Michiru Mountain Conservation Area
Michiru Mountain Conservation Area is often referred to as Michiru Nature Sanctuary, the closest conservation area to Blantyre, 8km northwest of the city centre.
It was established in 1975 and is managed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
The area is the only remaining mountain around Blantyre that still has indigenous forest and some wildlife after Ndirande and Soche were devastated in the 1990s and 2000s respectively.
Michiru Mountain also faces enormous pressure from local people needing firewood, but it still protects a variety of habitats including plantation forest, indigenous woodland, and open grassland.
The area is dominated by Brachystegia (Miombo) woodland vegetation.
In addition, various species of grasses, orchids, shrubs, herbs, ferns, mosses, mushrooms etc. do occur seasonally.
Michiru Peak is located 5km from the office, with an altitude of 1470m.
It offers nice views of Zomba Mountain to the east and the Shire Valley across to the Kirk Range in the west, as well as Thyolo Tea Estates, parts of Mulanje Mountain and Blantyre City on a clear day.
Facilities include a basic campsite and three well-defined walking trails of between 2km and 5km in length.
It is permitted to walk in the reserve at night, when a variety of nocturnal animals may be seen.
Naturally occurring wildlife includes spotted hyena, leopard, bushbuck, bush pig, common duiker, klipspringer, grysbok, honey badger, jackal, genet, baboon, blue and vervet monkey, rock dassies, porcupine, mongoose, civet, squirrel, mole rat and other smaller mammals.
Over 200 species have been identified including hammerkop, guinea fowl, francolin, weaver, nightjar, waxbill, bulbul, lourie, woodpecker, dove, owl, sunbird, starling, firefinch and many more.
Getting there and away
The Sanctuary is approximately 8km northwest of Blantyre City and 6km southwest of Chileka Airport.
To get to Michiru, follow Glyn Johns Road west from the Mount Soche Hotel for roughly 200m, then turn right into Kabula Hill Road and then left into Michiru Avenue.
About 2km along Michiru Avenue, the tarmac ends; a further 6km along the road you come to a turn-off where a green stone reads ‘Michiru Conservation Area’.
Ignore this and the next two turn-offs, and turn into the road marked ‘Car Park and Nature Trails’.
If you don’t have private transport, you could catch a taxi to the entrance gate, and then walk or hitch back to town.
Alternatively, you can camp in the reserve.