In the second of a series of blogs about their trip, Amanda describes the journey up to Mzuzu, the capital of Malawi’s Northern Region.
On Wednesday we left Lilongwe to make our way up to Mzuzu, a drive of 5 hours towards the Northern mountainous region of Malawi. As it was my first trip, I got the privilege of sitting in front, allowing me to get a better view of the stunning scenery and changing landscapes. Project manager John Mulageni was driving, with Caanan Gondwe, chairperson of COMSIP, the Malawian savings and investment promotion credit union, joining us on the journey too.
The landscape around Lilongwe started off flat and very dry, with small trees dotted about between people’s fields. Along the road there were many small villages, some of which had busy markets next to the road selling tomatoes, sweet potato and onions. As we left the central region of Malawi, the scenery changed to become much more hilly and covered in forest.
At the edges of this forest we began to see huge granite outcrops in the distance, enormous yet very soft and undulating. John told us that the huge rock formations were known as ‘the elephant’ and it did indeed look like the rough outline of a slumbering elephant. The weather also began to change the further we got from Lilongwe, more overcast and with a fresher feel to the air.
This much more temperate climate is suited to coffee production and home to the famous Mzuzu Coffee Producers Union. Mzuzu itself is a very peaceful town nestled in the hills, with low bungalow-style buildings surrounded by trees and smallholder plots and gardens.We had a trip to the Mzuzu Coffee Den to buy some coffee beans, before driving up to the Mzuzu Coffee Suites, a lodge-style compound with rooms to stay in. Both of these businesses are a good example of how the co-operative union is diversifying its business to increase incomes for its members. Some of the board members from a variety of coffee unions were also staying at the Coffee Suites, and fuelled up on delicious Mzuzu coffee, we embarked on the next focus group.
Look out for more updates on Sarah and Amanda’s trip coming soon! We need your support to allow us to continue our life changing work, both here in Malawi and across the world. See how you can help us do more here.