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Malawi

Activity
Cycle
Duration
n/a days
Grade
Grade 1

About the challenge

Malawi lies in Southeast Africa and, with its great lake, exotic foliage and game reserves, is one of the most beautiful countries on the continent. Our ride takes us from the capital Lilongwe through villages and rural areas, and we have ample opportunity to meet the locals and become accustomed to their way of life. The route takes us along the shores of Lake Malawi, allowing glimpses of an almost untouched land.

The itinerary

Day 1: London – Lilongwe

Depart London early evening bound for Lilongwe, Malawi. Overnight flight.

Day 2: Lilongwe - Salima

Arrive Lilongwe, 3hr transfer to Salima near the shores of Lake Malawi and our hotel. On arrival we will allocate the bicycles according to size and there will be an opportunity for you to make necessary adjustments. Dinner is followed by a detailed trip briefing. Night lodge.

Day 3: Salima – Nkhotakota
Cycle approx 70-80km

We start our day with a short transfer along the shores of Lake Malawi to the start of our ride. We cycle along flat plains and through Chia lagoon, before coming to Nkhotakota and the two lodges we’ll stay in tonight. A long day's ride brings us to the lakeshore where we can swim in safety and see the distant shores of Mozambique. Night lodges.

Day 4: Nkhotakota – Game Reserve – Dwangwa
Cycle approx 55km

From Nkhotakota we transfer approx half an hour to Nkhotakota Game Reserve, where we have a game walk along the river. Rich in bird life, we may not see many large animals but it’s a fascinating walk. We head back to the Reserve lodge for refreshments, and then set off on our bikes. We ride through the richly planted areas of palms, blue gum forest, acacia trees, fig trees, silver leafed terminalis and bohemian palms. The route is off-road initially, then good flat tarmac, cruising terrain. We end our day surrounded by sugar plantations. Night chalets.

Day 5: Dwangwa – Chintheche
Cycle approx 95km

After an early breakfast we set off again – our longest day! We ride on good tarmac, crossing the Dwambazi River en-route to the small trading town of Chintheche. The area around the town is a true idea of paradise, with white sandy beaches and rocky outcrops with patches of woodland dotted along the shoreline. Night lodge.

Day 6: Chintheche – Nkhata Bay
Cycle approx 52km

Today we’ll spend the morning visiting a local community project to see the great work being done to enrich local life, especially in the schools. It may be possible for you to contribute by bringing small items for the children – please contact us in advance for details if you wish. In the afternoon we continue our cycle north along the lake shore. This section is gloriously lush and scenic, with two bays spilling into the wooded mainland, separated by a long narrow peninsula. Night lodge.

Day 7: Nkhata Bay – Mzuzu
Cycle approx. 35km

A challenging day so don’t be fooled by the low mileage, it’s all up hill! The road gradually rises from the lakeside as we pass through stunning scenery until we reach our destination, Mzuzu; the capital of the north and the gateway to the Nyika Plateau. The dramatic mountains and lush valleys make this a truly spectacular and beautiful ride and are just rewards for our efforts today.

Day 8: Mzuzu - Luwawa
Drive approx 1hr; Cycle approx 30km

Our final day of this fabulous ride! We start the day with a short transfer, which takes us further onto the Nyika Plateau. The surrounding forests make a great location for our final ride, which ends with an off-road section to our lodge. Night lodge.

Day 9: Luwawa – Lilongwe

Transfer approx 4 hours back to Lilongwe in time to catch our afternoon flight back to the UK. (Lunch not included)

Day 10: Arrive London (dependent upon flight schedules).

Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.

The route

Detailed information

What's Included?

The cost includes all accommodation as well as all flights and transport, all meals except one lunch, and entrance to any sites visited as part of the itinerary. A bike is also included. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders/mechanics and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of guides, cooks and drivers.

What's Excluded?

It does not include personal travel insurance, one meal as specified, tips for local crew, or international departure tax. It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.

Flight Information

Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick [we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights] and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Kenyan Airlines or Ethiopian Airlines, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost. 

Accommodation

We stay in guesthouses and hotels along the route. Our hotels are comfortable and clean with private facilities but please do not expect the same standards as you would in a tourist hotel in the UK! Standards may vary between different guesthouses. Depending on final group size, the group may be split between two guesthouses on some nights.

Food

All food is included except one lunch as specified. The food is great and there is plenty of it. We regret that we are unable to book connecting flights for you.

Dietary Requirements

Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.

Trip Support

Discover Adventure Crew

Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.

All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size) –who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.

Local Support Crew

Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers and cooks do not always speak English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.

Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your ride. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but the average wage is lower than what you’d spend on a few nights out at home.

Luggage

When cycling, support vehicles are with the group all the time. All luggage, spares, food, water and camping equipment is carried by them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.

Trip Safety

Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit, and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.

Preparing for the challenge

Cycling Information

Terrain

Distances vary from 30-95km per day. Cycling is predominantly on good tarmac roads with some dirt track. The cycling is varied, with most days predominantly flat or undulating. There are some long gradual climbs and descents or steeper sections. Although the off-road cycling is non-technical, we recommend you have some experience of cycling on tracks so you know what to expect. We are travelling through remote areas and weather may have an impact on road conditions. Traffic is usually very light, most people in Malawi travel by bike.  We will always take safety into consideration and reserve the right to change the itinerary on that basis.

Bikes

We will be using 21-speed mountain bikes fitted with semi slick tyres on this challenge. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.

Bike Repairs

There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit. However it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality so it is vital that if you are bringing your own bike that it be in good order before departure.

Weather

Temperatures can vary widely, though generally it should be warm and sunny, it could be very hot at times or cooler on higher ground. Rain is always a possibility. We are travelling through remote areas where we could be exposed to changeable weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

Fitness Levels

Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race.For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.

Passport & Visa

A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after departure from Malawi. There is currently no visa requirement for UK citizens. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.

Vaccinations

We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against typhoid, polio and hepatitis A. There is a very high risk of malaria and medication is essential. Care should also be taken in-country to prevent insect bites.

Cultural Differences

For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow cyclists and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you! Our experienced tour leaders and local crew will help bridge the cultural gap; take advantage of their knowledge so you can come away with an understanding of a new culture as well as the achievement of completing a challenging cycle ride.

Worldwide Sustainable Tourism

Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. 

Discover Adventure Projects

We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.

Carbon Offsetting

We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.

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