OverviewMount Namuli is the second highest mountain in Mozambique. It is also one of the most fun climbs.
Getting ThereClimbing Mt. Namuli
(Lonely Planet Mozambique – October 2000 – Mary Fitzpatrick with information provided by Richard and Jacqueline Dove in Gurúè) [Updated commentary will be provided in italics]
In addition, to its many good walks, Gurúè is also the starting point for climbing Mt. Namuli (2419m), Mozambique’s second-highest peak. The mountain, which is the source or partial source for several rivers, including the Licungo (Lugela) and the Malema, is considered sacred by the local Makua people. As travelers rarely hike up the mountain (due more to the fact that so few visitors come here, rather than to any technical difficulties posed by the climb), you should pay particular attention to respecting local customs and sensibilities (lets be honest, the people under the mountain are more concerned with getting out every last metical in your pocket then they are with saving cultural traditions). The surrounding area is a traditional Renamo stronghold, and during the war, the mountain was used by local communities as a refuge.
According to tradition, before setting out you should buy some sorghum flour (farinha de mapira) and some rice at the market in Gurúè. It should not cost much more than US$0.50 for everything (you can get all this at Mugunha Sede near the base of the mountain so its probably not worth carrying it in, but if you want to you can). The climb begins about 6km outside Gurúè near UP5(pronounced oo pay sinko), an old tea factory. To reach here head south from Gurúè along the Quelimane road. Go left after about 2km and continue several kilometers further to UP5. If you have a vehicle, you can drive to the factory and park there while you hike. With 4WD it is also possible during the dry season to drive further up the mountain’s slopes to Mugunha Sede, which is about 40km from Gurúè and the last village below the summit. If you have no vehicle, you will have to hike the 40km in from town. It’s a long way but a pretty hike. Don’t underestimate the distance though. You can get a guide at the hotels in town if you ask around. Be prepared to bargain hard. 700mtn is not uncommon for a 3 to 4 day trek.
Shortly before reaching UP5 you will see a narrow but obvious track branching to the left. Follow this as it winds up through neglected tea plantations and stands of Bamboo and forest until it ends in a high, almost alpine, valley about 800m below the summit of Mt. Namuli. The views en route are superb. On the edge of this valley is Mugunha Sede, where you should seek out the Chief (regulo) and request permission to climb the mountain (the regulo has died and his wife along with the local frelimo agent are running things now. They are far less concerned with the traditions and much more preoccupied with charging outrages sums of money to get up the mountain. 500mtn per person was the cheapest I have heard of recently. There may be a shake up because people in town are outraged at this turn of events). If you have come this far with your vehicle, you need to arrange to leave it here as the remaining stretch is passable only on foot. The sorghum flour which you purchased in Gurúè should be presented to the chief as a gift; he may save some to make traditional beer, and scatter the remainder on the ground to appease the ancestors who inhabit the area. The chief will then assign someone to accompany you to the top of the mountain, where another short ceremony may be performed for the ancestors. About two-thirds of the way along the route between Mugunha Sede and the summit is a spring where you can refill your water bottle, although it is considered a sacred spot and it may take some convincing to persuade your guide to show you where it is (our guides didn’t seem to have any problem showing us the spring, there is also a spring near the summit). Just after the spring, the climb becomes steeper, with some crumbling rock and places where you will need to use your hands to clamber up (this section is a little exposed but rather fun). Once near the summit, the path evens out and then gradually ascends for another 1.5km to the mountain’s highest point. The top of Namuli is often shrouded in clouds, so it is likely you will have better views during the climb than from the summit itself. After descending the mountain, present the rice that you bought at the Gurúè market to the chief as thanks (forget giving them any rice as thanks, they are ripping you off as much as possible so don’t encourage them).
It is possible to do the climb in a long day from Gurúè if you drive as far as Mugunha Sede (allow about four hours), from where it is approximately another three hours (5-6 hours is more realistic for the average person) on foot to the summit. The road to Mugunha Sede has been rehabilitated and is in rough but decent condition with the exception of some rickety bridges which are difficult to traverse. En route and about 20km outside Gurúè is a bridge which is not passable by vehicle (although a motorcycle can make it across). During the dry season you can negotiate this spot with a 4WD by going down through the river bed. There is no public transport on the mountian’s lower slopes.
If you want to try and walking from either Gurúè or the UP5 tea factory, you will need to set out early and come fully equipped to camp. The best camping spot is in the high valley near Mugunha Sede (You can also camp at the Regulos wifes hut complex, she swill cook for you if you provide the food and she get some of it). It is possible to pitch a tent in the level area near the summit just below Namuli’s Highest point, although you may have to scratch around for a bit of earth. If you do this, the closest water source is the spring mentioned earlier, about a one-hour walk from the top.
Red TapeThe faux traditions, haggling over prices and hiring of guides.Knowledge of Portuguese or the local language is really needed. You could get by without it but you'll probably get ripped off.
CampingCan be done just about anyware. People are very inviting and curious.
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