Quite literally, J.R.R. Tolkien is supposed to have visited Malawi in the 1930s just before he wrote The Hobbit. There seems near irrefutable evidence supporting this claim:
|After climbing for 5 hours, we finally reached the |
plateau - quite Lord of the Ring-esque, no?
2. There is a legend that a secret population still lives in the mountains. At least according to oral tradition, the plateaux of Mulanje Mountain used to be inhabited by the Batwa - Stone Age
hunters and gatherers. In Chichewa, Batwa means dwarf - not a bad precursor to hobbits!
3. Check out the photos for yourself, from the mist shrouding the jagged peaks, to fields of mysterious and almost alien-looking trees, plants and grasses.
Apart from the Tolkien connection, the talk of spirits surrounding and inhabiting the mountain range was also alluded to numerous times during our 2 day excursion. This is certainly reflected in local beliefs and names. The highest peak, Sapitwa, translate into "do not go there" in Chichewa, suggesting that the peak is out of bounds for spiritual reasons. While we were socializing in the lodge on the plateau, whenever there was silence, we ewre told that spirits had past. According to villagers those who disobey the spirits often pay a high price. Several locals and visitors have disappeared over the years, including a Dutch woman in 1994 whose body was never found despite both governments searching for weeks. Creepy.
|Navigating tea plantations: Local villagers|
carrying back collected dried grasses for
building roofs and fences
|Stunning landscape |
we encountered during the climb
|The CCAP lodge where we cooked, rested and |
checked out some unreal stars!
The hike down was much tamer, lucky considering my calves haven't worked so hard in awhile! We stopped and admired the view much more, drinking from small waterfalls and if you're me, slipping and skinning yourself on slippery rocks!
|Our group - James, Bonnie, Me, Geoff, Rylea, Steven, |
Louise and Dominique (missing our rasta porter Chiku)
All in all, a great time climbing and you never know if the allure of Sapitwa will bring me back in the coming months.
Also, for anyone who reads in French, you should check out Dominique's blog here.