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Nkhata Bay

Travel Guide Africa Malawi Nkhata Bay

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Introduction

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This small town on the shores of Lake Malawi (also known as Lake Nyasa) is one of the few places on the Cairo to Cape route that attracts significant numbers of independent travellers. The nickname "Lake of 1,000 Stars" comes from the many nocturnal fishermen using paraffin lamps to lure their catch. Apart from offering the chance for freshwater scuba diving, the town is otherwise all about relaxation. Note that the one ATM in town only accepts Visa cards.

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Sights and Activities

Lake Malawi (also known as Lake Nyasa) contains many species of cichlid fish. The cichlids provide evidence of evolutionary radiation, with the different species having evolved as a result of the varying environmental conditions to be found within the lake. There are a couple of dive shops in the town, which can kit you out to see the cichlids at close quarters.

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Getting There

By Plane

The closest functioning airport is at Lilongwe.

By Bus

It takes about an hour to get from Mzuzu by matatu (minibus), costing MK350 (July 2009). There are many throughout the day. Note that the driver will only stop in the centre of town so don't bother trying to disembark early. There is one AXA bus per day in each direction costing MK250 (July 2009), departing Mzuzu at about 6:30AM and Nkhata Bay at about 1PM.

By Boat

The Ilala ferry stops at Nkhata Bay once per week in each direction.

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Getting Around

By Foot

Nkhata Bay is, in the main, small enough to traverse on foot. The exception is if you are staying at one of the resorts at the southern end, such as Mayoka Village, in which case the walk to/from there with luggage might not appeal. A taxi will cost about MK700 (July 2009). Note that, while walking around Nkhata Bay - especially the stretch to Mayoka Village - you will inevitably be accosted by Rasta guys at some point. Though they are entertaining to talk to, the conversation will eventually turn to their handicrafts stalls or some other attempt to obtain money. Also be aware of the existence of drugs scams, i.e. someone will sell you some weed then will attempt to blackmail you by threatening to tell the police.

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Eat

Meals are available in all the accommodation and there are tourist-oriented restaurants in the town. These are all, of course, much more expensive than the local restaurants. Try nsima, a maize stodge common throughout East Africa that's worth experiencing once. Chambo is any one of four edible species of cichlid fish, but note that overfishing and pollution are causing a decline in its numbers.

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Drink

All the accommodation has bars but you can buy alcohol from the supermarket for half the price - remember to take the bottles back for the deposit.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Aqua AfricaP/Box 209 Oilcom RoadHotel-
Big Blue Starpo box 110 northern regionHostel-
Njaya LodgeBox 223 Chikale BeachGUESTHOUSE-
  • Mayoka Village - +265) 0999268595/01994025, mayokavillage@yahoo.co.uk or gandkwiggill@gmail.com. Mayoka Village sprawls across a hillside at the south end of Nkhata Bay. There are several spots to relax beside the lake waters, and a lively bar/restaurant. It is popular with younger independent travellers - if you are seeking somewhere quiet, Big Blue Star would be a better choice. Rooms at Mayoka range from camping (US$5pp) to dorms ($6pp) to chalets ($10/12pp) to stone cottages ($20pp) - by no means the cheapest in the area but a reflection of the good quality.

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Keep Connected

Internet

The cheapest place in town is in the centre (address unknown) and costs MK300 per hour (July 2009). At Jessie's (next door to Big Blue Star), the cost is MK480 per hour (July 2009).

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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This is version 6. Last edited at 2:18 on May 24, 13 by sleepBot. 4 articles link to this page.

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