We stopped our northerly trek and went down south a bit so we could climb Mount Mulanje. We stayed at Likhubula Forest Lodge and spent our first day
on the bikes. We thought we’d do a lap of the mountain, but didn’t realise that this meant 120km! Although it got pretty hot in the second part of the ride and we were doing interval pieces of 20min crawling along, 10min sitting under a tree, we still enjoyed the ride and seeing what villages were like in more isolated areas. We realised that coke isn’t something that can be found in every spaza shop after going 3 hours without seeing anything but raw basic foods. The
best part of our ride was definitely the pizza stop in town right at the end, after a long day on the bike.
We’d arranged our hike for the next day. It was meant to be a 3 day hike, but we’d heard people did it in 2 and that meant carrying less food so that was our plan. We climbed 6 hours on the first day to a hut nearest to the summit. The climb was relentless, but beautiful. We were shattered from the ride the day before and suffered with the never ending climbs. The scene
ry on the mountain is spectacular. Lots of little rivers, springs and streams weaving through hills and rocky outcrops. The grassland areas are filled with beautiful wild flowers and the forest areas are full of
mosses, ferns and mushrooms.
The hut we stayed in had some nice rock pools close by where you could cool off a bit after the days’ hike.
The view from the hut was amazing, we could see right out to Zomba Plateau and Lake Chilwa.
In the early afternoon the rain started and overnight it really set in. Our guide had told us that if it was raining in the morning, we couldn’t summit as the rocks would be too slippery. Luckily, we woke up to sunshine. The summit was more technical than we expected. It was more of a scramble than a hike. We absolutely loved jumping from rock to rock, trying to find grips to help us and crawling through gaps in the rocks. The views from the top were magnificent. Cloud was moving in and out of the valleys below.
So we never got a completely clear view, but saw most spots at some point. After some photos and a quick s
nack we started the long descent. It was already 11am when we got back to our hut to pick up our bags and get some more sustenance in us. We’d catered on the low side to avoid carrying heavy packs and had 3 sandwiches left for the rest of the day. As we were busy debating whether we ate one then or kept it until later, a crow swooped in and stole one of the sandwiches. With about 6 hours of hiking left, this wasn’t ideal!
Luckily the views were so good to keep us happy, because the afternoon got very long. In hindsight, this 3 day hike should be done over 3 days! And when the locals say you’re going walk for 10 hours, there’s no “unfit tourist” margin built in. Or maybe we are the unfit tourists!