Mangochi, Malawi, sits on the western banks of the Shire River, which joins Lake Malawi and Lake Malombi. Mangochi is roughly eight kilometers equidistant between the southern bank of Lake Malawi and the northern bank of Lake Malombi. It is a transport hub being at the junction of the M10 that comes into town from Monkey Bay and Cape Maclear in the north and the M3 that travels up the eastern banks of Lake Malawi and to the Mozambique border. It is two hundred fifty kilometers southeast of the capital Lilongwe, two hundred kilometers north of Blantyre, and seventy-five kilometers north of Liwonde. Mangochi is where travelers will have to change transport if using local minibuses to go between Monkey Bay, Cape Maclear, and Liwonde National Park.
Mangochi, formerly known as Fort Johnston, has an interesting place in World War I history. Both the British and the Germans each had a gunboat (The Gwendolen and The Herman Von Wissermann respectively) on Lake Malawi. At the outbreak of World War I, the British gunboat was ordered to disable the German boat, which they duly did, by use of their Hotchkiss gun, before the Germans knew a war had broken out. This was the first naval battle of World War I and the first British victory of World War I. The Hotchkiss gun is now on display at the Lake Malawi Museum.
The Lake Malawi Museum is located in the Old Gymkhana Club by the Queen Victoria monument next to the Bakili Muluzi Bridge, and is a mostly ethnographic museum charting the history of the local Yao people. However, along with the Hotchkiss gun, it also has an interesting display charting the history of maritime travel on Lake Malawi.
Although Mangochi is a bit of a transit town for international travelers, there are hostel-style dorm beds available at one of the camps by the Shire River. Budget travelers can therefore cheaply break up their journey by using the Mangochi, Malawi hostel beds here. The Mangochi, Malawi hostel beds are also nicely positioned right on the banks of the river. Onward travel can be arranged at the hostel in Mangochi, Malawi, and travel on the river or either of the lakes can be organized here also, as well as trips into Liwonde National Park.
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