How to Travel From Lilongwe, Malawi to Lusaka, Zambia by Bus

by wheretheroadforks

Traveling from Lilongwe, Malawi to Lusaka, Zambia by bus is pretty straightforward. One bus takes you all the way. No transfers are required. This guide walks you through buying tickets, pricing, bus times, the border crossing, and more. 

Link Malawi bus from Karonga to Lilongwe, Malawi

Link Malawi bus from Karonga to Lilongwe, Malawi

Buying Bus Tickets on Devil’s Street in Lilongwe

This bus does fill up occasionally so you’ll want to buy tickets at least a day in advance. The ticket office is located in a place called Devil’s street in Lilongwe. This isn’t the formal name of the street but it’s what everyone in Lilongwe calls it.

To get there, I recommend you take a taxi. Just tell the driver you want to go to Devil’s street and he will know exactly what you mean. Once you arrive, walk to the end of the street where you will find the bus ticket office. This is also where you will catch the bus early in the morning.

This is kind of a strange place. Devil’s Street is a crowded, unpaved, pothole-filled street. Most of the traffic is pedestrian. The street is lined with stalls selling all sorts of goods and food. Watch your pockets here and try to go during the day. I didn’t have any problems but was told that this area can be dangerous.

Bus Ticket Prices from Lilongwe to Lusaka

I don’t remember exactly what the ticket cost but I believe it was about $25-$35. It’s kind of expensive, but there is only one company operating this route. The only other option is taking a series of minibusses between the cities. I’ll talk more about that later.

Bus Departure Time

This bus leaves once per day at about 4 am. I have heard that the bus doesn’t run on Thursdays but I’m not sure if that is still accurate. The trip from Lilongwe to Lusaka will take about 12-14 hours depending on the wait at the border and traffic.

Luggage Storage on the Bus

Your ticket includes one checked bag that is stored under the bus. They don’t weigh it or measure it. If you have an extra bag, they may try to charge you for it. An attendant will load your luggage for you. I don’t really like storing my bag under African buses, but it’s the only option most of the time. So far, I haven’t had anything stolen or lost.

You can bring your day pack onto the bus with you. As long as it fits between your legs or in the overhead compartment, you can bring it on. Nobody weighs or measures the bags.

Comfort and Facilities

I recommend you arrive at the bus station early so you can get a decent seat. The bus I rode was old and pretty uncomfortable. Some seats are in better condition than others.

The trip itself was average. Restroom stops were few and far between. In fact, I think the driver only made one stop other than the border. The bus did not have a bathroom. Try not to drink too much liquid during this trip.

Food options were particularly limited along this route. I saw some of the most unappetizing street food that I have ever encountered. You will want to bring food and snacks for this trip. I brought some bread, hard-boiled eggs, and cookies. 

Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi

The Border Crossing Between Malawi and Zambia

This border crossing is fairly smooth and efficient. I was stamped out of Malawi without any issues and purchased my visa to Zambia on arrival at the border. Prices were clearly posted at the immigration desk. The bus was stopped at the border for just over an hour. Overall, this was an easy African border crossing.

For more info on visa and border crossings, check out my African Visa GuideHere, I outline prices, visa availability, and more. 

Arriving in Lusaka

The bus arrived in Lusaka at around 6 pm at the main bus station. Lusaka is fairly spread out so you will probably want to take a taxi to your destination in the city. If you need cash, an ATM is located across the street from the bus station.

Lusaka is fairly developed when compared to Lilongwe. Near the bus station, you can find a grocery store and several decent restaurants if you’re hungry. 

Traveling by Minibus Between Lilongwe and Lusaka

If you would rather leave later in the day or if the coach isn’t running for whatever reason, your other option is to travel by minibus. Allow two days for this journey just in case of an unexpected delay.

To do this, you will catch a minibus from the Lilongwe bus station to the border. Mchinji is the closest town to the border on the Malawi side. From there, you will need to find transportation to the border, cross, then find another minibus on the Zambian side heading to Lusaka. This is a fairly busy border crossing so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find transportation once you arrive. 

A minibus in Zambia

A minibus in Zambia

Final Thoughts: Lilongwe, Malawi to Lusaka, Zambia by Bus

As far as African bus rides go, this one was fairly smooth and comfortable. The bust traveled straight through without making any unnecessary stops. The border crossing was fast and painless.

The best piece of advice I can give is to arrive early when catching the bus so you can score a decent seat. Also, don’t forget to pack some food as options are limited along the route. Try not to drink too much liquid. You may only get one opportunity to use the bathroom all day. 

For a list of all of my step-by-step bus guides, check out The Ultimate African Bus Guide.

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