Mafinga Hills from near the town of Chisenga in Malawi
|Country|| Zambia |
|Highest point||Mafinga Central|
|- elevation||2,339 m (7,674 ft)|
|Geology||Quartzite, phyllite and feldspar|
The Mafinga Hills are a plateau covered by hills, situated on the border between Zambia and Malawi, in Southern Africa. These hills are composed of quartzites, phyllites and feldspathic sandstones of sedimentary origin.
This plateau has the highest point in Zambia,2,339-metre (7,674 ft) Mafinga Central. It once formed a formidable barrier between the Northern and Eastern Provinces that few but the best 4-wheel drive vehicles dared to cross, especially during the rainy season. The shortest road link between the two provinces is now eased by the rehabilitation of the Isoka-Muyombe Road, which traverses their lower slopes. As Muyombe is the district capital of the newly formed Mafinga District, any expedition to the Mafinga Hills would be wise to use Muyombe as a starting point (two guesthouses are available). Besides going through Isoka, Muyombe can also be accessed from the south via Chama, though this road passes briefly through Western Malawi's Vwasa Wildlife Reserve, or from the East via the Malawian town of Bolero on route S104. As there are no fueling stations near Muyombe, except for in Lundazi, Nakonde, or Rhumpi (Malawi), it is advisable that at least one vehicle's full tank of fuel be carried in jerrycans from one of these fueling stations into the Mafinga Hills. Note that the roads into the Mafinga Hills are passable in the dry season even in small vehicles, though needing high clearance and speeding along at 20-30 kph, but probably impassable in the rainy season even with a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
To hike in the Mafinga Hills, it is appropriate to visit the local chief to inform him of the expedition's intentions and possibly request a guide. This is especially important as there is no formal tourism company set up in the area to take hikers into the mountains and informing the chief of your plans can assist in ensuring safety and that you have received proper information. Without the tourism company, there are no formal guides but the local chief or other headmen could recommend hunters or farmers in the area you wish to explore who know the area well to go with you. Be prepared to offer a gift of food to the chief (such as a bag of rice, flour, or sugar) and to provide food, shelter, and monetary compensation to any guide going with you. There are no designated trails in the hills so all hiking will be bushwhacking. The terrain is rocky with tuffs of grass that make it challenging to walk without twisting an ankle. There are no dangerous animals in the mountains, and seemingly too cold for snakes to inhabit. There are scattered springs in the mountains and the sources for a few different rivers meander through the valleys of the mountains that can be used as sources of water.
The Luangwa River, the major river of eastern Zambia, has its source in the Mafinga Hills.
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- Mafinga Hills (Hills, Malawi/Zambia), Britannica Online Encyclopedia, accessed on April 26, 2009.
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- Zambia High Point, Zambia/Malawi, Peakbagger.com.