Traversing the M5 to Chintheche in Nkhata Bay

Over the year-end holidays, our family travelled to Chintheche in Nkhata Bay, the famous stretch of beach on the northern shores of Lake Malawi. Chintheche lies about 40 kilometres south of Nkhata Bay Boma and just over 80 kilometres from Mzuzu. It is famed for its pristine beaches.

Our journey took us through beautiful mountain views, a rubber plantation and natural woodland from Mzuzu.

the Mzuzu Nkhata Bay road

The 46km long road to the lake was recently upgraded. The road is part of the M5 starting from the Salima turn-off in Balaka running through Salima and Nkhotakota to Mzuzu.

recently upgraded Mzuzu road

It was a wet morning but a very beautiful drive.

the rolling hills of northern Malawi

The rolling hills as you drive out of Mzuzu have an uncanny resemblance to Rwanda’s mountainous terrain.
cultivated hills in Mzuzu

Straight roads don't make skillful drivers

Public transport

the famous Toyota Sienta taxis of Malawi

The Mzuzu – Nkhata Bay road is serviced by many Toyota Sienta mini MPVs operating as taxis. They are normally packed with people, bags of produce and sometimes livestock. Like on most secondary roads in Malawi, you will rarely find proper commuter buses.

clouds form over the hills

It had been a wet few days and the clouds up ahead were not inspiring much confidence in us having a sunny holiday.

Limphasa River as you cross into Nkhata Bay

Crossing Limphasa River in Nkhata Bay.

The Nkhata Bay Port

Nkhata Bay boma overlooks the Lake Malawi and Nkhata Bay jetty. It is a bit of a tight squeeze and very busy! The bay itself is rather underwhelming and clearly has a waste disposal problem, something someone needs to get on top of.

Nkhata Bay Boma was a bit underwhelming

Soaking up the sun… the few rays the clouds let through.

canoes glide into and out of the port

Most of the activity was taking place around the trading centre. The port itself was quiet except for canoes leaving and coming into.

Outside Nkhata Bay Jetty

Outside Nkhata Bay Port, the main lake port in northern Malawi. Vessels such as the MV Ilala leave this port for the enclaves of Likoma and Chizumulu islands in Lake Malawi as well as ports further south in Salima and Mangochi.

Vizara Rubber Plantation

After Nkhata Bay boma you drive through Vizara Rubber Plantation. The estate was established by Sir Henry Wickham in 1876 and has approximately 600,000 rubber trees.  Vizara means “horn of plenty” in the local Tonga language. The plantation also processes spent rubber trees into timber.

A timber plantation after Vizara Plantation.

There are mangoes along the road. Lots of them. Roadside sellers around every bend and rotting ones under every other mango tree.

Finally there!

Kawiya Bridge overlooking Lake Malawi in Nkhata Bay

At Kawiya Bridge. After many hours of travel, I was happy to be in Chintheche. The beach was in sight, yay!

Follow-up post: Sun, sand and beer on the beaches of Chintheche.


To receive an occasional email of stories from the #LifeUnbound blog and other gems, subscribe below.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Austin Madinga's Life Unbound