Elevation: 4,838 ft
GPS: -13.5819, 33.9258
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Shared By: John Bradford on Jun 30, 2013 · Updates
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The entire country of Malawi is littered with world class granite that has seen relatively little development because most people don't know it is there. The climbing varies from big walls to steep crags to deep water soloing to huge boulder fields with everything imaginable in between. Some people have heard of Mulanje, where the biggest cliff in Africa is (West Face of Chambe 1600m), but few people realize that the entire country has huge granite domes and crags that look like they are straight out of Toulomne Meadows or the South Platte. The rock is extremely compact granite. The grains tend to be larger but it is generally not sharp and has similar friction and texture to the rock in Squamish, BC. The rock can be extremely featured, but there is plenty of friction climbing in areas that have been weathered by water. Due to the lack of temperate extremes, the rock does not fracture much so it lends itself to face climbing routes with bolts. There are cracks in spots but they tend to be over grown with vegetation. However, apparently some potential zones in the northern portion of the country were recently discovered that have clean splitters. Ask Tyler Algeo about these. Regardless, it is recommended to bring a drill and focusing on the clean faces if you want to establish new routes. The people in Malawi tend to be very friendly and it is known as "Warm Heart of Africa". The major language is chichwea but many people speak English. While you should feel safe in the country, even while in the cities, it would still be a good idea to use normal precautions while traveling within Malawi.

Getting There

Travel to Malawi is easy with two international airports: Blantyre and Lilongwe. Blantyre is the gateway to the Mulanje Massif and the southern portion of the country, while Lilongwe is the access point for central and northern Malawi. However, it is possible to fly into either airport then use public transportation or hire a private driver for low costs. You could rent a car but that is expensive here, especially by African standards. The roads are generally in very good condition, albeit a bit crowded especially with people on bikes. As you ride around the countryside of Malawi, and see 500+ foot domes and massive boulder fields everywhere, you'll begin to wonder why you have never heard of this place! The potential truly is unlimited!


There has been sporadic climbing development in Malawi since 1960s with a few periods of heightened development. Frank Eastwood and company established many traditional mountaineering type routes throughout Malawi during the 1970s. These routes usually followed crack systems, chinmeys, and lower angle slabs. Very few, if any bolts, are on these routes and most of them have not been repeated. Frank Eastwood published a guidebook to the Mulanje Massif that you can pick up on Amazon or other used book websites. There are a few other old guidebooks. While these books are helpful for information on different areas, most of the routes do not look very appealing. Mike Dalious, who operated an NGO in Zomba for several years developed several small crags in the area, and though he has departed, it is possible to find local expats who are familiar with the area. There are also small climbing pockets around Dedza, Zomba, and Ntcheu. Within the last few years, Malawi has seen a little more attention from climbers and the first modern, long, well protected routes have been established. Most of this attention has been focused on the Mulanje Massiff, but Tyler Algeo has established some sport crags near Lilongwe. Tyler has also started a bouldering gym in Lilongwe which is the first place in Malawi where climbers can congregate. Malawi has very few climbers relative to the amount of rock here and there is not much of a climbing community. Hopefully the bouldering gym and continuing to develop modern routes will change this. I hope to see Malawi grow into the well-known climbing destination that it deserves to be.

Climbing Season

Malawi has a sub-tropical climate, which is relatively dry and strongly seasonal. The warm-wet season stretches from November to April, during which 95% of the annual precipitation takes place. June, July and August are the coldest months with little to no rain. This is prime time. May and September can be good as well but might be a little hot.

Visas and Immigration

A passport and visa is needed to enter Malawi. You can buy a visa upon arrival to Malawi. A single entry visa costs $75 USD and valid for 90 days. You can pay with $USD or credit card.


The main language in Malawi is Chichwea but many people speak English. Most employees at restaurants, lodges, and bus services will speak some English at the minimum, but many people speak great English throughout the country. It is very easy to get around compared to other countries in Africa.

Hardware Recommendations

If you plan on installing any fixed hardware, everything must be 304 stainless steel at a minimum but 316 SS would be better. This includes quicklinks and rappel rings. The rainy season in Malawi is very intense. Plated steel hardware here corrodes extremely quickly. The amount of corrosion on plated hardware here after 1 year is comparable to what you would see after 20-30 years in semi-arid environments in the USA. It is also not uncommon for the first hanger to be stolen off routes. Glue-ins for the first bolt or two would address this issue.

Other Activities

Safari in Liwonde National Park or Majete Wildlife Reserve. Also, if you are further north in Malawi, I would recommend South Luangwa National Park in Eastern Zambia. I went and it was incredible!

Visit Lake Malawi. It is the fourth largest fresh water lake in the world and has more species of fish than any other lake in world. The lake is awesome for diving, kayaking, and swimming. There is also plenty of potential climbing and dws potential around the lake. Cape Maclear and Monkey Bay seem to be the most popular areas to go to.

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