Day 166… Monday 4th September
Managed to find an insurance office in Chipata (google maps was no help) and purchased ‘yellow card’ insurance to cover Greta for Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya (790 kwacha/£30.64 for 3 months, cash only). A bustling border town which has grown hugely since the last visit 10 years ago. There were sellers approaching with fruit, money exchangers and people asking for money or food. The Zambian/Malawi border crossing was a one-stop place in a brand new building. Officers were fairly slow at processing our visas despite the e-visa having been approved a few days earlier. Road tax toll had to be paid in US dollars ($20) and we exchanged Zambian kwacha with a chap outside. A carbon tax was based on the vehicle engine size and this was charged at 32,000 Malawian Kwacha. Cash only and there was a working ATM in the building. We had a pleasant fixer who helped us with the process and we gave him some small change. The road towards Lilongwe was busy with cycles and people walking. Quite a few police stops but no document requests and we were waved through the road blocks. One road block was for a community tax for the district of 2,000 Malawian kwacha/£1.85). It all seemed official and a receipt was given. Just hope the money goes to a good cause! Our campsite was well signed posted 2km off the main road and our pitch was next to the noisy French family from previous campsites. They are a friendly young couple but their boisterous kids will be waking us up early tomorrow. There was a bar, restaurant and wi-fi. Well maintained gardens, shady trees and benches/tables. Extended our stay for an extra night as the French family are leaving tomorrow. They too are heading to Tanzania and no doubt we will be meeting again!
The border crossing from Zambia into Malawi is seemingly very impressive. Clearly built in the last few years, it replaces the ramshackle set of grubby buildings that existed there before. Now in its place is a singular structure with a clear road layout and a simple process of going through the kiosks from left to right. This would all be good except this is still Africa and so…. on our approach we had to drive along the oncoming lane of traffic to get to the building since our lane was completely blocked by parked lorries; there were ceiling lights looking like they were about to fall to the floor, hanging by a single wire; the other lights were flickering like something from a horror movie; and everything else looked to be in a mild state of disrepair already. They even had a fancy look bag scanner there, although it looked like it had never been used.
As I’ve said before, I think I should become a consultant for African border posts, helping to make them more efficient and less inept.