Tour d’Afrique

Malawi Gin

Mbeya to Lilongwe

Malawi Gin

Start: March 28, Mbeya, Tanzania
Finish: April 4, Lilongwe, Malawi
Price: €900
Distance: 878km
Riding Days: 7 days
Resting Days: 1 days

This entirely paved Tour section highlights the poor but visually stunning country of Malawi. Known as the “Warm Heart of Africa,” Malawi sits astride and rises away from the huge expanse of Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest lake, which is home to many breeds of aquarium fish.

Once you set out from Iringa, it will still take a few days to get to Malawi, but the ride across southern Tanzania is definitely worth it. You will cycle through pine and hardwood forests towards Mbeya, and thence into Tanzania’s breadbasket near Tukuyu, where undulating verdant hills teem with tea plantations and banana and avocado trees. The scenery is breath taking as you start whizzing down the long descent into the Rift Valley, towards the Lake in the distance.

After crossing into Malawi the Tour follows the shoreline past fishing villages to Chitemba Beach, which has been a haven for Africa Overlanders for many years. Malawi is especially well known for its skilled hardwood carvers, and here you’ll find a large crafts market with beautifully made walking sticks, chairs, “trees of life,” and other carvings. Whatever you do – be it swimming, wandering down the beach, socializing in the bar-restaurant, or just reading a book, Chitemba Beach offers a wonderful respite from the journey.

Leaving Lake Malawi you climb up the escarpment into the central plateau en route to the provincial capital of Mzuzu. Don’t be surprised to find yourself pedaling alongside some of Malawi’s many cycling farmers, as they transport chickens, grain, and just about anything between their villages and the nearest market. Then the riders swoop back down to the shores of Lake Malawi and a well-earned rest day at Kandi Beach.

After climbing back up to the plateau and the sleepy town of Kasungu. you arrive at popular Mabuya Camp in the capital city, Lilongwe, which marks a rest day and the end of this section. Here, riders can visit a nearby shopping centre, surf the net, haggle for handicrafts, or just kick back with a few delicious Carlsberg beers or a shot of the more sinister Malawi Gin. 

Malawi’s altitude moderates what would otherwise be a tropical climate. Riders can expect high humidity along the lake, and temperate days on the plateau, with a few heavy showers, some lighter rainfall, and periods of intense sunshine. By the time the Tour reaches Lilongwe in early April the rainy season should be almost over.

Countries: Malawi and Tanzania

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