Driving in Malawi
Driving is on the left, as in the UK, and the speed limit in urban areas is 50kmph (equivalent to about 30mph), and outside the towns 80kmph (50mph). The majority of the main roads are generally very good, though off the main roads are rutted and potholed, making driving slow and dangerous. Secondary roads are usually graded dirt. Some are well maintained and easy to drive on in a normal car; others are bad, especially after rain, and slow even with a 4WD. Rural routes are not so good, and after heavy rain are often impassable. Several lodges along the lakeshore have poor access roads that need a 4WD. The same goes for the country’s national parks and wildlife reserves. The best plan may be to hire a local driver with the necessary knowledge and experience.
Many car-hire companies operate out of Blantyre and Lilongwe. If you decide to rent a vehicle, take a good look under the bonnet before you drive off, and check the state of all tyres including the spare. You should also be provided with two reflective triangles and a fire extinguisher, as you are legally required to carry them, and police may ask for them at checkpoints.
Bring your own vehicle & Driving Licence
Most international drivers’ licenses are accepted in Malawi. If you’re bringing a car into Malawi from any other country without a carnet, a temporary import permit (TIP) costs MK10,000 and compulsory third-party insurance is USD25 for one month. There’s also a USD20 Road Access Fee – you must produce the documentation for this if you are driving the car out.