The Eastern Highlands never fail to surprise visitors. Great landscapes, magnificent views, historical sites, walking trails, birding, golf, horse riding, fishing…
There are many things which make this vast area highly attractive: it is accessible, it is friendly and its people have a great sense of humour.
Bring your camera: the landscapes have got all the colours of the rainbow. That is one of the many reasons why our visitors keep on coming back.
The eastern Highlands have 3 area’s interesting to visitors. Nyanga in the north, Vumba in the central part of the Eastern Highlands and Chimanimani in the south.
Many of the tours we offer visit these special areas. Below more information on places to visit.
Nyanga is known for its spectacular views with wonderful names: Worlds View, Honde View, Pungwe View and Mutarazi View. In Nyanga National Parks there is Mount Inyangani: the highest mountain in Zimbabwe, with a fairly easy climb, except when it rains.
History left its marks in the whole area. There are remnants of early settlers: forts, the so-called pit structures, all quite well documented in the Ziwa museum. Near Rhodes Nyanga Hotel there is a museum, telling the stories of Cecil Rhodes who left part of his legacy in Nyanga.
Main roads are excellent, but access to Nyanga National parks requires a 4 x 4, or a car with high clearance.
Go have tea and scones at Troutbeck resort, and warm yourself at the cosy fireplace, or something more challenging: try trout fishing in the crystal waters.
Officially not part of the Highlands, since it is a low-lying valley, this place is simply amazing because of its fertile soil. People never go hungry here. Aberfoyle Country Club is at the end of the road, near the famous tea estates. The club house was refurbished in 2012 and 2013. It is a great place to stay. Try some golf as well, just to experience the loosing of a ball in tea shrubs.
But before doing so, stop at a road side shop, buy a coke and chat with people. You will then understand why people keep on coming back to Zimbabwe.
Another place where you will love your camera! Have a sandwich on the veranda of Mont Clair Hotel and be humbled by the ever changing colours of the mountains in front of you. Even poets cannot describe what they see. Your camera can.
The scenery seems to radiate silence and immense calmness; you will forget there is a noisy world some hours away. Some say that a stay at Juliasdale is better than Yoga.
There are plenty of walking trails in this neighbourhood. If you are a hiking lover then the multiple day trips offered by Far & Wide are a must.
In the early 90’s Bernie and Judy Cragg started to develop their outdoor activity and educational centre Far and Wide. It is based in the Mtarazi Falls National Park. They provide very comfortable self-catering lodges from where one can do excellent walks, including the famous multiple day Turaco Trail which ends at Aberfoyle Lodge.
Also shorter 1-day trails are available:
- The trail to the Mutarazi Falls takes participants from FAR and WIDE along the Mutarazi escarpment via the Honde View point, one of Zimbabwe’s most wonderful look outs with views down into the Honde Valley and on into Mozambique, through mountain forest and to the Falls themselves. The walk is of medium difficulty and takes about three to four hours.
- The Chirokorokoto trails is part of the Turaco Trail, an iconic hiking trail in Zimbabwe. This section of the trail is of medium difficulty and takes about five to six hours. It sees participants start out from FAR and WIDE and walk through wild primary mountain forest, mountain grassland, valleys and mountain ridges to the summit of Chikorokoto and back to FAR and WIDE. The summit ridge provides exquisite views of the Pungwe Gorge and Mt Inyangani, Zimbabwe’s highest mountain.
Accommodation: well-equipped self-catering lodges, there are options to book meals in advance.
Guiding: Far and Wide offers qualified guides, highly recommended. Experienced hikers can go around by themselves using detailed maps and GPS.
Mutare, close to the border crossing into Mozambique is an attractive small town, with stunning views. It is very rare that visitors stay overnight, unless they are on business. The museum is quite charming, with a mix of displays on local history. Mutare has its own small wildlife area, Cecil Kopje Nature Reserve, but currently it is in a shoddy state. Lovers of history should visit the Utopia House Museum. For those who like markets go to the green market, on the way out to Birchenough Bridge. Hundreds of people make a living out here, making furniture, crafts, coffins etc. You will start to appreciate how hard Zimbabweans work to achieve their goals. And surely, they will appreciate you seeing them how they do it.
