Malawi 2011 - Zomba Plateau & Mulanje Massif

After several days at the Lake we were heading further south. We had hoped to visit Liwonde National Park, which is reported to be the best park in Malawi, however when we arrived at the entrance gate we were told that the campsite near the entrance had been closed down and that the track to the other camp further away was impassable due to heavy rain earlier in the year washing away some bridges. We were able to stop at a campsite not far from the entrance but decided against driving into the park as there were only a few km of tracks open but they were still charging the normal park entrance price.

Zomba Plateau

Our next destination was the Zomba Plateau and we had a good view of it as we approached from the north.

After getting supplies in Zomba town at the foot of the Plateau we drove up a narrow winding road to Kuchawe Trout Farm campsite (S15 21.200 E35 18.049) which is in a clearing in the forest. On the way we stopped to buy wild raspberries from a guy at the side of the road - they were delicious!

There is still a small trout farm in operation next to campsite but, at this time of the year, the trout are breeding so we weren't able to buy any - a pity as they would have made an excellent meal on the braai.

At 1600m it was noticeably colder than by the lake, especially once the sun disappeared behind the trees, but with a good fire going and wearing fleeces and socks we were fine.

One morning we drove around the top of the Plateau along a narrow and, in places, badly rutted and uneven track but the views were worth it.

We drove to a lookout point at Chingwe’s Hole(S15 19.715 E35 16.608) with wonderful views along the edge of the Plateau and over the valley below.  Although on the top of the Plateau it was clear and sunny there was a lot of cloud down below us on the North Western cliffs so we couldn’t see Lake Malawi but did glimpse the Shire River meandering through the wide valley floor.

The view over Zomba town from the southern side of the plateau was much clearer and we could see for miles.

As we visited Malawi after the rainy season the landscape was green and lush and there were plenty of flowers on the plateau as well as small dams, stream and waterfalls hidden amongst the forest.

We passed lots of schools. Most of them were brick built buildings with brieze block windows. If we waved the kids always waved back.

We passed plenty of small shops and stores in the villages that we drove through. Many of them, like this one, had big names!

Mulanje Massif

The Mulanje Massif is the largest mountain area in Malawi reaching 3000m in height but you can only reach the top on foot from a range of footpaths mostly starting from the Likhubula Forestry Station on the western side of the mountain.

It's not possible to reach the top and back in a day so there are several huts on the plateau where you can stay, however you need to take food, cooking utensils and bedding - you can hire porters to carry your stuff. The problem we had was that our kit wasn't suitable for carrying as we only had large gas bottles, thin sleeping bags and thick heavy blankets - perhaps we'll return in the future with the right kit.

As we approached from Blantyre we could see the cloud covered Mulanje Massif rising up above the surrounding land.

Tea plantations alongside the road with Mulanje Massif in the background. Most of the time the top of the plateau was covered in cloud but we did catch occasional glimpses of the top.

The gravel road leading to Likhubula Forestry Station.

Dedza Pottery & Mphunzi Mountain.

Southern Lakeside - Monkey Bay, Cape Maclear & Senga Bay.

Zomba Plateau & Mulanje Massif.

Majete Wildlife Reserve.

Kasungu National Park.

Viphya Forest Reserve.

Nyika National Park & Vzawa Marsh Wildlife Reserve.

Northern Lakeside - Chintheche & Mkondowe.


Diary (Word document).

We camped at Likhubula House which has a small campsite (S15 56.386 E35 30.152)which also serves as a car park for day visitors to the rocks pools in the nearby river. We chatted to Casper, from Holland, who also stayed at the campsite and had this huge truck all to himself!

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