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A massif awakening

Mount Mulanje is Malawi’s other natural wonder, often bypassed in favour of the country’s celebrated lake. Hiking sceptic Aaron Gekoski steps out of his comfort zone and sets out for the summit

Hiking. Being at one with nature. Getting a rollicking good workout, while taking in lungfuls of crisp, unpolluted air. Freeing oneself, however temporarily, from the trappings of consumerism. It’s easy to see the allure. Yet despite this, I’ve always had a natural aversion to all things uphill. The unflattering crinkly material, fusty sleeping bags, compasses I can barely read and fires I can hardly start. Besides, why bother when we can live vicariously through alpha males such as Bear Grylls or Ray Mcars? Far easier on the legs, too. I am, however, an excellent armchair hiker.

So when I received a filming assignment for a Malawian tour operator and found a mountain on the itinerary, I was somewhat perturbed. A period of Googling ensued. This ‘Mulanje’ appeared a somewhat formidable beast, which represented a dilemma: how to scale a 3000m monster without actually climbing it? If we can jettison a man to the moon, surely an escalator to the top, or at least some kind of elaborate pulley system, wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility?

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Botswana's secret zebra migration • Insider's tips on Cape Town • Madagascar for families • 10 Reasons to visit Mozambique • Wild Zambia • Conquering Mulanje • Sudan uncovered... and much more!
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