachas - Approx. 280 €

Malawean Kwachas – Approx. 280 €

Type Of Travel

This travel in Malawi was a classical two-week trip with pleasant mid-range type of accommodation. On top, we rented a car. Three nights we even stayed in very nice, but pricey lodges.

Itinerary & Time Of The Visit

In August 2014 we traveled Malawi, named after the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. We crossed the border coming from the south, from Tete in Mozambique. These are the places we visited: Blantyre, Liwonde Natonal Park, Chongoni Rock Painting Area, Lilongwe, Nkhotakota, Nkhata Bay, Livingstonia and last but not least South Viphya Forest Reserve.

Having only two weeks, we decided to rent a car and drive ourselves, which gave us great flexibility and the possibility to go Off The Beaten Track.

Global Budget

Without the costs for international fights and visa fees, we spent 1.260 € per person for 14 days, that means 90 € per person per day, including some souvenirs… Here you find the break down of expenditures!

Costs per Person per Day in €
Long Distances’ Transport € 36,70
Short Distances’ Transport €  0,00
Total Transport € 36,70
Hotels € 24,00
Restaurants & Food € 16,40
Drinks & Going Out €   0,00
Every Day Life (& Souvenirs) €   6,30
Total Living € 46,70
Visits & Tours €   2,40
Activities €   4,30
Total Tours & Activities €   6,70
Total Country: € 90,10


There is a wide range of accommodation available in Malawi, from Backpacker Hostels to High-End Lodges, and a real choice of Midrange guesthouses, something we had very seldom experienced in Africa. So every budget should find the right type and price of accommodation.

Moreover, prices are fairly reasonable for Africa, which was something new for us… We spent on average 48 € per nights, including 3 nights in expensive Lodges in National Parks or Reserves. A very fair value considering the quality of accommodation we enjoyed.

City Name Type of Accommodation Type ofRoom Price per Night (€) Evaluation(1 to 5 Stars)
Blantyre Kabula Lodge Guesthouse Double Room € 48,50 ***
Liwonde NP Bushman’s Baobabs Lodge Luxury Tent € 68,60 ***
Lilongwe Mabuya Camp Hostel Double Room € 35,60 **
Nkhotakota Fish Eagle Lodge Lodge Double Room € 40,00 *****
Nkhata Bay Aqua Africa Hostel Double Room € 27,70 ***
Livinstonia The Mushroom Farm Hostel / Lodge Luxury Tent € 19,10 ****
Mzimba Luwawa Forest Lodge Lodge Double Room € 109,10 ***
Lilongwe Korea Garden Lodge Hotel Double Room € 60,20 ****

Restaurants & Food

We spent on average 9,40 € per person per meal. Considering that we several times splurged, and all in all enjoyed good food and regular evening drinks, this seems absolutely reasonable for the type of travel we had chosen and the quality we got.

City Restaurant Name Type Of
Type Of
Per Person (€)
Blantyre Kabula Lodge Dinner Hostel 8,90 **
Blantyre Steers & Debonairs Pizza Lunch Fast Food 5,30 **
Liwonde national Park Bushman’s Baobabs Dinner Lodge 15,40 ****
Dezda Pottery Lodge Lunch Lodge 7,20 **
Lilongwe Land&Lake Safaris Breakfast Restaurant 10,10 ****
Nkhotakota Fish Eagle Lodge Lunch + Dinner Lodge 6,70 ****
Nkhotakota Nkhotakota Cultural / Youth Center Lunch Restaurant 3,40 ***
Nkhata Bay Aqua Africa Lunch Restaurant 5,20 ***
Nkhata Bay Mayoka Village Beach Lodge Dinner Hostel 4,40 ***
Livingstonia Livingstonia Lodges Lunch Hostel 5,80 ***
Livingstonia The Mushroom Farm Dinner (2) +
Breakfast (2)
Hostel 7,40 ****
Mzuzu Joy’s Place Lunch Hostel 6,40 **
Mzimba Luwawa Forest Loadge Dinner Lodge 20,10 **
Kasungu Kasungu Inn Lunch Hostel 4,40 **
Lilongwe Korea Garden Lodge Lunch + Dinner Hostel 7,80 ***

Drinks & Going Out

This is included in the Part Restaurants and Food.


Except when we entered Malawi from Mozambique, we had a rented car from Country Wide Malawi: a Suzuki Jimny, a small 4WD. The 4WD in itself was definitely not necessary, but the high clearance and the robustness of a 4WD were definitely no luxury in some parts of the trip (the ones more Off The Beaten Track) – Especially if you plan to go to Livingstonia, there is no way around it. We would definitely recommend to book this type of car, as it is ideal for 2 people.

We paid 59,10 € per day for the car rental, with insurance and on average 145 km per day (you pay for each kilometer, but the price is quite attractive).

From To Type of Transport Distance
Travel Duration
Tete Blantyre Bus 215 07:30
Blantyre Liwonde National Park Car 140 02:45
Liwonde National Park Lilongwe Car 270 05:00
Lilongwe Nkhotakota Car 230 03:15
Nkhotakota Nkhata Bay Car 230 03:40
Nkhata Bay Livingstonia Car 200 04:40
Livingstonia Mzuzu Car 135 03:50
Mzuzu Mzimba (Luwawa Forest Lodge) Car 110 01:35
Mzimba (Luwawa Forest Lodge) M1 Highway Car 18 01:00
Mzimba Lilongwe Car 240 04:30
Luwawa Forest Lodge, on the way from Livingstonia to Lilongwe

Our Suzuki Jimny

Tours & Activities

The only tours we did in Malawi were in Liwonde National Park (very disappointing) and in Chongoni Rock Art Areas.

We went twice scuba diving in Nkhata Bay. Especially the Night Dive (50 USD) was spectacular.

Splurge At Reasonable Costs?

Renting a car was the biggest luxury we allowed us. It was a significant budget, but enabled us to be fully flexible, to win much time and to reach areas that we would have hardly reached, even with much time.

You can find very pleasant guesthouses and hotels in Malawi for a relatively reasonable price, so there again, splurging a little won’t kill (too much) your budget.

Reduce Costs?

Of course you can significantly reduce spendings by traveling on public transport and by only choosing hostels, that you can find in all major points of interest.

Malawi is actually the first country in Africa were we discovered a large network of good hostels, enabling backpacker on a budget to have a reasonable level of comfort for a reasonable price.

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2 Responses to Budget Guide To Malawi – Africa’s Budget Destination

  1. Karen 22. October 2019 at 14:41 #

    Ok, this may be five years out of date but it is fantastic information. I am so glad I found this whilst planning my trip. It points me in the right direction for prices. Many thanks.

    • Gilles Barbier 22. October 2019 at 22:05 #

      Thank you Karen.
      Do not hesitate if you have any questions
      Cheers, Gilles