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Mulanje Mountain

This splendid mountain is where the meet will primarily take place. Hiking access is at about 8-900m and the ‘plateau’ level where the huts are is at about 2000m. The highest peak is Sapitwa at 3002m. The peaks are granite and in August/September – when it is dry – traction is very good. There are various vegetative zones determined by altitude. Temperatures in late August/early September will be warm during the day (20-25 C) and a little cooler at night, though not dropping below 10C. For more information on Mulanje Mountain – the paths, peaks, huts etc. – check out the MCM website on www.mcm438.wordpress.com

Dates

Hiking will take place between Saturday, 31st August and Saturday, 7th September. Seven of the 8 hiking days will be on Mulanje Mountain. One day will be on the Zomba Plateau.

Arrival in Blantyre

Participants should arrive in Blantyre by Friday, 30th August at the latest. Travellers from other African countries dotn usually need visas to enter Malawi but please check this out when you are booking your flights. Visas cost $75. Malawi does sometimes request yellow fever certificates – so best to bring it along if you have one.

Accommodation in Blantyre

We propose that participants stay at Kabula Lodge (www.kabulalodgemalawi.com) on the night of Friday, 30th August and Saturday, 7th September. The lodge can do airport pickups, is very conveniently located for town and can do laundry if you are going on to other places in Malawi after our hiking. There are a range of room options. Breakfast is included and there is a restaurant for evening meals if you prefer this to going to a restaurant in town. All details are on the website. Please book your rooms and airport transfer directly with the lodge.

The MCM chairperson will provide a briefing on Friday, 30th August (time to be confirmed) at Kabula Lodge. Participants will be picked up on the morning of 31st August from Kabula Lodge. If you choose not to stay at Kabula Lodge, you will be responsible for getting yourself to Kabula Lodge early on the morning of 31st August for the transport pick up.

Programme

The proposed programme is as follows:

  • Saturday, 31st August: Pickup at Kabula Lodge. Drive to Nessa Village. Hike to Lichenya Hut. Night at Lichenya Hut.
  • Sunday, 1st September: Peak option. Hike to Chisepo Hut. Night at Chisepo Hut.
  • Monday 2nd September: Peak option (Sapitwa – Malawi’s highest peak at 3002m). Hike to Thuchila Hut. Night at Thuchila Hut.
  • Tuesday, 3rd September: Peak option. Hike to Chinzama Hut. Night at Chinzama Hut.
  • Wednesday, 4th September. Peak option. Hike to Malosa Pools. Night under the stars on sandy beach at Malosa Pools.
  • Thursday, 5th September: Pool and rock hopping on the Malosa River. Hike to Madzeka Hut. Night at Madzeka Hut.
  • Friday, 6th September: Possible peak option. Descend to Lujeri Estate. Pickup and drive to Zomba. Dinner in Zomba. Night at the MCM Treasurer’s cottage on Zomba Plateau.
  • Saturday, 7thSeptember: Take part in Zomba Mountain ‘Run for Reforestation’ event – 5, 10, 21km run/hike options – a chance to see a different Malawi mountain. Or just do your own hike or just chill in the garden! Afternoon return to Blantyre. Stay at Kabula Lodge. End of meet dinner.
  • Sunday, 8th September: Participants free to leave Malawi or continue to other venues e.g. the lake, further north to the Nyika Plateau etc.

On five of the days on Mulanje, there will be an option to climb a peak before hiking on to the next hut. Participants can choose to climb as many or as few of the peak options as they wish. Each day there will be 2 groups – a peak group and a non-peak group. The non-peak group will have options to make detours, visit pools for swimming etc.

We reserve the right to change the programme if we feel this is necessary for any reason.

Mulanje huts

The huts on Mulanje Mountain are owned by the Department of Forestry. In each hut, MCM has a store where we keep mattresses, blankets, cooking pots and other utensils, plates and cups etc. Participants should bring a sleeping bag, but there is no need to carry a sleeping mat.

Guides and porters

Mulanje has a very good guides and porters association. We will start our trip with guides/porters from Nessa station and swap to Lujeri station guides and porters half way through the trip. We will have 2 guides with us on each day – one to lead the peak group and one to lead the non-peak group. We will hire porters to carry the food and we strongly recommend that participants use porters to carry their big packs. If you just carry a day pack this will make the hiking each day much more pleasant. Hiring porters is also providing local employment. Porters will carry up to about 16kg so it is possible for 2 people to share a porter. Guides cost about $15 per day. Porters cost about $12 per day. We will also provide tips.

Food, water, wine

During the Mulanje hiking MCM will organise breakfasts and dinners. Breakfast will be muesli, porridge, tea and coffee. Dinners will be good but fairly simple fare – pasta and sauces, rice and beans etc. We will hire a cook to prepare the meals. We will share the costs of the food and the cook. Participants should bring their own snacks and lunch stuff for each day. There are supermarkets in Blantyre where you can buy a limited range of snack bars, biscuits, nuts etc. but if you have access to good quality snacks you will probably want to bring your snack/lunch stuff with you. There will be no time for shopping on Saturday 31st August and there is no food to buy on Mulanje. Water is plentiful on Mulanje so participants only need to bring a one or one and a half litre bottle. We will fill our bottles in streams along the way. The water is clean and we drink it without any treatment. If you know you have a sensitive stomach then you might want to bring some purification tablets or iodine for treating the water or a bottle with a filter. For wine drinkers we will take good quality boxed South African wine. Again we will share the costs of the wine.

Costs

It is very hard to estimate costs as this depends on the numbers. Here is a very rough outline:

Transport: $30-50 per person

Guides: $15 x 2 x 9* days = $270 – to be divided between participants

Cook: $15 x 1 x 7 days = $105 – to be divided between participants

Food porters: $12 x 3(?? – depends on size of group/amount of communal food) x 9* days = $324 – to be divided between participants

Personal porter: $12 x 9 days = $108 – to be divided between 2 participants

Food and wine: $10 per day per person (add $2 per day if you drink wine)

Park entrance: insignificant amount

Fees to stay in Forestry Department huts: $1.5 per person per night

Club equipment use costs: $2.5 per person per night

Tips for hut watchmen: $0.3 per person per night

Dinner at Italian restaurant in Zomba: $12-15 per person

Entrance fee for the Zomba ‘Run for Reforestation’ event

Dinner on last night (7th September) in Blantyre: $10 per person

*9 days because there is some overlap between porter groups

VERY approximately (and we cannot be held to this) we might be looking at something like $225 per person for the mountain costs if we have a group of 20 and $285 if we have a group of 10. These costs might be estimated a little on the higher side – so hopefully the trip will be cheaper than this – but this gives an idea. Kabula Lodge costs, dinner in Zomba, entrance to the Zomba ‘Run for Reforestation’ and dinner in Blantyre on last night are not included in this estimate.

What to bring

The usual stuff:

  • Rucksack large
  • Day bag
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hat
  • Snacks and lunches
  • Money!

No need to bring:

  • Camping mat or tent unless you will need these things for after the meet. You will be able to leave things in Blantyre e.g. at the lodge.

Other things

We have good Mulanje maps, guide books and unfolded maps (for framing) for sale if anyone is interested.