By Tinashe Mukono
Many people travel to see creation in all its unpolluted glory in some of the greenest places on this planet, far from the madding crowd and hustle and bustle of city life. Some do it in their search for nivarna, that inner peace that has deserted many souls whilst some do it to experience new environments.
Zimbabwe’s answer to anyone looking for the full natural experience is the town of Nyanga located in the Eastern Highlands. Engulfed by the picturesque Nyangani Mountains, this resort town boasts of some of the most scenic views in Zimbabwe.
Nyanga is a popular travel destination for domestic and international visitors, headlined by the Nyanga National Park which is home to Mount Nyangani. The town offer various holiday and adventure activities throughout the year.
Africa’s second highest waterfall, Mutarazi Falls, is part of Nyangani National Park. All photos by Far and Wide.
There are various accommodation options available in Nyanga all year round with country homes, chalets and renowned hotels such as the Montclair Hotel & Casino, Pine Tree Inn, Rhodes Nyanga Hotel and The Village Inn, whose doors have remained open for guests even during the lockdown.
“This year has been a difficult one for everyone and especially in the tourism sector but we have been glad of the support from our patrons and we are still welcoming guests at our place during this partial lockdown for their peace of mind and an unforgettable experience here,” said Brian Bongwe of The Village Inn.
The most popular accommodation draw to Nyanga is the Troutbeck Resort which is famous for its golf course, walking trails and inviting lake which is also a prime fishing spot for trout. Blessed with majestic views of the rustic surroundings in an elegant way, the hotel is ideal for events and conferences as well.
The hotel was built in 1947 and has an iconic log fire in its foyer which has never been put out since its opening as part of the hotel’s tradition. Events manager and caterer Nicole Dzapasi from the capital city Harare is one of the hotel’s regular patrons who visit every year.
“I make sure that every year I visit Nyanga for my annual dose of peace and reflection. I first came here for my honeymoon in 2002 and fell in love with the climate and vegetation. This year my husband and I are going to try the Zipline at Mutarazi and explore more of the area. We always make reservations for a chalet at Troutbeck Resort because we prefer self-contained accommodation on holiday,’’ she said.
Explore Nyanga National Park
Nyanga is a scenic and mountainous area that is famed as much for its cool temperatures and endless adventure activities such as game drives, bungee jumping, mountain climbing and fishing. The forests teem with species of flora and fauna contained within the 47000 hectare Nyanga National Park.
The national park is home to animals such as the eland, zebras, wildebeest and waterbuck among others. It is also the gateway to one of Zimbabwe’s best natural sights in the form of the World’s View vista which offers an expansive view of miles upon miles of the country from a vantage point.
The area also carries a rich cultural and political history of the country and has many sites which hold Stone and Iron Age artefacts and stone ruins such as forts and pathways around the terrain.
Tour activities and services are provided by many operators, with Far and Wide Zimbabwe being the most popular. They operate fishing camps and lodges within the Nyanga National Park with outdoor showers, communal dining areas and wooden sleeping cabins. Guests can indulge themselves in activities of choice from white water rafting, nature walks, river bugging and experience the Mutarazi Falls skywalk.
Mutarazi Falls Skywalk. Photo by Far and Wide.
As Africa’s second highest waterfall, Mutarazi Falls catches the eye at an astonishing 760m sheer drop and daredevils get their adrenaline kicks at the Mutarazi Skywalk and Zipline or an aerial tour of the area.
Experience the natural beauty of Nyanga Mountains
The tour of Nyanga can never be complete without a look at the famed Mount Nyangani; that formidable and irresistible adventure spot. Stories of mysterious disappearances and mythical sightings in and around the mountain are well documented. Residents from nearby Tangwena Village entertain visitors with legends around the mountain.
“Nyangani Mountain is a sacred place and the spirits of the ancestors guard the territory. If you see anything unusual up the mountain it’s best not to say anything otherwise you might vanish forever or if you’re lucky the elders might just fine you,” said Charleston who volunteers his services at Far and Wide as a tour guide and entertains visitors as a storyteller.
Each year adventure seekers make the daring trek up the hiking trails to the summit of the mountain and over the years debates still rage on whether the mountain is really mystical or there is a blend of fact and fiction. The jovial locals claim that the spirits of those dearly departed still jealously guard the area’s sacred places together with the traditional chiefs and wildlife authorities.
“We work together with the Ministry of Parks and Wildlife in preserving the natural beauty of the area and respecting the norms. For example, we do not advise visitors to go up the mountain wearing red clothing as it is against the accepted will of our elders and so we educate tourists, schools and visitors all about it as it is not just a myth,” said Nyanga traditional leader, Chief Saunyama.
A reckless word or unbecoming behaviour up the mountain rarely escapes the watchful eyes and ears of the traditional custodians and leaders who will not hesitate to fine the offender a goat at the local court. Should they fail to spot the mischief, an unforeseen power is said to account for momentary dizziness or hallucinations on the offenders, adding to the allure of the area.
These tales as well as the thrills of the area are part of what makes Nyanga a must visit destination whether for an adventure or just unwinding during the lockdown and beyond.