Mabuya Camp stands out in Lilongwe as still offering budget accommodation in a city where that is hard to find. We had requested for them to arrange an airport transfer and was great to be met after 36 hours in transit to Malawi . We were greeted with a smiling cheerful local woman at reception who made us feel welcomed. (The young local guys who work the bar and others who come in from the town to drink later in the day are tres cool but are helpful and will also smile once you get to know them.)
We stayed at Mabuya Camp twice, both before and after our month long safari in our own tent at Wildlife Camp South Luangwa in Zambia. After long days of intercontinental travel on the way in on the way out we were glad to be able to walk into the center of Lilongwe from Mabuya and purchase some supplies for our upcoming safari . (Though we had read online that a local safari operator my do transfers we found out from Mabuya that this was not the case. We arranged our own transfer to Wildlife Camp in Zambia online through Mophy's Budget Safari Tours http://budgetsafaritours.com/
Mophy is a local Zambian with contacts in Malawi so a taxi picked us up at Mabuya Camp and took us to the border, helped us schlep our four duffles with our camping equipment through the gate where Mophy met us and took us in his mini-van on to Wildlife Camp. One can travel the same route with taxis and mini buses but will take longer....)
Some reviewers have been harsh, so will say this upfront --this is a backpackers camp people, not a 5 star Hotel. But that's why its so valuable, it supports those who have a smaller budget for travel. When we were there the tropical plants including huge jacaranda were blooming so it was quite beautiful as well.
Mabuya Camp is built on a property that was once colonial government homes, so it has some history. Though the nearby roads are busy what we liked is was that it still felt safe and was functional place to relax and party for a couple of days or more before continuing the adventure! Yes, it can get a little loud in the bar when a game is going on or outside the walls in the street at night but that's what ear plugs are for! :)
Having stayed in backpackers all over the world we more than happy with Mabuya Camp services: gated security, wi fi time for sale, on site cafe, bar, basic kitchen for guest use, onward transport info and more.
Camping is allowed if you want to depend on your own tent for mosquito protection like we have found to be the best, but they have rustic thatched cabins and stucco rooms with mosquito nets for rent as well. Because of our long flights we opted to not set our tent up and splurge on both of their types of room. They were in the process of rethatching the roofs at that time.
Mabuya Camp has a lived in comfortable feel of a welcome urban tropical oasis with verandas and a chill swimming pool area to hang out but still is 20- 30 minute walking distance to the heart of the city.
Buying your meal tickets at reception allowed the cooks to concentrate on prepping and getting the food orders in a timely fashion over at the cafe. The food in the cafe was tasty, the restroom facilities worked, the travel information was spot on.
See more info about our experiences shopping for supplies etc at http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/malonetravels2/7/1377915061/tpod.html
The owners Tom and Janey are hard working and on the move when there but will take time to answer questions with a smile. Its obvious that they are well traveled themselves and enjoy assisting others.
And that's worth a great deal.
We look forward to returning to our 'home away from home in Lilongwe, the rough and ready Mabuya Camp. Rock on !