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Discovering Mount Mulanje, by Smriti Middha
Posted on: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Blog Category: 'Personal Experience '

by Smriti Middha

When one is looking for a getaway, one looks for a location that helps him reconnect with his lost self, a break from everyday life that would rejuvenate him to the core. With most of the places being commercialized, it feels the same everywhere. Hence he wishes to explore more of virgin lands that are as natural as possible and are away from consumerism and commercialism. To quench this thirst of solitude and reconnecting with oneself, Malawi offers a perfect refuge.

Malawi is a small country lying in the southern part of the African continent. With Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia as its borders, this small heaven has a lot to offer. It is the home of the ninth largest lake in the world. The lake has crystal clear waters and a nice place for snorkelling. Malawi is also the homeland of Game reserves where people can enjoy the African wildlife.

For the adventurous lifestyle travellers, Malawi offers Mt. Mulanje.  Mt. Mulanje – one of the largest peaks in the southern parts of the African subcontinent – has been a source of inspiration to many.  Amongst many, J.R.R. Tolkien found inspiration for his novel – the Hobbit here. The Shire River flowing through the mountain, lent its name to the Hobbit village.

Mt. Mulanje is a perfect getaway from the everyday monotonous work. 70 kms from the commercial and fashion hub of Malawi, Blantyre – it is maintained by the Mt. Mulanje Conservation trust. Surrounded by massive tea estates, one can enjoy a Tea garden tour, a tea tasting session and be lost in the beauty of the massif.

This giant massif attracts the tourists and residents alike. It offers a choice of 8 peaks to climb from. If one has time and the stamina, they could climb multiple peaks. Sapitwa peak stands highest at 3000 metres. For the beginners Chambe and Lichenya become the preference. All interested climbers / trekkers / hikers need to first register at the information office wherein you get a guide and a porter. It is suggested that you get a guide – the mountain is rough at certain points and thus a guide is required to help you at those points. Also one needs to be at the base huts before sunset. The terrain is such that it is nearly impossible to climb after dark.

Before you set off to conquer the mountain, be prepared to be awed by the beauty of this mountain and open yourself to whatever it has to offer. The breathtaking views will take your breath away. The journey to the top is not an easy one but once you are there, you forget all the pains and you find a whole new meaning to your life. The base hut is a different experience altogether. With no electricity, one just gets a bed (with only a mattress), some fire to prepare food and water. The traveller needs to carry their own food. The guides and the Porters are friendly people. Infact the Malawians are the most humble and friendly people on the face of Earth. They would help you prepare the fire for food and would happily share theirs even if they have not had anything the entire day.

With nothing to do at the base hut after dark, one gets to appreciate the beauty of the nature. Never in the city life would one be able to gaze the stars and appreciate them. Here, in case you are carrying a pair of good binoculars, and the skies are clear, there is a chance you could see the moons of Jupiter.

In case one is just out for a picnic, the mountains are home to a beautiful waterfall. One could visit the place with the guide else you could get lost in the mountain as there are a lot of paths crossing and you would not know which one to take. Once you reach the waterfall, in a split of a second you would dive right into it and cool yourself. It is after cooling oneself, that one starts having a look around and are astounded by what they see. The water is also rich in minerals and fit for a drink.

Once you are back after conquering the mountain, you are a different person. With a more open mind and appreciation for life, you tend to see things in different light. And not to forget – the mountain motivates and inspires you.

You can check out the various handicrafts souvenirs at the registration centre. From batik paintings to wooden handicrafts; from baogames to Malawi tea, one can take something of Malawi with them.  

The travel article has been contributed by Smriti Middha. She, along with her husband, runs travel stories monthly ezine – Travel Chronicles (www.travelchronicles.in)- stories of the travellers by the travellers.



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