My book, the Bradt Guide on Malawi (excellent book by the way), was giving high expectations from the Mulanje Massif – a 650 km2 granite mountainblock ‘dumped’ into a landscape of tea plantations at the southeast of Blantyre. The highest top is about 3000 meter but since we had only one day, I knew already that the top was not for us. However, I was curious to see the place as the book spoke about quite some touristic facilities. So I seriously looked around to find out about them.
The conclusion is that from the point of view ‘heavy hiker’ the basic needs are there. In the mountain good huts can be found (however, you have to bring your own food for all the days that you want to spend in the mountain) and the guides are well organized. There is even a rescue team that came into action yesterday when a Swiss tourist broke her leg high in the mountains of Mulanje Massif. The rescue team walks by the way: no helicopters here like in Switzerland, the poor tourist might have wished she would have stayed home in her own mountains….
There are more shops than average in Mulanje town and even several hotels and a single restaurant that look well equiped. All together, facilities are a lot less than in the Alps or Pyrenees, but a lot better than in the Georgian Caucasian mountains where I spent ten days a few years ago. If ever time will be abundant, I’d love to do the ‘several days’ tour within the Mulanje Massif: except from guides asking for money all the time, it is really an attractive place.
We also spent some time at the wood market at the Likhubula Forestry Station. There is time to look at products in the stands without being hasseled which is very nice and not like everywhere in Malawi. Also prices are reasonable so negotiating is a more friendly activity than average. At the picture above, you see negociations about a big order from the Stephanos Foundation‘s general manager who bought beautiful things to be sold later in the Netherlands for the benefit of Stephanos. The complete text on the shopside shown at the picture is ‘no food for a lazy shopkeeper’. Overall I noticed Malawians have a nice sense of humour 🙂
Was the Mulanje Massif crowded by tourists? No, it was even less busy than the wildparcs we visited but the visitors were not locals this time, they came from different countries. The Mulanje Information Office keeps a record of the tourists passing by: English, Dutch, Canadian and Israelian tourists seem to dominate. So here is another good place where you can help strengthen the Malawian economy while having a great time yourself!