Malawi named one of Lonely Planet's Best in Travel Top Countries for 2022! Find out more.
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Mount Mulanje


Mulanje has Malawi’s highest peak and the scale of this truly magnificent mountain has to be seen to be appreciated. Its bare rock flanks tower to 10,000ft (3,000m), dwarfing all that surrounds it. Mulanje is actually a ‘massif’ of syenite and granite covering a massive 650 sq km . Erosion by rivers running along lines of weakness on the rock has resulted in deep clefts striking back into the heart of the mountain. Where they meet, cauldron-like hollows have developed. The resulting landscape is a wondrously beautiful one of basins/plateaux, rivers, gorges, waterfalls and no less than 20 peaks above 2,500m

Mulanje is known locally as the ‘island in the sky’ because it rises almost sheer from the plains below, which have an average altitude of just 650m. Unlike some of the world’s peaks that are somewhat ‘hidden’ in surrounding ranges, there is a genuine sense of wonder and awe as you draw closer to Mulanje and see it looming over all that surrounds it.

The height of Mulanje is such that it creates its own climate, and it has a great variety of vegetation reflecting its massive range of altitude. Best known and most impressive of the forest trees is the cedar which takes its name from these mountains. The massif stands at the northern limits of its natural habitat but this does not prevent the Mulanje Cedar rising to over 30 metres. This majestic tree stands straight and proud its 2 m trunk protected but a thick fibrous bark.

Mulanje lies to the east of Blantyre and is easily accessible from south Malawi‘s capital. Visitors can drive round the foot of the massif in a day but even more attractive is to walk, trek, hike and camp on the mountain. There is a large network of paths and trails and choices between quite gentle walking and serious climbing. Visitors can spend a couple of hours taking a walk to some river pools and waterfalls, or spend many days exploring the whole massif. Arrangement can be made to hire camping equipment and the services of guides. Further information about hiking on Mulanje can be found in this folder.

Once on the mountain the vegetation changes with altitude and there’s plenty of wildlife from the klipspringer, a tiny antelope, to various other small mammals and, of course, a variety of birds. The latter include buzzard, the black eagle and countless white-necked ravens. Fishing for trout is possible in the River Lichenya which drains the south-western slopes.

The Mountain Club of Mulanje produced a superb, comprehensive Hiking Guide to Mount Mulanje in early 2017. This can be downloaded as a PDF. The guide contains useful information to plan a hike and is full of route details, photos and maps. It presents 18 hiking routes on the mountain,  from short walks around the base to multi-day hikes to the highest points. The routes take hikers to plateaux, peaks, pools and waterfall. The routes are also available on Viewranger.

Unsurprisingly for a vast, foreboding and sometimes unforgiving mountain, local myths and legends abound around Mulanje and visitors are well advised to keep its spirits appeased in the hope of a successful ascent!

The Mount Mulanje Conservation Trust has set up InfoMulanje, a one-stop information and booking office for Mulanje, covering such things as accommodation and guides. Trips to Mulanje of various durations are also offered by Malawi’s tour, safari & activity companies.

Mulanje town, at the base of the mountain, has shops and services as well as a colonial ‘sports club’ (complete with golf course) and a few hotels, lodges and guest houses. Best of those is Africa Wild Truck Camp & Lodge, which offers a variety of accommodation in a converted colonial building and can also organise Mulanje hikes using the local guides and porters, with the lodge providing all necessary supplies.

Just a half hour journey from Mulanje some lovely accommodation is offered at the Thyolo Tea Estates, courtesy of Huntingdon House and Chawani Bungalow, with Game Haven a little further on towards Blantyre.

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Accommodation in or near Mount Mulanje

Huntingdon House

Originally the family home built by Maclean Kay in 1928, Huntingdon House exudes a colonial charm and unique character that cannot be recreated, deep within the Satemwa Tea Estate.

Serendib Blantyre

Serendib Blantyre is made up of three hotels, the Serendib Suites & Conference Centre, the Lotus & the Heritage.

Protea Hotel by Marriott Blantyre Ryalls

The Protea Hotel by Marriott Blantyre Ryalls has recently undergone vast refurbishment and now offers 117 Elegantly furnished Deluxe En-suite rooms.

Villa 33

Villa 33 is the perfect location for business and independent travellers who need short to medium term accommodation in Blantyre. The lodge is set in 1.7 acres of beautiful tropical gardens.

Amaryllis Hotel

The all-new Amaryllis Hotel Blantyre is an artful blend of modern luxury and legendary Malawian hospitality.

Game Haven Lodge

Game Haven Lodge lies within the beautiful 500 acre Chimwenya Game Park, part of the Shire Highlands and one of Malawi's last remaining indigenous rainforests.

AfricaWildTruck Camp & Lodge

AfricaWildTruck Camp and Lodge in Mulanje is an eco friendy lodge and camp located at the base of Mount Mulanje.

Fisherman’s Rest

Fisherman's Rest is short 20 minute drive to the south-west of Blantyre with magnificent views over the Great Rift Valley and Shire river.

Chawani Bungalow

Sited on the slopes of Thyolo Mountain, this historic tea planter’s bungalow is a relaxed, family friendly retreat surrounded by lush subtropical rainforest on Satemwa Estate.


Other Places to Visit in South Malawi

Blantyre & Limbe

The largest urban area in Malawi, the conurbation of Blantyre & Limbe, is the country’s commercial capital.

