With a history dating back to the 1890s, the Satemwa Tea Estate, which grows some of Malawi’s finest teas and coffees, is the location of elegant Huntingdon House. Originally built for the owners, today it is a 5-bedroom study in gracious living that attracts honeymooners, couples and the adventurous who are looking to explore the beautiful Shire Highlands. Guests stay in the owner’s original rooms, which have all the trappings of the past: high ceilings, antique furniture and paintings, 4-poster beds and views over the manicured lawns. There is also a self-contained cottage on the grounds for those who would like to experience typical farm living.
While the atmosphere may be peaceful, there is plenty of activity at Huntingdon House. Mountain bikers can use the estate’s eight bikes to tackle the dirt road and track, while hikers can don their boots and wend their way through 170km of paths – the fitter may want to take on nearby Mount Mulanje which, at 3 000m, is the third highest free-standing peak in Africa. Refuel en route with a picnic packed by Huntingdon staff. Birders will enjoy guided walks in search of the endangered Thyolo Alethe, while the lawns give themselves over to leisurely games of croquet and boules. At the neighbouring Thyolo Sports Club, built on land donated by Satemwa Tea Estate, you can take your pick of nine holes on the undulating greens, swimming or tennis.
The highlight at Huntingdon House is, of course, understanding the tea-making process from green bud to refreshing cuppa. Take a tour of the emerald-green fields before savouring high tea – with old-fashioned scones, cakes and sandwiches – on the cool, wide terrace or under the dappled shade of a decades-old tree in the garden.