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Mulanje Mountain Day 3 – The Chapaluka Pools

Morning sunshine: Eerik and Matthew enjoy porridge for breakfast

The new day began with Chambe’s East Face bathed in the morning sunlight. Soon however clouds were in evidence.

Matthew went to speak to some Malawians nearby who were working for the forestry department. Eerik set up his hammock to read. With Ruth I followed Matt and soon we agreed to pay someone to guide us to the pools.

Take the right fork within sight of France's Cottage on the main track

Soon we were all (except Eerik) off to the pools. Eerik had by now returned to the inside of France’s Cottage and next to the fire as a kind of retreat in the face of the advancing clouds. He was reading my borrowed ‘Europe Since Napolean’. For some reason, despite the weather, I took my swimming stuff. Chambe’s current bleakness matched the weather and there was a certain mysterious, misty beauty to the place.

The turn off to the left is about 30 mins walk from the cottage on a track that looks like this

After about thirty or forty minutes of walking I took a photo at the turn off from the main track (from France’s Cottage and Chambe Cottage) where we head left for the pools. Straight on would take us to the edge of the plateau and down the Skyline or Chambe Path. The path to the left was actually the top of the Chapaluka Path, an alternative route down to Likhubula below.

Cross the stream on this path and head on

Turn left here for the final approach to the pools

Soon after our first crossing of the Chapaluka Stream we found the pools and waterfalls on our left and the guide departed.

Just downstream from the pool

Family Photo

Matthew was for swimming. I was thinking of it but uncommitted. All I’d decided was not to touch the water before going in as that might put me off. What I did do was get changed and scout around the pool for the best way out so that I could strategically place my emergency towel. For some reason nothing was going to stop me going in to this mountain pool on a cold ‘winter’s’ morning. Perhaps it was because it was Mulanje and Mulanje has that kind off effect.

Really daddy?! OK, we are your fan club, we are right behind you.

In and then straight to the exit

Actually, it is not that bad.

Matthew and I jumped in and I immediately swam to the edge for my towel. However, on getting to the side I realised that the experience was not nearly as bad as I had expected and I was soon announcing my second swim. Actually, it felt great. No worse, I thought, than swimming in the sea off the Scottish coast. On the plus side it was physically exhilarating, an experience most probably enhanced by the walking on the previous days and that morning. David had said that he would consider swimming if the sun came out but I knew that swimming on a foggy and murky day actually feels better.

We returned to find Eerik next to the fire and still reading about the history of Europe.

The wanderers return. Matt is still wearing a towel.

Eerik enjoys Mulanje in a different way

Perhaps that day we could also have climbed on the Chambe bumps. But it was too cloudy and we did not bother. Our final full day on Mulanje Mountain was coming to a close.

Just before sunset the clouds cleared for some nice views.

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