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Mount Mulanje is situated in southern Malawi. It is a massif rather than a single mountain, with multiple peaks of which the highest is Sapitwa at just over 3,000 metres. The scenery on the massif makes for rewarding hiking, and a network of well-maintained huts provides cooking and sleeping facilities for hikers. A trip to Mount Mulanje by Laurens van der Post inspired his book "Voyage into the Interior".
A short itinerary to consider is a 3 day/2 night hike, stopping at Chambe (2 available huts) the first night, and Lichenya (also 2 available huts, including the CCAP one) the second. Done from Blantyre, this itinerary will not require any accommodation in Chitikale, Mulanje-Boma, or Likubula.
There is a one-off payment of MK100 (Aug 2009) to enter the national park in which Mount Mulanje sits. Guides are available for MK1300 per day (Aug 2009) - they are supposed to be allocated on a rotation basis at the park office in Likubula (from where most ascents of the massif begin), but you will no doubt be approached by would-be guides in Chitikale and Mulanje-Boma. The quality of the guides varies a lot, both in terms of the information they provide as well as their self-sufficiency - they are supposed to provide their own food but some may suggest that they share yours. Porters can also be hired at the park office. The watchmen at the huts on the massif will bring you firewood, water and mattresses/blankets - they will expect to be tipped for this at the end of your stay, for which MK200 per night (Aug 2009) should suffice.
Information about the massif can be obtained at InfoMulanje in Chitikale, which has this website. Maps (not really necessary if you intend hiring a guide) cost MK100 (Aug 2009) and sleeping bags can be hired for MK700 per day (Aug 2009). You can also leave any unneeded luggage at InfoMulanje for free during your hike.
Hikes up the massif start from Likubula, though the nearest accommodation is in Chitikale or its sister Mulanje-Boma. A minibus from Blantyre (Limbe) to Chitikale costs MK450 (Aug 2009) and takes 1.5 hours. It then costs MK150 (Aug 2009) to get from Chitikale to Likubula. The return journey has more custom and hence is cheaper - MK100 (Aug 2009) from Likubula to Chitikale, and MK300 (Aug 2009) from Chitikale to Blantyre (Limbe). Note that these prices can vary wildly depending on how much the conductor thinks he can get away with. Don't be afraid to ask for a group discount if there's more than one of you.
You can stock up on equipment and food in Chitikale though choice is limited. There is a Visa ATM but no Mastercard one in Mulanje-Boma.
The cooking facilities at most of the huts on the massif are simply fires and water, so you need to bring your own cooking equipment and food - these are obtainable in Chitikale market, but the food selection (in particular pasta sauces) is dismal so you might prefer to bring supplies from Blantyre instead. The one exception is the CCAP hut, which has plentiful cooking equipment.
Coke and Carlsberg are available at at least some of the huts (e.g. France's Cottage at Chambe), though they obviously cost more than off the massif due to having been carted up the mountain.
If you need budget accommodation before or after your hike, then Chitikale or its sister Mulanje-Boma are the closest towns to Mount Mulanje, but the accommodation options in both are unimpressive so you would be better advised to time things so that you avoid having to stay in either.
All accommodation on Mount Mulanje is in dorms and needs to be paid for in advance. Government huts (the majority) cost MK700 pppn (Aug 2009) and need to be paid for at the park office in Likubula. The CCAP hut, run by a mission organisation based near the park office, costs MK885 pppn (Aug 2009).
as well as Utrecht (9%)
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