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Satemwa Tea was set up in the year 1923 and a factory to process the tea was set up right next to the estate. Over the years the Satemwa Tea estate has become one of the leading tea producers in the whole world. The beauty about the tea estate is that they also grow coffee and what better way to enjoy your trip to Malawi other than by heading out into the estate to explore how the tea and coffee in Malawi is grown and processed. The tea estate is located in the town of Thyolo in southern Malawi and considering the years that it has spent in Malawi, it is the oldest tea farm in the country covering a very big piece of land. The Tea estate is strategically located as it provides the perfect view of the Shire valley and the Mountain Mulanje.
The Satemwa tea estate being one of the oldest tea estates in the country has a variety of tea types that it grows and some of these include the Dark tea, the green tea, white tea and Oolong tea. And when it comes to coffee, there are only three types of coffee that can be found in Satemwa with the major one being the Arabica coffee. It has greatly contributed to the economy of the country since it offers many locals jobs and is also one of the leading exports in Malawi.
There are a lot of things to do in Satemwa but the main activity is definitely tea tasting not with the various tea types that are produced at the factory. After tasting the coffee, feel free to go for numerous walks across the forests as you admire the bird species that habitate within, take a guided tour through the coffee farms and get to learn more about the Arabica coffee that is grown near the tea farms, explore the nursery beds of both the tea and coffee farms, enjoy a relaxed evening at the Huntingdon house, go bike riding across the tea estate and climb up the Thyolo and Mulanje Mountain. The vegetation that is located in the area is also part of the tourist attractions around the Satemwa tea estate.
Explore the tea estate
The main activity that everyone wants to do when they visit the tea estate is to take a walk through the farm and the factory. While walking through the farm, you will be able to get to know how the tea is planted, help pick the ready tea leaves with the locals and learn how it is processed. There will be a tour guide who will take you through the farm while explaining everything and you might get a chance to purchase the processed tea at an affordable price.
The rich history that the tea estate has gone through all these years from the time it was set up by Maclean kay, a Scottish National is told while walking around the tea estate and the estate has been passed down through different generations until where it is today. You will feel like you are going back in time while exploring the tea estate because it still has the colonial rule touch but your visit will be worth it.
Go for the coffee tours
As earlier on noted, coffee is also grown on the estate making it easy for all coffee lovers to also get a feel of freshly brewed coffee in Satemwa. There are guided tours around the coffee farms where you get to see how coffee is grown, help with picking the coffee beans, sorting and later on enjoying a fresh cup of coffee while listening to the numerous stories that are told by the locals.
There are nursery beds of coffee that show you how coffee is grown and the mostly grown coffee on the estate is the Arabica coffee although there are other types that are grown. The beauty about taking the coffee tours at Satemwa is that you get to see the natural way that the beans are sorted that is the coffee beans are sorted by hand and also sun dried before being taken to the factory for the final processing.
Hiking up the Satemwa
Hiking up the tea estate is mostly done using a bike but it is mostly possible only if you want to see all the hidden corners of the tea and coffee estate. There are several tiny routes that are a bit rocky that you can use and bikes the bikes that you can use and with the help of a tour guide, you will enjoy the hilly nature that the estate has to offer and while at it, you can also hike up the Thyolo rock which is located at near the Mountain Thyolo.
Visit the Huntingdon house
The Huntingdon house is the house where the original founders of the Tea estate used to live and at the moment it acts as the nearest accommodation facility next to the tea estate. The Huntingdon house gives you a clear view of the estate and you get to go back in time as you rest from the old fashioned rooms that are found in the house. Stories will be told about the estate and the founders and this is one part of your trip that you do not want to miss while on a visit to the Satemwa estate.
After visiting and exploring the Satemwa tea estate, you can go around the Satemwa area and explore the surrounding areas which also have a lot to offer to tourists like the following:
Hiking up the Mulanje Mountain
You can cycle from the Satemwa tea estate to the Mulanje Mountain since it is not very far away from the Huntingdon house. The exploration of this wonderful mountain can be done by both cycling and normal hiking. There are about six different routes that tourists can use for hiking and these were clearly marked although you will still need the guidance of a tour guide to show you which routes to use and after the long hike, you can still cycle back to the tea estate for a good meal at the Huntingdon house and relax a the tea estate.
Cultural visits to the villages
There are many locals that live around the Satemwa tea estate and most of them work on either the coffee or tea farms. These have a unique culture that you would want to experience and the only way you can do this is by visiting the locals and interacting with them. Most of these locals are warm and welcoming to tourists and can give you all the information that you need and while here you can also enjoy shopping form the local shops where many locally made ornaments are sold and local food.
Visiting the locals in the various communities also gives you a chance to get to know more about the projects that are run by the locals with the aim of improving on their ell being that is the numerous schools that are constructed to improve on the education system in the area, health care in the community and many other projects some of which you can help with by making a small donation towards a good cause.
Birding in Satemwa
This might not be a top birding spot in Malawi but there are a few endemic birds that habitate within a forest that is just adjacent to the tea estate. Some of the endemic bird species include the endangered Thyolo Alethe, the green headed Oriole and the white winged Apalis which can be seen in their different habitats while you take a stroll through the forest.
Hiking up the Mountain Thyolo
Mountain Thyolo is one of the features that you get to enjoy on your visit to the Satemwa tea estate and what better way to enjoy a hike than climbing up these rocks. The exercise is not for the faint hearted but there are tour guides who will be around to help you on your climb up the Mountain. You will have a clear view of the Mountain Mulanje and tea estate and after that, you get to relax at the swimming pool that is found at the Huntingdon house.
A trip to the Satemwa tea estate is good for everyone even when you are travelling with your family. It is an extremely quiet place and for all those that want to get away from the busy city center to enjoy the cool breeze of the southern part of the Malawi highlands. It is an interesting place to visit while in Malawi and you will not regret it once you get to taste the wonderful tea and coffee and going back into time to see how the colonial times were. Therefore grab a bag and head out with your family to the Satemwa tea estate where you will enjoy part of what Malawi has to offer you.