No, there are no direct flights to Blantyre from any airport in the United Kingdom; however, there is a preferred route. KLM offers the cheapest flight of the lot, though the duration of the trip usually goes beyond 33 hours. On the other hand, Ethiopian Airways provides flights to Blantyre that are just 18 hours long but are almost twice the price. Travellers saving up or on a budget tend to take the KLM route.
The cheapest time of the year in Blantyre is January to March. This is the time Blantyre gets rain showers. The wet season keeps the sun-worshipping tourists away and so the airfare and hotel room prices plummet. Its rains about ten times a month during this time, but the fares fall by almost 30 to 50 per cent. Rain nourishes the land and if you can appreciate the rebirth of nature holding an umbrella from time to time, then taking a cheap flight to Blantyre is a great time to visit the city. Even in the wet season, the temperature remains between 20°C to 25°C.
The Chileka International Airport (BLZ) is only 16 kilometres away from the city centre of Blantyre, the second largest and business centre of Malawi. The international airport is connected mainly with the region and often South African and Ethiopian Airlines land on its runway. Last year only 100,000 people used this airport.
The April to September timeframe is best if you want to visit Blantyre. During this period there is perfect weather, and no rain clouds are brewing up a storm. In the months between April and September, there are many festivals as well that keep the tourist entertained. Being near the tropics, the temperature in Blantyre does not stray away from the 23°C to 28°C range and the humidity, especially around September, comes down to the lowest levels in a year. Of course, with this fantastic weather, many more tourists flock to the city, making this the more costly and busy period as well.
Blantyre is in the south of Malawi, right at the southern tip of the Malawi Lake. The city is rich in natural parks and wildlife reserves.
Linwonde National Park is an elephant park. It was established to preserve the elephants’ natural habitat and protect the villages in the nearby area from wondering elephants. As you cross the fence into the reserve, there are groups of elephants lead by a female matriarch. The oldest female – the grandmother of them all – leads the packs, to secret waterholes and shrubs for food, locations of which are stored in her long memory. Apart from the elephants, there are black rhinos, cheetahs and alligators at the park entice and excite nature lovers of the world in Blantyre.
Lengwe National Park is a bit farther away from the city centre, about 60 kilometres to the south, but it has an entirely different ecology than the rest of Malawi which is why it should be on your to-do list. Usually, the park has a dry climate, and there are humanmade water pools that sustain the animal populations during that time. As soon as the rains begin to pour the entire savanna turns into a garden of paradise. This wildlife reserve contains the spotted hyenas, leopard, warthog, impala, monkeys, buffalos and many species of birds.
Michiru Mountain shadows over Blantyre and is only 10 kilometres away from the city. The mountain stands proud right at the edge of the Great Rift Valley, with a regal prominence. Even though the roads are not paved, for some, it makes the ride all the more exciting. Many mountain birds are living on top of the peak, which makes it an ideal place for some bird watching apart from hiking and sightseeing.
If you do not attract that much attention and are not dressed like a rich tourist, you can effectively go around Blantyre on foot. The quickest and cheapest way around the city is my getting on a minibus that zooms through the city. The minibus routes are not fixed and never precisely on time so you might find some difficulty catching one. Avoid travelling at night but if you must, consider using a taxi and always keep the contact numbers of a couple of taxi drivers. Taxis are a bit expensive but are reliable and can get you from place to place in no time.
Five-star hotels are a bit scarce in Blantyre, but there is no limit to 4-star hotels in Blantyre. Each one is set at a picturesque location surrounded by trees and overlooking the Malawi Lake.
- Protea Hotel Blantyre Ryalls
- President Walmont Hotel
- Latitude 13 Hotel
- Kumbali Country Lodge