Although mostly known for the stunning Lake Malawi and, more recently, for its extensive programme of successful conservation and wildlife rehabilitation, Malawi’s beautiful and varied landscapes are also a key attraction for its visitors. Despite its small size, the country is home to a remarkable diversity of scenery – mountains, plateaux, highlands, plains, river valleys and more. Malawi’s highlands reach up to 10,000ft and are green, lush, rugged in places, and just waiting to be explored.
Now, it seems, they are being!
A newly emerging operation, Climb Malawi, is now drawing attention to Malawi’s climbing riches, and giving residents and visitors increasing opportunities to access them. A self-proclaimed ‘socio-economically inclusive climbing community in the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ where everyone is welcome and no one is turned away’, Climb Malawi has set up a donation-based climbing gym in Lilongwe, and is developing bouldering and climbing areas around the country. Their aims are to encourage more local Malawians to try the sport, and also bring in the valuable revenue from international climbers to help local communities and general development. Climbing hotspots around the world can attract tens of thousands each year, collectively spending millions of dollars.
In November, Malawi’s’ credentials as a climbing destination hit the headlines with feature articles in the likes of The New York Times, for whom, Michael Levy asked ‘Is Rock Climbing the Future of Malawi’? As the country is ‘blessed with an abundance of rock … speckled with fine-grained granite domes soaring for thousands of feet; small steeper cliffs coloured cantaloupe-orange; and innumerable boulder fields littered with house-sized block’, it’s hardly surprising that those in the know see ‘huge, mind-boggling potential’ with some real gems – ‘if you’ve climbed anywhere in the world, you know a wall like Chambe with that quality of rock is a rarity. It’s a gold mine.’ Mount Mulanje (home of Chambe) already boasts the longest technical rock climb in Africa, but its current approximately 25 routes could easily be expanded 100 fold.
Likewise, on GearJunkie.com, Andrew McLemore was categorical that: “There’s no doubt that Malawi has nearly endless potential for climbing. Its abundant granite domes, cliffs, and boulders make it a world-class destination for all kinds of rockhounds. Longer routes range from 300 feet to an incredible 5,600 feet.” Climb Malawi founder Tyler Algeo, is equally excited by the opportunities: “There’s this super exciting time here, an ocean of rock, and an incredibly excited community … It’s a really excellent and unparalleled opportunity to do something different.”
With climbing offering another string to Malawi’s tourism bow, and yet more diversity to the experiences and attractions on offer to visitors, it’s no surprise that the country is now being hailed as ‘one of Africa’s most complete destinations’.
About The Author: David DiGregorio
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