It wasn’t as cold as expected overnight. There was no frost on the ground and I was feeling quite hot in my sleeping bag. The fire burning for a while last night helped too.
It was a fairly overcast morning, the clouds were up high in the sky. The peak of Mt. Sapitwa wasn’t covered in clouds, a good sign. I was probably pushing my luck with the weather gods, being lucky with weather conditions so many times on my travels.
And I was lucky this time too. This was an even more spectacular sight.
The sun pierced through the clouds on to the valley below north of us, trailing clear visible rays. This sure was an awesome sight. The valley itself appeared a bit misty, the holes in the clouds allowed sun rays to pinpoint certain areas.
There was a science fiction feel to it, like aliens beaming up or down.
The 4 Belgians enjoyed the view too. Nenani and I were the last ones to leave. No rush today as we are returning to the same hut for another night.
This hike turned in to one of the toughest mountain climbs I have done for a very long time. It goes up, and straight up. Walking on steep granite slopes isn’t easy in dry conditions, and dangerous in wet.
In sheer rock climbing fashion with center of body mass shifting or gripping on to tiny ledges with your fingertips, to squeezing through little caves, this hike had it all.
As the hut disappeared smaller on our dial, the view becomes further and farther ahead. The cloud cover changed, which showed the piercing rays for a few more hours.
Boulders were covered in moss,
changed to green mossy shady pockets,
a sub-tropical alpine area appeared,
only to become another labyrinth of granite boulders.
Colourful vegetation seems to thrive here,
Low clouds moved in eventually but stayed clear for a while once we reached the summit, at long last. The view over the valleys and mountains near and far was breathtaking, so was the air at 3002 m elevation.
One of the Belgian girls took a few photos of me with my magic walking stick I never use. I bought the stick from local a craftsmen as a reminder of the Mulanje Mountains. The engraving shows where and when. I wanted to take a photo with Nenani and myself, but he disappeared for a good while. Shame, a photo together on top of Mt. Sapitwa would have been nice. Probably better phone reception over there.
We had our clear view for a little but were covered in clouds soon enough. It has gotten noticeably colder and windier quickly. We descended this challenging track down, which isn’t any easier. If you have short legs or problems with knees or ankles, then think twice to tackle this track. This hiking trail is hard to follow and one could easily lose track of the track, paying more attention to getting up the boulders and losing a sense of orientation. That happened last in 2008 when a Brazilian fellow was found frozen to death halfway of the mark.
‘Sapitwa’ in local Chichewa language means as much as ‘don’t go there’. An ancient story of old tells about a man climbing up the mountain and found to his surprise some food, which he ate. He told his friends about that phenomenon, but as soon as he did, he disappeared without a trace. Climbing down really was just as challenging as going up, paying attention to right footing with tired legs. The view was still spectacular, even with clouds all around. I was exhausted from getting back to the hut and happy to take my hiking boots off to relax. My knees felt a bit sore and swollen, but not too bad in comparison to the beating they’ve taken. I just finished lunch, as a young Scottish party of six arrived. I met them in Blantyre at the same Backpackers too. A really small world. They’re doing the same trip as me, up to the hut today and climbing Mt. Sapitwa tomorrow.
The sky cleared up late afternoon and I decided to follow the neighbouring creek, gently flowing down the slopes.
Looking up, towards the mountains gave a splendid view.
Surrounding mountains reflected in clear waters.
Looking north and over the valley below was just as stunning. Calm waters provided reflections of native plants around. What a place to be. The sun disappeared behind the mountains and it got cooler immediately. Still manageable though, it could always be much colder. The Scotts brought some ‘Malawian Gold ‘chamba’ and we shared a few rounds and chats together. One of the girls asked if I live up here, as I seem to feel very homey here. Yes, I do, but no I don’t.
The evening sky cleared up, a star shredded sky appeared. Clearly seen is the Southern Cross over Mt. Sapitwa.
What a way to finish the day. After a cuppa tea in front of the warming fire, it was time to sneak into my sleeping bag. I laid in a slight angle to the fireplace, smoldering away and fiery colours. A teapot in front added plenty to the spectrum. I just couldn’t close my eyes, quite amazing.
The movement of the fire changed the shadows of the teapot, almost looking like an animated movie ‘The beauty and the Beast’. Only beauty up here though.
That is why I think that this photo is one of the best I have taken so far.
2 thoughts on “Climbing Mt. Sapitwa, Mulanje Mountains, Malawi”
A lovely way to fall asleep
Yes it was… another memorable moment…