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Mount Mulanje

Mount Mulanje, Malawi

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'ss 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 in Mount Mulanje in early 2017.

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