A nearly annual event by now, Maggie once again organized a day hike to the intimidating, but iconic Manga Peak. This is the stunning granite peak on the edge of Mount Mulanje, easily visible from the Boma. It was an early departure from Blantyre for 7 hikers, an earlier departure from Chiradzulu for one hiker, and an even earlier start for two dedicated hikers from Zomba. Hopes were high that the hike would finish before the early evening darkness made the downhill hike even more difficult. We set off from Nessa Village with two guides after a bit of confusion regarding where to park the cars as the designated area is now at the very top of Nessa Village. Not even ten minutes into the hike, the soles of BOTH of Amelia’s hiking boots fell off! With the help of her fellow hikers, the soles were quickly tied onto her boots, creating a semi-stable solution that allowed her to continue the hike. The beginning of the hike takes you through pineapple fields and small holder tea estates, up and down a deep ravine, then up, up up! The track is quite narrow and overgrown with bush, so you are fighting vines and brambles as you ascend. All hikers were sporting various degrees of bloody scratches by the top. Gaining elevation quite quickly, the path allows for some beautiful views of the surrounding area, even despite the haze from smoke and dust. After emerging from the bush, the flat granite slabs felt like a relief. The next portion of the track follows these granite slabs, still quite a steep track. Leveling out on a plateau, the granite continued, but now you were amongst fields of small cactus. From here, you could see Manga Peak across the valley with a ridgeline along the crater edge designating our path forward. The landscape was just beautiful, full of bright purple and yellow flowers, some as tall as your head! To reach the ridgeline, we dropped down the saddle into a forest of bamboo, the trail covered with oval shaped, brown leaves. The final climb to the peak was quite steep; sheer granite slabs with tufts of grass to serve as foot and hand grips. A short trek over the peak brings you to the stunning view point looking over the crater across to the Lichenya Plateau, well worth the 4+ hour hike. There was a pleasant breeze at the top, but it was very sunny. Martin proceeded to unpack the equivalent of his body weight in food from his pack. One hiker became ill and chundered atop the peak, but thankfully two medics were available to provide support and treatment and she made a full recovery and was able to hike again after lunch, now with a new nickname of the Manga Peak Chunderer. Maggie, Walter, and Ben all took a lie-down near the precipice. Amelia made a shady spot with a chitenje draped over a small tree. Polly’s homemade chocolate chip cookies were the perfect treat before beginning the descent back to Nessa. Somehow on the way down, Maggie and Polly got off trail and took their own route down. Realizing they were lost and alone, they phoned the guide to assist them. Shortly after, a few other members of the group caught up with them and after some backtracking, including some steep uphills, they rejoined the other group. We made it back to the car park before dark, everyone in good spirits despite the chundering, the scrapes and scratches, the bush-bashing, the sole-less shoes, and the minor scenic detour some hikers took. The ride home to Blantyre was a quiet ride as everyone either slept or reflected on the accomplishments of the day. Thanks, Maggie, for another amazing hike!

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