Travel Advice & Directions

Travelling Malawi Overland

Around Malawi- Lilongwe To Nkhata Bay?

Lilongwe Airport to Nkhata Bay by public transport: From the airport, the only way to get into the city is by taxi, which costs around $30. 

To leave Lilongwe there are two good budget options-

  1. Catch a shared Taxi to Mzuzu. They leave throughout the day once they are full, but they can be cramped, especially if you have a lot of luggage. You can pay for an extra seat for comfort or extra baggage room. A seat costs around $15-20.  If you ask, your taxi driver can take you to the shared taxi rank for Mzuzu where you can continue through to Nkhata bay. 
  2. Coaches leave Lilongwe to Mzuzu at 7am, 12 noon (Sososo), and 1pm (Kwezy). If your flight arrives later in the day, you can find accommodation in Lilongwe and get the coach the following day, then continue your journey to Nkhata Bay either by private or shared taxi, where the driver can bring you up to Butterfly Space. 


  • Sososo bus costs around $20 and leaves from the ‘Game Complex Shopping Mall’ in area 3. They only take you to Mzuzu. It is best to book in advance by calling their office or visiting their website as they can sell out.
  • There are other good companies including Axa Bus, and Kwezy Bus which leave from different areas in Lilongwe.
  • We recommend booking accommodation close to where your bus company leaves from to avoid more taxi fee’s!
  • Other coaches leaving from the main coach station will wait until they fill up before they leave, which can be painfully frustrating and we don’t recommend it! 
  • Your connecting shared taxi from Mzuzu to Nkhata bay is a good cheap option. It costs around $3, then an additional $2 to continue up the hill to Butterfly Space Lodge. 
  • Butterfly Space Reception are happy to arrange private taxi’s to meet you in Mzuzu.
  • If your driver is unsure of the location when arriving in Nkhata Bay, ask to go to ‘Chikale’ then follow signs to Butterfly!

Private taxi from Lilongwe to Nkhata Bay:

You can get a taxi from the airport straight to Nkhata Bay for around $150+ (it has recently increased due to the rise in fuel prices). The taxi journey should take around 5-6 hours. 

Nkhata Bay
Click the Image to Visit our Accommodation Page

How to Get From Mzuzu To Nkhata Bay?

From Mzuzu To Nkhata Bay by Public transport:

You can take a shared taxi for about $3 per person. There is an official shared taxi rank, and there are also uncertified shared taxi’s that drive around the city centre beeping there horns to collect customers. 

Once in Nkhata Bay, you can ask the taxi Driver to continue up to Butterfly Space Lodge (situated in Chikale side of the town) for an additional $1.50-$2

You can book or jump in a private taxi for around $25 to Nkhata Bay. 

From Nkhata Bay  to Butterfly Space Lodge:

To get to Butterfly you can walk or drive- continue past Kaya Papaya restaurant (towards Chikale Beach), keep left and go over the small bridge then up the hill past the carver’s bamboo shops. Keep left at the junction, then take your second left (you should see the signs!) Then we are just at the end of the road.

Take a local taxi for $2-3

Take a Motorbike taxi for $0.50


We have a spacious shaded car park which is usually very safe. You will find some brick steps on the left, leading you down to the reception area where you will be welcomed by our receptionist or night staff. If you need help with your luggage, just call down to reception on +265999156335 or run down to get them.

Travelling Malawi By Boat

The Ilala from Nkhata Bay to Usisiya and Chilumba on Sunday morning at around 5am, but its recommended to board at 3am as it has been known to leave early. It then returns to Nkhata bay on Monday. Nkhata Bay to Likoma Island & Monkey Bay timetable means the boat usually leaves at 8pm, stopping in at various places to load and unload people and cargo. The costs and times of the boat often changes so its recommended you visit the port if you plan to use the ferry. It takes almost 2 days to reach Nkhata bay from Monkey Bay. We recommend you take first class (top deck with a bar area) where you can use a tent on the top deck, or book a cabin. Please note there are no passenger seats in first class and only a half covered deck, so bring some shade and warm clothes for the night time!  

ilala Butterfly Space, travel accommodation Lake malawi

Overland Boarder Crossings


From Tanzania: From Dar Es Salaam, you can catch the TAQWA bus direct service to Lilongwe (which costs around $60USD). Alternatively, from Mbeya you can take a mini bus or taxi to the Malawi border. After walking through Malawi immigration (Songwe) you can either take a mini bus (a little further down the road) or a share taxi to Karonga (or further on if you wish). You will need to change at Karonga to a Mzuzu bound minibus or Sososo Coach.

From Mozambique:  From Tete, there are minibuses to the border for about 5 USD.  From the Malawi side there are minibuses to Blantyre. From Blantyre there are regular minibuses and shared taxis or buses to Lilongwe, and coaches which you can book in advance that will take you all the way up to Mzuzu.

From Zambia: There are four direct buses (Kobs bus company) from Lusaka to Lilongwe each week (around $50USD). Alternatively, from Chipata to the border, there are shared taxis $4-5 USD. On the Malawi side there are shared taxis from the border to Lilongwe. 

From South Africa: From Johannesburg there twice weekly direct buses to Lilongwe, which takes around 35- 40 hours. Companies inlcude Vaal Africa, Chita One, and Ingwe Coach.

Butterfly Space Bar Accommodation, Nightlife Nkhata Bay

Are there any ATM's & CASH Machines in Nkhata Bay?

Yes! There are now 4 ATM machines that only accept VISA, and dispense up to 200,000 Kwacha at a time. If you have a Mastercard, it is recommended that you stock up on cash in Mzuzu or Lilongwe before you leave for Nkhata Bay. We recommend FDH bank which is situated in the heart of the town centre, or Easy Bank which is on the hill as you leave town on the road to Mzuzu.                              

Flights to Malawi

A typical return ticket from London or Manchester to Lilongwe costs around £800, depending upon the season (and recent changed in fuel prices). The best airlines to fly with are Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways, KLM and Air France which each have only one stop. For the cheapest flights we recommend booking directly with the airline, or on If you are flying to Africa from Europe, Australia, Asia, or the Middle East, the cheapest hubs to fly into to reach Malawi are Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, and Dar Es Salaam. From either of these hubs you could travel overland to Malawi or take a transfer to reach Lilongwe.

Our contact details:

PO BOX 211


Tel: +265 (0) 999265065 or +265 (0) 999156335