Holidays to Chimanimani National Park, Zimbabwe
Hikers, rock-climbers and bird-watchers are all drawn to the rugged beauty of the Chimanimani mountains. Stretching for some 48 kilometres along Zimbabwe’s border with Mozambique, this unspoilt wilderness is a favourite destination for adventurous walkers and campers who love the feeling of being alone in a wild place. Its characteristic dry rock cliffs, tropical forests, crystal clear rivers, deep gorges and sparkling waterfalls provide a spectacular backdrop for all kinds of outdoor pursuits. And Chimanimani’s remote location on the very edge of the country gives it a magnificent aura of peace and natural balance.
There’s a real sense of occasion as you approach the mountains along the road that heads south from the border town of Mutare. At Mutekeswane base camp the road ends, the National Park begins, and the big adventure starts. Access from this point is only on foot, and it’s a good idea to talk to the duty ranger, who’ll advise you on the best path to take through the mountains. You might want to stay the night in the refuge hut over 1,600 metres above sea level. Or you might find a cosy cave or rock overhang where you can bed down for the night, thrillingly snug and protected against the elements.
As you explore the scenic, pristine landscapes of Chimanimani, keep a watchful eye out for the wild animals for whom these mountains are home. You might see an eland, a type of antelope commonly found in east and southern Africa. Or a sable, a klipspringer or even a leopard might come fleetingly into view.
And after an invigorating day’s walking among the spectacular scenery, you can cool down quickly in one of the many refreshingly cold streams and lakes. Check out the Peterhouse Falls, where the River Bundi cascades down into a deep pool – it’s a magical spot. Do you dare to plunge in from the famous Jumping Rock?
What sticks in most visitors’ minds is the sense of communion with nature out here in the untouched wilderness. The Chimanimani National Park is truly isolated, and development has been kept to an absolute minimum to preserve the integrity of this rugged land. If you’ve been to popular safari areas overrun by tourists, you’ll appreciate the calm, the peace and the quiet up here amid the granite, quartzite and mountain flora.
So, as you stop for a well-deserved picnic, maybe at the foot of the lovely Bridal Veil Falls, all you’re likely to hear is the sound of birds singing and water splashing over the rocks into the pool. And that just about sums up Chimanimani – a timeless, precious place where nature comes first, and always has.