Mountain Safety

Like any mountain, Mulanje is a rugged place where accidents often happen and it can be very dangerous in bad weather. Many tragedies and injuries have occurred on the mountain that could have been avoided, so don't be complacent and respect your trip leader’s decisions. Always stick to these ten golden rules:
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  1. NEVER, EVER CLIMB ALONE. A party of at least four is ideal, and do take a guide or porter if your party is small. Guides and porters are readily available and inexpensive on Mulanje and strongly advised if it’s your first time on the mountain, whatever your experience.
  1. Choose a route within the experience, ability and fitness of your group. Have a good look at the information on this site and elsewhere, and take advice locally before you decide what to do. Be honest about what you all want to do: it’s supposed to be an enjoyable experience, after all!
  2. Use a guidebook, map and compass (and GPS if you have one) and preferably go with someone who knows the way. Conditions on Mulanje can change rapidly, with sudden mists and storms that limit visibility severely. Always keep track of your position and be prepared to retreat safely.
  3. Ensure that at least one group member has a fully charged cell phone and preferably one for each service provider in Malawi. Coverage on Mulanje is patchy, and you should definitely not rely on getting through in the event of an accident.
  4. Always go well prepared (food, clothes and equipment) for bad, cold and wet weather. People have died on the mountain because they set off in sunshine and weren’t prepared for sitting out bad conditions. Consider taking some cheap survival bags.
  5. Tell someone your daily plan of where you’re going and when you’re coming back, and stick to it. Officials at the base of Mulanje and the hut watchmen will expect you to tell them in writing what your party intends to do. You should always leave a copy of your plans in the hut, and tell others who you meet on the mountain what they are.
  6. Travel at the pace of the slowest member of the group and attend to any foot problems at an early stage. You must agree to travel as a group, especially if you’re not used to travelling together. Change your plan if necessary so that group members don’t get over-tired, and that you all remain in good condition.
  7. NEVER SPLIT UP and go in different directions. The terrain on Mulanje is frequently difficult, and it’s extremely hard to find a lost individual. If you need to recce a short distance ahead, set a time limit and keep in touch constantly. Consider taking whistles for communication.
  8. Don’t push on into the unknown. Take note of your trail so that you can retrace your steps if you get lost. See Point 3, above. There are large-scale maps in all the Mulanje huts that are good for planning purposes. Identify the main features on it and, if necessary, make a sketch of your intended route to help you keep track of your position.
  9. If you are unsure of what to do next, then find shelter from the weather and stay put until it is clear. A reasonably well-equipped group can survive for several days in the relative safety of a cave or sheltered area. Most accidents happen when people try to get down in poor conditions and get lost on unfamiliar or dangerous ground.