The Vumba (or Bvumba) area will surprise you. Cottages and guesthouses are dotted all over the place, with plenty of typical panoramic views. A paradise for bird lovers from all over the world. Take a stroll in the botanical garden: if you love trees and plants you will be fascinated. The golf course at Leopard Rock is unique in the world. Of course you should have coffee in the most famous coffee shop of Southern Africa: Tony’s Shoppe where you do not merely consume coffee and cake, you are partaking in an event!
The Vumba mountains is another walker’s paradise, with plenty of trails, which unfortunately are not signposted, and on your own you easily can get lost in the Misty Mountains. Recently, the Friends of the Vumba with National parks have started an initiative to make the trails more accessible. Bird walks are offered by Seldom Seem, with the famous guide Peter. For simple walks enquire at the place where you stay, our choices: Leopard Rock Golf Resort, Inn on the Vumba, White Horse Inn, Seldom Seen (self-catering), it is a small world (self-catering), but there are many others.
Musangano Lodge – Odzi area
Another great place for walkers and birders.
Enjoy the marked walking trails, ranging from a leisurely one hour afternoon stroll through the woodlands, to a more demanding three hour trek up the surrounding hills and through the local Aloe Route. The area is rich in indigenous tree species and also has an abundant birdlife, perfect for those interested in bird watching. No guide is needed. Musangano offers more: visit to local communities and to a commercial farm.
La Rochelle – Penhalonga (Mutare)
For those who like easy strolls, La Rochelle is the place to go to. Recently reopened it offers a unique classical atmosphere. Spend a quiet morning exploring the endless trails, which traverse the arboretum and beautiful gardens, or visit the nurseries where Sir Stephen’s Orchid collection continues to expand. No guide is needed.
A paradise for hikers! You can do overnight trips starting at Base Camp, or day trips. Facilities are minimal, but that is part of the adventure. To access you need a 4 x 4 or a good pickup truck. The views are different than those in Nyanga and Vumba. This is raw nature. Nothing rolls here, things peak right up to heaven so it seems. A hidden gem is The Corner, ask the locals how to get there, it is on the access road to the Cashew valley road. Haroni and Rusitu Forest reserves are worth visiting as well, especially for birders.
We love Chimanimani, its skies, its peaks, its trails and its independent people.
You can do an unguided walk (3 hours) through Indigenous Msasa woodland down to the magnificent Bridal Veil Falls. This is an easy walk unless you choose to climb to the very top of the Falls, which needs an hour extra.
Alternatively you can do a light stroll into the small centre of Chimanimani, bustling with people doing their thing, with in the background the ever present peaks of the mountains.
The most well-known walk is the guided or unguided walk from Base Camp to the Hut: first a 40 minute drive to the base of a massive mountain, from there, using sparsely marked trails, you go up, mostly through steep riverbeds, sometimes on all fours. It takes about 2 to 2.5 hours, to reach the top. The views are breath taking, and it is worthwhile all the efforts. The descent down takes also 2 to 2.5 hours. It is a heavy challenging walk.
When you are keen to get a taste of the quartzite mountain, you can drive to Outward Bound (about 30 minutes) with a packed lunch. From there you are guided to the Mangowe waterfalls. This is 3 hour walk, moderately strenuous. At the end of that walk you can take a cool dip in Tessa’s Pool and see the San paintings, before returning to the village.
We also designed a guided walk where you will meet local people, the Greenmont walk.
Along the ridge from above the Hotel, going west, you come down through Ngangu township and to the golf course, meeting with the proud, independent and welcoming Matsetso people and walking up through their village.
Accommodation: our most preferred choice is Frog and Fern, a well-equipped self-catering cottage which has a great atmosphere and great hosts Jane and Dee. They work with local communities and is they who designed the Greenmont walk with local guides.
Chipinge – Mount Selinda
Chipinge lost most of its beauty during the turmoil of the last decade. A sad story, but those who seek the truth should visit it. In that case make sure you drive up to Mt Selinda and visit Chirinda Forest Reserve. There is a self-catering lodge right in the centre of this tropical forest. If you have lots of imagination you better don’t stay there: these huge trees block sunlight, it is damp and misty. If ghosts exist they will certainly feel at home there. Magical Chirinda.