Meet Eston, the guide of the forest
When you’re almost at Ntchisi Forest Lodge, you will pass Eston’s house. He owns an impressive number of trees that he planted himself, years ago. From his house, you overlook the beautiful valley and the mountainous start of the rainforest. Eston, 73 years, is a remarkable man. Having boyish twinkles in his eyes and looking very fit, you would never guess his age. He loves this area where he was born. His father, working at the forestry department, used to take him as a young boy on long walks through the forest to visit the other side of the mountain, where his grandpa lived. Only ten years ago, Eston started as a guide, walking with people through the rainforest. He knows the forest as it was his backyard and starts to smile when he speaks about it..
The start of his career though could not have been more different. After secondary school, he worked for a few years as a government officer, valuing buildings and inspecting plots. Then he started a scholarship on watchmaking in South Africa. Eston had a dream of establishing a Malawian watchmaking center. When it turned out to be too difficult, he was employed as a watch repair. During holidays, he used to go back to Mpamila area where his father used to work for the forestry department. Already in the seventies, Ntchisi Forest Lodge as we know it now was used as a government resthouse. Tourists were rare. Wherever you would look, you would see trees. The rainforest was much bigger as it is nowadays. Eston recalls: ‘although many places have changed now, by chopping trees years ago and by climate change, this place has not been affected in a bad way at all. We can still enjoy nature at its purest. People around are very friendly, guests will feel at home.’
Guests can still request walks with Eston through the rainforest, during the day but also at night, during full moon. Since he started as a guide, ten years ago, Eston identified viewpoints, beautiful paths, historical places of interest. The map that guests can still use on their walks was based on Eston’s findings. Plans are underway to extend the current trails to hidden gems in the forest, like waterfalls. For Eston, ‘the mountain’, as he calls the rainforest, has everything. Cool air, water, food, and beautiful viewpoints and trails.