Thursday, January 1, 2015

Malawi, Mulanji and back to Kenya

Mount Mulanji 'The island in the Sky'
The last part of the Malawi reccie was down in the southern end near the Mozambique border. We headed down through Blantyre and onto Cholo where we had a night in at a motel. At a $1 a night was not that glamorous as the bed bug lines across the body demonstrated in the morning. In the morning we visited a tea plantation. It was the first to be farmed in Malawi having started in 1920 and did have a very colonial feel to it, the large stately home among the tea fields called 'Huntingdon House', where you could get a tea menu, I am English and like tea but I have never been presented a tea menu before.

Tea fields in Cholo south of Blantyre 
 From there we headed further south to Mulanji ‘the island in the sky’. Its a large range which shoots up from the plains to just over 3000 metres. I have trekked with a group here a few years ago and remember how stunning it was. Huge granite walls everywhere some up to 1200 metres. There has been several routes put up in the area but there would be scope for new routes everywhere. The village of Mulanji is pretty small and when we where there there where no other tourists about. The heat was pretty intense here, very hot and extremely humid making it pretty hard to move around without pouring with sweat. Locating swimming pools where the first priority. We found some good pools near the Likabula forest station which manages the area. Quite fast flowing given it was the rainy season but a great setting. There was some deafening thunder while we where in them as the rains kept coming.  

Kids on the trek in the Lister Gap, Mozambique lies below them
We had a good look around the Lister gap at the Northern end of the range and where we came down the last time I was here. The Lister Gap was where the slavers would bring the slave caravans through on their way to the coast in Mozambique. The British set up a Fort near the start of the gap to try and stops the Arabs and Portuguese as they worked to abolish slavery. Its quite a remote corner and for the locals its still a novelty to have tourists come through. Its a very poor area where people have very little other than simple subsistance farming. 
There is also boulders of very high quality everywhere it would be a bouldering paradise if a little easier to get to. The locals seemed perplexed by our interest in them 

Bouldering around in the Lister Gap 
From there we made the long drive back to Lilongwe passing through the Dedza plateaux which is pretty spectacular with Malawi one side of the road and Mozambique on the other. We arrived at Mabuya camp in the capital just as the heavens opened with torrential rain, rivers running everywhere. 
That was the end of the trip from the work angle its was very good and we shall be able to put together some great programmes for the groups next year. Malawi is a very relaxed country and very easy to operate in but best of all has some amazing venues to use. All the main outdoor activities can be done and done in style to. Also a great trip to relax and refresh ready for the work to begin again further North back in Kenya. 

A bumpy flight and long drive in heavy traffic but now back at Forest Camp waiting for a group to arrive for a couple of days before New Year. A lot cooler here which is a relief although it looks like the rains have passed so the heat will start build as we head into the summer here. 

Leaving Malawi after a great trip, Malawi never fails to deliver !