Zimbabwe, April & May 2012 - Eastern Highlands

We spent 12 days in 3 different areas of the Eastern Highlands and were lucky enough to have excellent weather every day.

1. Nyanga National Park.

This is the northernmost area of the Eastern Highlands and is likened to the Scottish Highlands. It has Zimbabwe's highest point, Mount Nyangami at .... We stopped at the campsite near Rhodes Dam Lodge and, thankfully, were well supplied with firewood as the campsite is is a hollow and as soon as the sun went down it became very cold and after clear nights there was a heavy frost in the morning.

Mount Nyangami.

The first day we drove around the circular route in the Park stopping at a few places on the way.

We stopped at a reconstructed Pit Structure. The animals were herded into the pit at night along a tunnel which was under one of the houses and poles were then lowered through a hole in the floor to keep the animals in.

Our second stop was at Nyangwe Fort, a dry stone wall structure on the top of a hill (one of several in the area).  It was quite overgrown but we managed to clamber onto the walls (now only a couple of metres high) and have a walk around. 

Mare Dam looked lovely in the morning sunshine.

We saw a sign for a trout farm and were delighted to find that it was open. One of the guys showed us around and then caught a couple of trout for us ($10 for the two) and cleaned and gutted them for us.

Catching the trout.

They were delicious cooked on the braai.

This crested eagle was on top of one of the young conifers at our campsite.

On our second day we walked up Mount Nyangami which took us 1 1/2 hours and wasn't too strenuous - just as well as we're out of practice mountain walking!

We had some superb views over the Nyanga National Park from the ridge we walked along.

The next day we had a drive out to the southern area of the Park. This a viewpoint over the Pungwe valley.

2. Vumba Mountains.

We stayed at the campsite in the Vumba Botanic Gardens. After years of neglect they are gradually being restored but there are only half a dozen people there so progress is slow.

There are lots of tree ferns in the gardens.

The Lake was the first area to be restored.

The campsite is on the edge of the plateau and each morning we had a wonderful sunrise over the Mozambique lowlands below us. There was usually cloud or mist over the lowlands with some hills sticking up.

One day we drove around the mountain along roads ranging from narrow sandy tracks to good tar. In the Burma Valley it was nice to see farms still producing coffee, bananas, citrus fruits and mealies.

We visited Leopard's Rock Hotel which has an international standard golf course. It's certainly in a stunning location. We went for a walk around part of the course.

There were a lot of flowering aloes around the gardens and several different types of sunbirds to be seen around them.

We saw shy samango monkeys at the campsite every day but, unlike vervets and baboons, they would disappear as soon as they saw us.

We walked to the top of Leopard's Rock and had a great view over the surrounding countryside.

3. Chimanimani National Park

Chimanimani is in the south of the Eastern Highlands and the most remote to get to. As at the other campsites we were the only people there.

Approaching the Chimanimani mountains.

We took advantage of the lovely weather and followed the path which led to the top of the plateau and a mountain hut - it took us 2 1//2 hours to get there.

The path zig zags through these rocks to the top of the plateau.

Kevin (bottom left of the photo) trying to follow the path through the rocks.

We could see for miles from the top..

As we approached the hut we could see smoke drifting across the sky and could soon hear the flames.

Luckily we were able to get across the fire line quite easily

The grass and trees were still smouldering but the hut had escaped the fire.

However down in the valley below the hut the fire was still raging.

Ideally you need to be able to take food and bedding for a few days and stay at the hut (or there are some caves to camp in) as there are several walks from the hut.

At the campsite lots of the Msasa trees had tiny orchids growing on the branches.

1. Kuimba Shiri Bird Park.

2. Zim 4x4 trip. Mana Pools, Chewore, Mkanga and Mavuradonha.

3. The Eastern Highlands - Nyanga National Park, Vumba and Chimanimani National Park.

4. Gonarezhou National Park.

5 Great Zimbabwe and Lake Mutirikwi.

6. Lake Kariba sailing regatta.

Diary (Word '97 document).

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