Chimwenya Game Park

Chimwenya Game Park is a serene, beautiful and privately owned 500 acre game park, in one of the last remaining indigenous forests inteh Shire HIghlands.

Elephant Marsh

Elephant Marsh is part of the flood plain of the River Shire. Though now devoid of elephants it is still home to a fantastic array of birdlife.

Lake Chilwa

Lake Chilwa is Malawi’s second biggest lake, home to unique fishing villages and a designated wetland of international importance because of the huge bird populations it supports.

Lake Malawi National Park

Lake Malawi National Park is the world's first freshwater national park and world heritage site, situated at Cape Maclear.

Lengwe National Park

Lengwe National Park is 350 sq miles of dense vegetation with good birdlife and a number of mammal species to be seen. It is only an hour or so from Blantyre.

Liwonde National Park

Liwonde is perhaps the most popular of all of Malawi's game parks. The River Shire flows along its western border, allowing boat safaris to discover the Big 5 and an array of birdlife.

Lower Shire Valley

The Lower Shire Valley is an extension of the Rift Valley and home to no less than three national parks/wildlife reserves.

Majete Wildlife Reserve

Majete Wildlife Reserve is a unique conservation and tourist destination for all visitors. An amazing success story of recovery and restoration, and now home to the Big 5.

Mangochi

Mangochi is sited between Lakes Malawi and Malombe and has a number of historical monuments dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century.

Mangochi Lakeshore

The Mangochi Lakeshore is a strip of southern Lake Malawi where many popular hotels and resorts offer beachside accommodation.

Monkey Bay

Monkey Bay is considered to be one of Malawi's main lake ports, and is where the famous Ilala ferry docks and begins its weekly sojourn up and down the Lake

Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve

Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve is little neglected in terms of wildlife but the landscape includes scenic rocky outcrops and rivers cutting through impressive gorges.

Thyolo Tea Estates

Tea has been grown at Thyolo, south-east of Blantyre, since 1908 and the primly trimmed bushes (strictly, trees) give the whole area the appearance of a neatly kept but vast garden.

Zomba Plateau

Known for its views, Zomba Plateau is a great slab of a mountain with vast tracts of cedar, pine and cypress and criss-crossed by streams with tumbling waterfalls and still lakes.

Zomba Town

Zomba Town is in a beautiful setting below the plateau of the same name. This was the original capital of Malawi and the first settlement of the colonial administration.


Other Scenic Places to Visit

Chimwenya Game Park

Chimwenya Game Park is a serene, beautiful and privately owned 500 acre game park, in one of the last remaining indigenous forests inteh Shire HIghlands.

Chongoni Rock Art

In the forested granite hills around Dedza is the Chongoni Rock Art Area, a UNESCO World Heritage SIte. this is the densest cluster of ancient rock art found in central Africa.

Dedza

Dedza is a town of interest for a variety of reasons. At 1600m (5300ft) it is the highest town in the country and sits in a beautiful landscape of forests and highlands.

Dzalanyama Forest Reserve

Dzalanyama is approximately 40 km from Lilongwe and covers the steep range of hills which bear the same name. It's a beautiful natural environment to explore and enjoy.

Elephant Marsh

Elephant Marsh is part of the flood plain of the River Shire. Though now devoid of elephants it is still home to a fantastic array of birdlife.

Livingstonia Mission

Livingstonia is a mission station established in 1894 by Robert Laws, a disciple of David Livingstone. Sited at 3000ft above Lake Malawi, there are stunning views across the Lake.

Liwonde National Park

Liwonde is perhaps the most popular of all of Malawi's game parks. The River Shire flows along its western border, allowing boat safaris to discover the Big 5 and an array of birdlife.

Lower Shire Valley

The Lower Shire Valley is an extension of the Rift Valley and home to no less than three national parks/wildlife reserves.

Majete Wildlife Reserve

Majete Wildlife Reserve is a unique conservation and tourist destination for all visitors. An amazing success story of recovery and restoration, and now home to the Big 5.

Manda Wilderness (Mozambique)

A massive 100,000 ha area of Mozambique land which runs to the eastern shore of Lake Malawi forms the Manda Wilderness Community Reserve.

Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve

Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve is little neglected in terms of wildlife but the landscape includes scenic rocky outcrops and rivers cutting through impressive gorges.

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve is one of the two large wildlife areas in Central Malawi. A true wilderness, it has a promising future after recent mass restocking.

Ntchisi Forest Reserve

Ntchisi Forest Reserve contains some of the last remaining indigenous rainforest in Malawi. Some trees tower thirty metres overhead.

Nyika National Park

Nyika is Malawi’s largest park. Superb wildlife and landscapes in one, it offers breathtaking, unique, scenery combined with wonderful safaris.

Thyolo Tea Estates

Tea has been grown at Thyolo, south-east of Blantyre, since 1908 and the primly trimmed bushes (strictly, trees) give the whole area the appearance of a neatly kept but vast garden.

Viphya Plateau

The forested Viphya is a wonderful area for those seeking a combination of stunning scenery and solitude, with opportunities for trekking, mountain biking and various other activities.

Zomba Plateau

Known for its views, Zomba Plateau is a great slab of a mountain with vast tracts of cedar, pine and cypress and criss-crossed by streams with tumbling waterfalls and still lakes.


Where is Mount Mulanje?