The Mountain Club of Malawi is a social club for citizens and residents of Malawi. It aims to encourage and assist people to make the most of the unique opportunities that Malawi provides. Malawi’s many beautiful mountains offer everything from gentle walks to challenging terrains and support a wide variety of flora and fauna, rivers and pools.



MCM camping trip to Fort Mangochi: 21/22 April 2018

Fort Mangochi (originally called Fort Johnston) was built in 1895, in the hills close to Namwera, by the British to suppress the slave trade. It was inhabited by an Indian Sikh regiment and Yao soldiers with a sizeable village growing around it – up 25,000 people. The fort was used as a prison from 1907-1910 and as a training camp during World War 1 by the King’s African Rifles. Today significant ruins remain and the walls of the fort, a metre thick and several metres tall, clearly display the layout of the fort.

MCM is planning a camping trip to the fort on the weekend of 21/22 April. We will hike up through forest to the fort from Skull Rock Estate (on the Saturday morning). The hike will start at 9am so we will gather at Skull Rock from 8.30am. It will be a pretty hot and dry walk and will take about 3 hours. We will hire a local guide and porters are available to carry tents and other luggage. Water is available at the fort from a spring for drinking and cooking and we will collect firewood for a camp fire. On Saturday afternoon there will be time to explore the fort. Carl Bruessow will give a campfire talk on the history of Fort Mangochi on the Saturday evening. For those with sufficient energy on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning we will hike further to the rain forest on a neighbouring ridge. Elephants, leopard and aardvark have been recently caught on camera traps in this forest! Although we are unlikely to see them the forest itself is spectacular. Children are welcome as long as they can make the climb!

A communal chilli (meat and veg options) meal will be prepared on Saturday evening on the campfire. We will share the costs of this. Bring a plate and a spoon! You should bring all other food for lunches, breakfast, snacks, drinks. The spring water is clean but you may wish to bring purifying tablets.

This entire area is within the Mangochi Forest Reserve which is contiguous with Liwonde National Park. It is likely that Africa Parks will soon be awarded a concession to manage the forest reserve so freedom to wander into the reserve unaccompanied may not be available for much longer!

We will return to Skull Rock on Sunday afternoon in time to drive back to Blantyre/Lilongwe etc.

Skull Rock Estate is reached from the town of Majuni on the scenic Liwonde – Mangochi road that passes through Namwera . If driving from Blantyre drive through Namwera and Majuni is reached after another 7-8km. If starting at the Mangochi end (e.g. if coming from Lilongwe) Majuni is 30km after the bridge in Mangochi. In Majuni there is a dirt road (off to the left if coming from the Liwonde end, and off to the right if coming from the Mangochi end) that heads down to Skull Rock Estate where parking is available at the tobacco barns  – approximately 7-8km.

If you would like to take part in this trip please let Maggie know by email on maggie.otoole@africa-online.net  by Friday 13th April. Please indicate whether you will need a porter (or more). Depending on interest we may have to limit numbers so book fast!

MCM Manga Peak Day Trip

A nearly annual event by now, Maggie once again organized a day hike to the intimidating, but iconic Manga Peak. This is the stunning granite peak on the edge of Mount Mulanje, easily visible from the Boma. It was an early departure from Blantyre for 7 hikers, an earlier departure from Chiradzulu for one hiker, and an even earlier start for two dedicated hikers from Zomba. Hopes were high that the hike would finish before the early evening darkness made the downhill hike even more difficult. We set off from Nessa Village with two guides after a bit of confusion regarding where to park the cars as the designated area is now at the very top of Nessa Village. Not even ten minutes into the hike, the soles of BOTH of Amelia’s hiking boots fell off! With the help of her fellow hikers, the soles were quickly tied onto her boots, creating a semi-stable solution that allowed her to continue the hike. The beginning of the hike takes you through pineapple fields and small holder tea estates, up and down a deep ravine, then up, up up! The track is quite narrow and overgrown with bush, so you are fighting vines and brambles as you ascend. All hikers were sporting various degrees of bloody scratches by the top. Gaining elevation quite quickly, the path allows for some beautiful views of the surrounding area, even despite the haze from smoke and dust. After emerging from the bush, the flat granite slabs felt like a relief. The next portion of the track follows these granite slabs, still quite a steep track. Leveling out on a plateau, the granite continued, but now you were amongst fields of small cactus. From here, you could see Manga Peak across the valley with a ridgeline along the crater edge designating our path forward. The landscape was just beautiful, full of bright purple and yellow flowers, some as tall as your head! To reach the ridgeline, we dropped down the saddle into a forest of bamboo, the trail covered with oval shaped, brown leaves. The final climb to the peak was quite steep; sheer granite slabs with tufts of grass to serve as foot and hand grips. A short trek over the peak brings you to the stunning view point looking over the crater across to the Lichenya Plateau, well worth the 4+ hour hike. There was a pleasant breeze at the top, but it was very sunny. Martin proceeded to unpack the equivalent of his body weight in food from his pack. One hiker became ill and chundered atop the peak, but thankfully two medics were available to provide support and treatment and she made a full recovery and was able to hike again after lunch, now with a new nickname of the Manga Peak Chunderer. Maggie, Walter, and Ben all took a lie-down near the precipice. Amelia made a shady spot with a chitenje draped over a small tree. Polly’s homemade chocolate chip cookies were the perfect treat before beginning the descent back to Nessa. Somehow on the way down, Maggie and Polly got off trail and took their own route down. Realizing they were lost and alone, they phoned the guide to assist them. Shortly after, a few other members of the group caught up with them and after some backtracking, including some steep uphills, they rejoined the other group. We made it back to the car park before dark, everyone in good spirits despite the chundering, the scrapes and scratches, the bush-bashing, the sole-less shoes, and the minor scenic detour some hikers took. The ride home to Blantyre was a quiet ride as everyone either slept or reflected on the accomplishments of the day. Thanks, Maggie, for another amazing hike!