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Lake Malawi’s Ilala, fitted with brand new engines, has completed its first circuit of the Lake since its servicing. With an extra boost under the bonnet it’s not only back in business, it’s also operating ahead of schedule!

(TRAVPR.COM) UNITED KINGDOM - June 11th, 2013 - Lake Malawi’s Ilala, fitted with brand new engines, has completed its first circuit of the Lake since its servicing. With an extra boost under the bonnet it’s not only back in business, it’s also operating ahead of schedule!

The famous Ilala, a 620 tonne vessel that travels the length of Lake Malawi (365km) often with up to 400 on board is now back in service. Whilst not a luxury cruiser, it provides a vital lifeline service to local communities along the lake, as well as offering an affordable form of transport for the more adventurous tourist. Although also accessible by plane, Likoma Island, a little piece of Malawian territory in Mozambican waters, will be one of the main stops made by Ilala. Likoma Island is home to the new Ulisa Bay Lodge as well as the famous Kaya Mawa and Mango Drift, all of which provide superb accommodation in their respective markets on this beautiful and fascinating island.

This magnificent boat could be considered as the most important asset for Lake Malawi, utilising the water to transport both goods and people. At 60 years old Ilala is no spring chicken, but did have a complete refit just a couple of years ago which included brand new engines , giving it an amazing top speed of 10 knots!

This vessel isn’t for those expecting silver service and a swimming pool, but it exudes a charm that has ‘Malawi’ written all over it. It gives the opportunity to take in the stunning scenery, experience a slice of daily Malawian life, and give yourself the chance to slow down, and take in your surroundings.

Once on, you’re not bound to journey the full length of the Lake. The new launch of the boat gives further opportunity to hop on and hop off, with fares for economy class ranging from MK1-5,000 (US$2.50 – 12). The ‘Owners Cabin’ provides a more luxurious journey and ranges from MK17,500 – 47,500 (US$42-120) one way - depending on the distance travelled. The boat operates on a weekly schedule between Chipoka and Chilumba, with 9 other stops en route, including Nkhotakota, NNkhata Bay, Likoma Island and Metangula on the Mozabique shore. It travels northbound Saturday to Monday and southbound Tuesday to Thursday.

The Ilala has five double cabins (one of which has a bathroom en suite) and two single cabins on the upper decks to cater for tourists. The top deck, above the cabins, is reserved for cabin class passengers except when in port and is equipped with a bar. The forward section including the bar is covered, while the centre and stern areas are open to allow a spacious sunbathing and recreational area.

Oliver Ransfors, in his outstanding historical account of Malawi, Livingstone's Lake, describes the atmosphere on board so well: "Each day on board, amid the excited bell ringing, siren shrieks and hooting that seem inseparable from all maritime arrivals and departures, laughing crowds of Malawians line up on the Ilala's deck to disembark, cluttered up with baggage that includes bicycles, cages filled with squawking fowl, sewing machines and even tethered goats. They are ferried ashore in lighters to return an hour or so later crammed with another batch of passengers who quickly settle down in the cramped quarters to cards and singing and sleeping and the preparation of meals in little cooking pots. It all looks and sounds like a cross between Hampstead Heath on a Bank holiday and an Eastern market, but when the ship weighs anchor again the noise dies down and the first class passengers resume in their novels, their deck chairs and their worship of the sun."

You can download the new Ilala timetable by clicking here.

Please click on the links below to download fare information:







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Name: John Hale
Company: Malawi Tourism
Phone: 0115 972 7250
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