Experience Malawi

Lilongwe Airport (LLW) in Malawi

A quick post about Lilongwe airport.

Lilongwe Airport (LLW) is a small, one-runway airport that serves as the main air hub of Malawi. Situated to the West of Lilongwe (about 4 miles away), Lilongwe Airport predominantly serves the capital and the northern region of Malawi, as well as people who are unable to get a flight to Blantyre.

Arriving in the airport from the UK really does feel like you are entering another world. Spectators throng the viewing platform directly above the baggage hall as your plane lands, and when the aeroplane doors open the heat will hit you. You'll take a walk down the stairs to the buses waiting to take you the short distance to the terminal, and that is where the fun starts..

...Immigration in Lilongwe airport is long and tedious. There are no computers, only some ancient wooden desks where immigration officials sit and manually write down all your details for entry into the country. You then get that all important stamp to enter Malawi and you can go and pick your bags up!

Once you collect your luggage from the single carousel, customs officials will ask you if you have any gifts or presents, and will normally have a bit of a sift through your bags (mainly out of interest rather than trying to catch you with anything dodgy...!)

On exit there isn't the usual hassle you get in developing world airports (although there are always some touts wanting to help you with your bags for a few Kwacha), and you can organise a taxi to pretty much anywhere. Most people are met by relatives, but for travellers you can get to the centre of Lilongwe and the central bus station quite cheaply. For reference, a taxi to Mzuzu (3.5hrs) is around £80-£100 (depending on interest rate fluctations).

Facilities include several ATMs, a number of food and gift shops, as well as places to change money. As a general rule changing your money at the airport is the cheapest way to buy Kwacha (KW), the currency of Malawi, as they don't seem to really look at exchange rates when working out how much you should be buying for!

So to sum up, Lilongwe airport is not a bad place to arrive, and there's no doubt you have arrived in Malawi!

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