Blantyre, Malawi - Stein Travel
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Blantyre

Named after Dr. Livingstone's birthplace in Scotland, Blantyre is Malawi's commercial centre and capital of the country's Southern Region, as well as the Blantyre District. It has a modest but influential expatriate community of people, mainly from England, other European countries and South Africa. The city is also home to the College of Medicine, the Malawi Polytechnic, the Kamuzu College of Nursing and constituent colleges of the University of Malawi.

Mount Soche and the Ndirande, Chiradzulu and Michiru mountains overlook Blantyre, forming the Michiru Mountain Conservation Area. The National Museum is midway between Blantyre and Limbe and houses a collection of traditional weapons and artefacts, as well as exhibits relating to traditional dance, European exploration and slavery. There are various restaurants and hotels in Blantyre, as well as pubs and sports bars. Most visitors to Malawi end up in Blantyre eventually and it's a good place to relax, do a bit of shopping and get a decent meal. Incidentally, Blantyre is twinned with Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England.

Information & Facts

Climate

Winter is the best time to visit Malawi, coinciding with the dry season, and lasting from May to October. The dry season is also the best time for game viewing and hiking. June and July are the coolest months with average daytime temperatures of 70ºF (21ºC), and colder nights especially in the highlands. November to April is the hot, humid rainy season with more rain falling on the higher plateaus than around the lake, with temperatures reaching up to 90ºF (mid-30ºCs). Some roads may become impassable during heavy rains.

Getting Around

You can travel around Malawi by air, road, rail or boat. Distances between major centres are short but in recent years several stretches of road have become very badly potholed, making driving difficult and sometimes dangerous. The best mode of transport is however by car, and there are various international car rental companies in Malawi. The main road through Malawi runs from the north down to Mzuzu, then through the centre of the country to Lilongwe, and on to Blantyre and the south. Taxis are available in and around town but there are also bus services available. The train in Malawi is slow, crowded and limited (there are no passenger trains to Lilongwe). Every week, the Ilala passenger ferry chugs up and down Lake Malawi between Monkey Bay and Chilumba, stopping at a dozen towns and villages (contact Malawi Lake Services).

Language

English is the official language, but Chichewa is more commonly spoken.

Money

The official currency is the Malawi Kwacha (MWK), which is divided into 100 tambalas. Travellers cheques and foreign currencies are accepted by banks, authorised hotels and other institutions in the main town centres; bureaux de change are also available. The US dollar is the easiest currency to exchange. Credit cards are not widely accepted and ATMs are scarce and should not be relied upon. Exchanging currency on the black market is not recommended.

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