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Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

Canby, Oregon
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Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

My wife and I are going to Zulunkhuni River Lodge. In order to get there we must hike or take a river bus to the lodge from Nkhata Bay. How would be the best way into Nkhata Bay from Chipata? Also if you are knowledgable on Zulunkhuni River Lodge, best way into the lodge?

12 replies to this topic
Blantyre
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1. Re: Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

Hi- from Chipata get a bus to Lilongwe, Overnight in Lilongwe. Then get a bus the next day to Mzuzu or Nkhata Bay- leave early in the morning. From Nkhata Bay you can organise a boat to Zulunkuni.

Have a great time.

Kate

Lilongwe Hotel Ideas: www.explore-malawi.com/hotels-in-lilongwe

Sheffield, United...
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2. Re: Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

Hi, If looking for budget in Lilongwe, then try https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/lilongwe-chat/KVvmjAk5Lyw[1-25] contact by phone only unfortunately

Ivan

Dallas
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3. Re: Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

Hi Micah,

You have 3 choices that I know of to get to Zulunkhuni:

1) Hike south from Mlowe, which is ~3 miles down a dirt track south of Chiweta. Chiweta is at the bottom of the escarpment on the M1 north of Mzuzu. This is typically a 3 day hike.

2) Minibus from Mzuzu to Usisya, then hike to Ruarwe or arrange a local boat. Length of the hike depends on your fitness level; people report from 4 to 8+ hours. Local boat may or may not be available. Be prepared to overnight in Usisya rather than exhaust yourselves.

For either hike, keep in mind the sun and the need to carry or treat water.

3) Boat from Nkhata Bay. If the Ilala ferry is running on it's regular schedule, it goes north early on Sunday morning, south from Ruarwe on Monday midday. Contact BigBlueStar Backpackers or one of the other Nkhata Bay lodges to inquire about the current situation.

I would suggest getting in touch with Zulunkhuni (either Blessings by phone or Charlie by email) at Zulukhuni about arranging boat transport. Contact info is on their website (I've heard that Blessings is not available on Fridays or Saturdays.) You may need to figure out the boat once you arrive in Nkhata Bay.

We took the ferry to Zulukhuni and a private boat arranged by Zulunkhuni staff to get back. The price was not too prohibitive for 4 people, but the ride was long and very basic (no toilet, etc.) If you don't already have it, I recommend a Skype subscription for phoning Malawi. The $6 or $12 per month is definitely worth it when trying to get these things sorted out.

Lastly: in spite of what may seem like a hassle, we thought Zulunkhuni was definitely worth the effort!

Edited: 11 August 2012, 23:53
Canby, Oregon
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4. Re: Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

Thank you Sebastian for the help for the journey to Zulukhuni. On the Usisya hike, what is the terrian like for the hike? My Wife and I are both young and fit.

Dallas
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5. Re: Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

I have not done it. But the stretch from Zulunkhuni to Ruarwe is up/down, up/down. Rocky dirt path, some boulders in the way. This trail is the path used by villagers along the lakeshore. If you google "hike Ruarwe" and "hike Usisya" you will find lots of blogs about this route.

Dallas
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6. Re: Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

To expand: our local boat was a largish (15-20 foot) dinghy with a canopy, outboard motor, and lifejackets but no toilets, food, or water (bring your own). Boards across and foam pads on the bottom for seating. Ruarwe to Nkhata Bay took about 7 hours,. We put in to shore several times for fuel and used private chimbudzi's (outhouses) when needed. Although a fairly calm day, there was still a fair amount of chop at times.

Edited: 12 August 2012, 18:03
Dallas
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7. Re: Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

Just a head's up: the Ilala Ferry is currently out of service, for how long not known. There was a report in the MalawiVoice on Aug. 2nd that a substitute ferry would be put into service on August 20th. The folks at Kaya Mawa (Likoma Island) confirm the ferry outage, but don't know anything about the substitute ferry service.

Edited: 17 August 2012, 01:04
Canby, Oregon
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8. Re: Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

Thank you very much... We are going to try to take a bus from Mzuzu to Usisya, and then try to do the hike from there, Or local boat. Is there a place to overnight in Usisya and or Mzuzu?

Dallas
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9. Re: Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

Plenty of places in Mzuzu. We used Pine Tree B & B and the Flame Tree Inn. Both basic but clean. Of the two, we preferred Pine Tree but it is a ways out of town along the road to Nkhata Bay. They do have their own very good restaurant, but it would probably be difficult to catch the minibus to Usisya from there. For very cheap and basic, our son uses CCAP. There's also the Mzoozoo Zoo, which is supposed to have good food these days. The A-1 Indian Restaurant is quite good as well.

Cannot offer anything on Usisya although I have seen online references to some sort of accommodation there.

Dallas
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10. Re: Travel to Nkhata Bay, Malawi from Chipata, Zambia

Update: I'm told that the "minibus" might be more of a truck/matola. And that the hike is ~15 km from Usisya to Ruarwe. Hope this helps.

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