In 2015 The Responsible Safari Co. are running the first ever Malawian Triathlon. A Bike, Hike and Kayak race in Malawi’s stunning and varied scenery, it will be a challenge that gets the heart racing with excitement and adrenaline in equal measure - and where better to do it than the luscious tea estates of Malawi, Central Africa’s highest mountain and the ever-tranquil Lake Malawi...
• A 60km Bike ride through the Tea Estates of Thyolo
• A 2day Hike on Mount Mulanje, Central Africa's highest mountain
• A 10km Kayak to an island on Malawi's Southern Lakeshore.
Alice, Responsible Safari Co. 's Marketing Consultant has been out to test out the first two sections of the triathlon:
MALAWI CHALLENGE PART 1: BIKING FROM SATEMWA TEA ESTATE TO MOUNT MULANJE
Two weeks ago I set my alarm for 4.00am, wincing at the thought of getting up so early, and packed my bag for a day of cycling from Satemwa Tea Estates to Mount Mulanje. Needless to say, the wake up call was not enjoyable, but following this the day got better and better…
Cycling through the lush countryside of the tea estates, with the hazy sun starting it’s day and the mist rising off Mount Mulanje was absolutely stunning. The bright green of the tealeaves, the deep red of the mud and the bluest of blue skies was like cycling through a disney animation.
We cycled for approximately 4 and a half hours, easing our way to the huge target of Mount Mulanje in the distance. We cycled through villages with children waving and running after us, shouting out ‘bobo’ (Slang for ‘hello’) as we went. In one village we picked up a man heading in the same direction who joined us for a few kilometres. It put my pace and aching legs to shame as he rode on a rickety old bike carrying a pile of wood and zoomed passed me.
The ride was great fun, hard work and definitely requires a good level of physical fitness, but the distractions of beautiful scenery and waving and smiling villagers made me forget the burn in my legs and keep pushing.
The prize of reaching Mount Mulanje after seeing it slowly inch closer and closer was worth it. As a finish line it doesn’t get much better than that.
And that’s where I’m heading next…
MALAWI CHALLENGE PART 2: HIKING MULANJE
Stage two of the Malawi Challenge is a 2-day hike up to the Mulanje Plateau with optional peak climbs.
We set off about 10am and walked through a village saying our hellos and bobos as the children waved us on our journey. We walked for about 6 hours, mostly on a steady incline. Whilst we maintained a steady plod on up it was always a bit of a shock when we had a break and turned back to see how far we had come – the village was becoming smaller and smaller in the distance (though the top of the plateau didn’t seem to be getting any closer!).
We arrived at our hut around 4pm and it felt like paradise on earth after the day of climbing. We headed straight to the nearby stream to cool off – which wasn’t hard as the water was FREEZING. It was a stunning place to relax and reflect on the day’s achievement as the sun set over the peaks.
The huts are basic but they have everything you need and for me it added to the charm of the weekend. It was pure escapism in every sense. Waking up well-rested and eating your porridge on the deck whilst you watch the mist rise off the peaks is more than worth the energy spent climbing up. And not many toilets have this view…
The descent down the mountain was mostly on a forested path though we took a slight detour and visited a waterfall dropping from the top of the plateau. The view from here was beyond stunning. It was incredible to see how far we had come and how high up we were – and also quite disturbing that we now needed to climb back down again.
I found the descent harder than climbing up. As it had rained during the night the path was slippery and we all fell on our bums on numerous times. At some points it felt like we should just slide down, and I did suggest to our guide that a water slide would be a very good addition to the mountain. He wasn’t convinced.
As we stumbled, fell and occasionally walked down the mountain I remember thinking I just didn’t want it to end. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful, tranquil and enjoyable places I have been and I’m already planning my next hike up.
Alice’s adventures of the final section, the 10km kayak, are coming soon.
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