Mount Sapitwa is the highest peak in Mulanje Massif, Malawi, and is located in the south eastern part of Malawi bordering Mozambique. It's not an easy trek and can test your strength as well as patience, especially in parts where you need to literally crawl up the rocks with sun shining at your back. I did this trek with a guide and that's pretty much the only way to do it. In fact there were moments when I regretted doing it at all, but my guide kept me going, often taking my bag also when I was too tired to climb.
Here is a recommended three day and two nights itinerary Mt Sapitwa in Malawi based on my personal experiences!
At the base is Mulanje town. Basically to climb the mountains you need a guide compulsorily. This is good because the trails up there are barely marked, and many have also lost their lives getting lost there. Secondly, there are huts near the all the trails and peaks for you to stay overnight. The huts are minimal but really good. There are many huts to choose from, though the trail or the peak you choose to conquer decides the hut.
So, for a three day-two night trek to Mt Sapitwa, you will have to stay overnight in two different huts. The huts need to be booked in advance and it's really difficult to do this through phone calls. I basically just reached there and looked for ways to book a hut. And this is where InfoMulanje comes into picture. They book the huts, arrange govt approved guide and porter and also help you plan the trip. For this they take a ten percent commission which I felt was very fair.
Reach Chitakale by mini bus or taxi from Blantyre. Mini bus costs KW 1400 while taxi can cost upto KW 40,000 ($47). From Blantyre take a bus to Limbe (KW 200 or $0.20) and then another bus to Mulanje town (KW 1200 or $1.5).
Look for InfoMulanje office (ask anyone) and go up on the first floor. The staff is really nice and helpful and will spend time answering your queries and also in helping you plan. You obviously need a guide but I strongly recommend taking a porter. I didn't take one and regretted it. As of now the guide costs $25 and porter costs $20 per day. The staff will also help you decide the huts you can stay in. Starting early in the morning is highly recommended.
The climb on first day will start in the tea plantations and end a hut. It takes about 4.5 to 5 hours of tough trekking. The first half an hour is great, but the next 2.5 hrs are quite tough. The last bit is sort of plateau and actually relaxes you. You can carry some water with you, but eventually you will have to survive on water from the small mountain rivers all over the place.
Finally you reach the hut where you will eat dinner and sleep. There is no electricity, so it's quite easy to sleep off around eight. While you are there, make sure you look up and observe the Milky Way - the view is unbelievable.
Day 2 - Trek to mount Sapitwa
Start at 6am from the first hut and trek for around 5 hours to reach the second hut. There is quite a bit of very steep hiking and you would need loads of water and multiple breaks to reach. No matter how tired you feel, keep up with it. There are many water streams and you can refill your bottles easily.
The hardest is the upward trek before you start going down to the second hut.
If you reach by 11am, you can take rest for about half an hour or forty-five minutes and start the final climb up to Mt Sapitwa summit. The first leg of the trek is rather tough, with extremely steep hike on barren rocks. The last section is also quite steep, but much shorter.
The hike to the summit takes about 3.5 hrs and the downward journey to the hut takes about 2.5 hrs.
The day starts at 5am and you leave the hut for the return trek before 6am. But do not be fooled, return trek does not mean no mountain climbing, even though you come down most of the times. There are two steep climbs. And some really slippery downward treks where your shoes simply refuse to grip.
And the grand finale are the Likhubula falls, hidden in the mountains. The lake here is believed to be about 60m deep, and the water is very cold. If you know swimming, get into your swimming trunks and jump in! It's a very refreshing end to the trek.
The trek ends in the forest and you need to take a bicycle taxi to reach back to the town. At KW 700, it's a little expensive, but it's a very difficult ride as well.
You should be back at InfoMulanje by 2pm. Have your lunch in town and then head out to the next destination :)