Meet Jayson, a Kenyan traveler who’s 5 to 8 entails planning his next travels. When I asked him to describe himself, he said he didn’t want to blow his own trumpet so he let his friends blow it. They were open enough to describe him as lovably cool, chilled and mysterious, random with a free spirit.
He recently went on a drive across Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia and he shared his experience as well as his travel journey.
What kind of traveler are you?
I am blend of a thrill seeker and escapist. A thrill seeker in the sense that I find excitement exploring off the beaten paths and destinations. An Escapist in that I use travel as a distraction from my normal every day very busy work routine.
I know you recently drove From Kenya to Malawi, could you describe the route you went through to get to Malawi ?
Yes, I did the drive a few days ago with my best friend. We exited Kenya through the Namanga Border then drove across Tanzania through the Dodoma- Mbeya route with a couple of days stops on each of these 2 towns. From Mbeya, we drove to the Kasumulu/ Songwe border then into Malawi. Our first destination in Malawi was Nkhata Bay, which is the North and later to Lilongwe, the capital.
It took about 8 hours to drive from Namanga to Dodoma and another 8 hours from Dodoma to Mbeya hence the reason behind the breaks.
What challenges did you face while driving across Tanzania to Malawi?
The main challenge was adhering to the speed limits and all the road rules in Tanzania. There are traffic police in nearly every town in Tanzania and the speed limits changes quickly from 80 Kph outside urban areas to 50 kph in the urban areas.
Driving a car with foreign registration plates attracted scrutiny from the police and we were stopped at nearly all the police check points. The standard requirement in Tanzania is to have a fire extinguisher (ensure that this has not expired), 2 stable reflector triangles, and a first aid kit. The police requested to see these in most of the check points in addition to the vehicle clearance documents.
How are the roads like? Nairobi to Malawi?
Breaking it down;
Nairobi to Namanga– This stretch is good, the road is not crowded and there are no speed restrictions.
Tanzania- Smooth, the road is tarmacked and clearly marked. In my view, the best roads to drive on.
Malawi – Similar to Kenya, the roads are good and there are no speed restrictions. However, the section between the Songwe border and Karonga, the first major town from the border, is currently under maintenance. The deviations are bumpy but doable.
Did you at any time drive at night?
Yes, we preferred to drive at night on our way back, specifically in Tanzania solely to avoid the numerous police checks.
Any advice you’d give anyone planning to drive themselves to Malawi?
Research and plan ahead on the route you intend to use. Ensure you have the necessary travel documents, your passport and valid driving license and also the standard requirements earlier mentioned.
For the vehicle, you require the following for Customs clearance;
- The original log book or a valid power of attorney from the owner of the motor vehicle.
This will be used to obtain a Temporary Importation of Road Vehicles Form that will be presented to the customs officers in the subsequent border points.
- Certificate of Comesa Insurance.
You will be required to pay approximately Kshs 2,000 in levies at the Tanzanian border if your vehicle be within the Tanzanian borders a continued period of more than 7 days. However, these are not applicable if you are on transit to another country.
At the Malawi border, you are required to pay 10,000 Malawian Kwacha to obtain a Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) for the vehicle and USD 20 as Road Access Fee. These charges are mandatory and are deposited at the National bank of Malawi branch at the border point. After payment, a Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) customs officer will then clear the vehicle and issue you with a TIP document and a receipt as evidence of payment of the charges. Be sure to carry these documents with you since customs officers will stop you randomly and request to see the documents.
How often do you travel?
Frequently. I’m big on road trips and I’ll most probably be on one every other weekend within Kenya.
Favourite place in Kenya so far?
Diani. I love the serenity that comes with the long stretches of the white sandy beaches, the ocean and the wave splashes. Simply put, it’s tranquil.
Things you never travel without?
My phone, phone charger, comfortable shoes and a pair of slippers. As a road tripper, I always ensure I have several bottles of water, food/ snacks and a travel blanket and pillow (in case I get stuck in the wild).
Where are you going to next
Locally- Samburu, outside of Kenya- Namibia and Mauritius.
Want to catch up with Kelvins’s travels for inspiration?
Find him on instagram: @vokejay
This is one of the vest blogs I’ve encountered.
Keep up. I’ll definitely do this road-trip.
Just out of curiosity as every typical Kenyan:
1) If you miss to carry the fire extinguisher or first aid kit and you get fined the first stop will they also fine you in the next?
2) Is the certificate of Comesa Insurance issued at the border or you’ll need to make prior arrangements?
Thanks in advance
On the first question, its safe to buy or replace at the next/nearest town since you’ll still be fined at the next stop. Its actually cheaper to buy than to pay the fines.
You can get the comesa card from your normal insurer, or at the border. Both options can work.
Do the trip! Its totally worth it.
Totally envious. Thank you for the tips☺️
I did a road trip from Kenya to South Africa and I must say Tanzania was a pain. We got stopped everywhere by the police and paid so much fine coz we’d forget to belt up. It got to a point where we were stopped because we simply did not stop at a Zebra crossing and there was noone crossing the road. Also the cops where white. Lol . But I have to say Tanzania has the best road infrastructure in East Africa.