Zomba, Malawi, is one of those places in Malawi that draw you in. If you are traveling with no set schedule, you could find yourself staying here longer than you thought. Once a British Colonial stronghold, and the capital of Malawi until the seventies, it is now a bit of a dusty crossroads town, but it does have a quaint faded charm, with the old British Colonial buildings still standing.
Zomba is an easy, fifty-kilometer ride south of Liwonde National Park past the Malosa Forest Reserve and is popular with travelers for the Zomba Plateau, which rises to an elevation of more than two thousand metersm and is a welcome cool, green break from the hot and dusty lowlands.
There is a paved road all the way up to the plateau, but no public transport. Motorcycle taxis hang out by the bus station, and hiring one to take you up to the top is both cheap and exhilarating, as the views get more and more spectacular the higher up the winding road you go. You'll pass strawberry vendors, locals carrying huge bundles of firewood on their backs, and the occasional vervet monkey.
There are a number of walking trails at the top through the pine forest, to scenic points such as Chingwe's Hole, Queen's and Emperor's Views, and Mandala and William's Falls. At the entrance to the plateau, visitors must report to the Model Hut, where entrance fees are paid and guides can be hired. If you are looking to take a long hike, then a guide is essential as the trails can be difficult to navigate in places. Horse riding is also popular here, and there are a number of stables that rent horses up on the plateau.
Both in town and on the plateau, there are budget hostels in Zomba, Malawi. The hostels in Zomba, Malawi town give visitors easy access to modern facilities, while the Zomba, Malawi hostels at the top of the plateau are a little more remote, but you have the scenery right outside your door. There are no shops though, so bring all you need up with you.
Onward travel is very easy from Zomba, with the city of Blantyre just seventy kilometers southeast along the M3.
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