We were woken up nice an early, although quite unexpectedly. Knocking wildly was a persistent chap we met yesterday who tried to sell us some stoves and pots for the mountain huts, since apparently they only provide fire.. I had already told him last night that we were not prepared to pay what he was asking to borrow a pot for 3 days, and because he was so ridiculously over priced to begin with I refused to buy. Nonetheless he woke us up perhaps hoping this good deed would make him some money.... He was very wrong.
We had out bags packed ready and after a good nights sleep, ready to conquer Mulanje!
Rightly or wrongly we left the rest if out luggage at the next motel which looked more respectable and made a deal with manager that he would get £4 if he kept our bags locked up in his office.
After a short bike taxi to Mulanje town, we waited for the info centre to open with hopefully good news on a guide and route. To pass the time we went to next door cafe and had fresh tea from the plantations surrounding Mulanje. Although they drink their tea with sugar as standard, it was still very palatable, they even cut up a pineapple I had been hauling around for the past few days for free.
Arranged a guide for £6 a day and set a route. 1day up to the plateau, which is as high as you can see from the ground level! HIGH!! Then second day consists of a hike across varies terrain for 4 and half hours before trying to conquer the summit which is 3.5 hous up, 2.5 hours down. Final day would be all downhill.
After buying basic things to cook whilst trying to keep the weight down we headed off straight from town. Heading through vast fields if tea and watching the pickers work solidly without a break or a straight back in site!
The hike soon started to take it's tole, especially physiologically, since you can see how far away you are from reaching the plateau. After what seemed like an age we reached a kind if oasis. Fresh mountain water pouring down through lush green, shaded woodland following a valley down the mountainside. After the initial excitement of getting out of the blistering heat we filled our bottles and washed off all the sweat, then headed off again.
We saw some African giant snails, plenty of lizards and geckos on route which kept Tom entertained.
The hike then turned into a climb as we were having to scramble up some very steep, bear vertical steps eroded into the rock.
Eventually we reached the top. I was dripping wet, it hadn't rained... The plateau was lush and green almost like the oasis's we passes along the way, very unlike the barren landscape of most the way up.. Few trees but thick green grass with a marsh feel underfoot.
Our guide said 2 more hours until we reach the hut where were staying.
The hut was a welcome site, although very, very basic it had a fire already lit and beds, which is more than I was expecting.
For tea we worriwed pans from the hut and cooked pasta and beans, very stodgy but neither of us cared, it was full of carbohydrates.
After a "shower" (wash with some cold water in a bowl) I hit the hay, big day tomorrow..