Once a small fishing village, now the capital city of Malawi, holidays to Lilongwe offer a bustling sprawl of contrasting old and new. The Lilongwe River - the inspiration behind the capital's name - runs through the city, which lies relatively central to the rest of Malawi and was the favoured administrational hub during the British occupation.
The city is split in two separate halves: City Centre and Old Town. The former offers greater modernity and some nice hotels; although properties found in the suburbs are removed from the city hubbub and well worth the commute. While City Centre owns the traditional hallmarks of a CBD, with modern shops, restaurants and embassies to peruse, Old Town stands in defiant contrast with its lively malls and main market place, which is alive with African dance and music. The two areas are only 3km apart and you can easily flit between the two with a handy minibus service.
To escape the buzz of city life, without retreating to the suburbs, there are a few areas of leafy solitude to be found, the Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary a good choice among them. Set in 180 hectares of woodland, guided tours of the wilderness sanctuary and walking trails are your chief means of exploration.
A unique metropolitan area, Lilongwe remains superb for stop-overs before moving on to other destinations around Malawi. It's also close to the borders of Zambia and Mozambique if you wish to extend your holiday further afield.
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