Photo of the Month: December 2019

Vumba Botanical reserve

The Vumba Mountain range lies southeast of the town of Mutare and is one of the highlights of Southern Africa that are relatively less visited. There is great diversity in birdlife and the flora as well as butterflies that the variety of flowers attract.

The drive to Vumba is very scenic, climbing steeply to 1585 m above sea level. The Vumba Botanical Gardens are 32 km from Mutare. Their area is 184 hectare and were established on what was called Manchester Farm in 1917 by a retired miner called Edger Evans.Fredrick John Taylor, a former mayor of Mutare (then Umtali) took over the gardens in 1923 and worked on the gardens in his retirement. The public started visiting the gardens in 1940 and they were declared a national park in 1958.

There is a small lake that was formed by perennial streams in the middle of the gardens. The landscaping was done around this lake and the gardens form a well-wooded reserve.There are a number of species like fern, proteas, azaleas, begonias, hydrangeas, aloes, lillies, cycads, fuchsias amongst others. Correspondingly, there is plenty of birdlife and the presence of Samango monkeys that are endemic to the Eastern Highlands. There is provision for camping inside the reserve. 

The most popular hotel in the Vumba mountains is the Leopard Rock Hotel. Described by the Queen Mother as ‘the most beautiful place in Africa’ when she visited with her daughter in 1953, the hotel is a must-visit for one of the most beautiful golf landscapes in the country and possibly throughout the world. It has played host to an array of film and sports personalities. It endears to the ordinary tourist who wants spectacular views of the highlands, finest 18-hole golf grounds in Southern Africa with a breathtaking view over the Burma valley, excellent facilities and tasty local and international cuisine with fresh produce from their own gardens.

The rooms are of a French Chateaux style most with views of the Burma valley and of the Mozambican mountains. There are some interesting hikes that can be taken in the mountains. Castle Beacon is one climb up a large granite dome and starts at Vumba Heights or Lion’s Rock.Another one starts at Kwayedza Lodge and goes up to the peak of Tapi-Tapi. A nice climb starts near Leopard Rock Hotel on Chinakwaremba. Vumba Mountain is a steep hike on the Mozambican side with good views of the surroundings. 

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