While Mount Mulanje is certainly the best known mountain area in Malawi, it is by no means the only one. Some of the other mountainous areas are described below.
The Zomba Plateau dominates the old capital city of Zomba, which has a number of interesting colonial buildings, a good vegetable market, and plenty of other shops, accommodation and eating places. Unlike Mulanje, there are roads up to the plateau, and the terrain is generally softer and gentler, with fewer and lower peaks. It’s an excellent place for rambling and hiking, with a number of easily followed roads and trails. The plateau itself is protected by the oldest forest reserve in Malawi and contains extensive pine plantations as well as rolling grassland, montane forest, scrub and woodland. A 36-page booklet, Zomba Mountain: A Walker’s Guide by Martyn and Kittie Cundy, is available from bookshops in Blantyre.
The view from Zomba plateau over to Lake Chilwa.
The area around Dedza town, which lies between Lilongwe and Blantyre, contains several forest reserves which are well worth exploring, including Dedza Mountain, Chongoni and Mua-Livulezi. The main peak is Nkoma Mountain (1,784m) which lies to the east of the mail Lilongwe-Dedza road. The highland climate makes the area particularly pleasant in the hot season.
The Nyika National Park in the north of Malawi is the largest of its type in the country. The Nyika plateau, which is around 2,000m high (comparable to Mulanje), is mainly rolling grassland and heather, with occasional forests of pine, eucalyptus and indigenous trees. There is a vast network of dirt roads and paths to explore. An excellent reference is A Visitor’s Guide to Nyika National Park, Malawi by Sigrid Anna Johnson, which is available at bookshops in Lilongwe and Blantyre.
In addition, there are isolated hills and mountains spread around the country, often rising quite abruptly from the surrounding plain. Many of these can be climbed (local advice helps) using village paths and give splendid views of the surrounding countryside. Wherever possible, ask permission to cross cultivated land, and park your vehicle somewhere public without leaving valuable items on show.