Experience It: Chimanimani National Park: Rugged Peaks & Sparkling Pools

Photo Credit: Brian Gratwicke

Experience It: Chimanimani National Park: Rugged Peaks & Sparkling Pools

Chimanimani National Park offers some of Zimbabwe’s most devastatingly beautiful mountain wilderness. It’s home to the majestic Chimanimani Mountains, Bridal Veil Falls, and even camping caves for the thrill seeker.

If you are looking for more adventure than just exploring the national park, you can visit Chimanimani Village or enjoy a swim in one of the natural pools. You won’t believe how much there is to see and do here!

We’ll talk you through this destination’s highlights and activities so you’ll be all set to plan your next Zimbabwe adventure!

Chimanimani National Park: One Part Of A Whole

Photo Credit: Ton Rulkens

This protected area is located in eastern Zimbabwe’s mountainous Manicaland. It was established in 1949 and originally covered approximately 32 square miles (82 sq km) of land.

The park now covers 66 square miles (171 sq km) and features a variety of vegetation. Visitors are pleasantly surprised by the eclectic mix of grassland, forests, woodland, rural farmland, and intriguing quartzite ridges.

Interestingly, the region is only one part of a border-crossing whole. This area, together with the Chimanimani Nature Reserve in Mozambique, forms the Chimanimani Transfrontier Park. An absolute winner for thrill-thirsty visitors who want nothing more than a multi-country vacation!

Chimanimani Village

Photo Credit: Ralf Ellerich

This gateway to the park is a small town that’s worth exploring. There are some beautiful places to visit and you’ll encounter plenty of people from all walks of life. A colourful and eye-opening experience.

The village is a great place to stock up on food, water, and essentials before you head into the park. The mountains overshadow this beautiful village, creating a picturesque scene in a breath-taking setting

Chimanimani Mountains: Hikers’ Paradise

Photo Credit: Ton Rulkens

The Chimanimani mountains are the perfect match for peak-hungry hikers. This ancient mountain range lies on the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It provides for some spectacular views from its jagged peaks.

The mountains are incredibly scenic with peaks ranging from 1969 feet (600 m) at the southern end to approximately 1.5 miles (2 400m) high. The tallest crest belongs to the glorious Mount Binga.

This mountain is the highest in Mozambique and the second-highest in Zimbabwe. A real challenge for the avid hiker!

Chimanimani Trails & Walks

If you’re planning on grabbing a hiking pack and climbing the peaks, aim to visit around September. It’s warm enough that you won’t need a very thick sleeping bag. And, you’ll miss the wet season’s rains.

We suggest heading to Mawenje Mountain and checking out the curiously shaped granite rock formations. You might also see rare mountain and forest flora, like the Angraecum chimanimaniense.

Those who seek less challenging hiking routes can take the trails located in the northern part of the national park. From Corner Camp, you can find easier trails and still see great sights like the Muhohwa River and Muhohwa Falls.

New hikers can also take the path up the Banana Grove. It’s a really enjoyable walk, lined with sheer cliffs on either side. If you listen carefully, you might hear the baboons barking at you from above. A subtle reminder that they’re keeping an eye on you. 

Chimanimani Base Camp

One of the best places to start your hiking adventure is Base Camp. It’s approximately 12 miles (19 kilometres) from Chimanimani Village.

At Base Camp, you’ll find friendly game scouts who will happily advise you on the best hiking routes to take. This camp also features an information office, ablution facilities, and offers a place to spend the night.

If you love the idea of staying a night at the foot of the mountains, here’s your chance. But, bear in mind you will need to pay a fee. If you want to keep costs down, note that camping anywhere in the park is free of charge (excluding normal entrance fees).

From Base Camp, the guided hikes up the mountains are quite strenuous so we suggest that beginner hikers give these ones a skip. If you like a challenge, then you can travel further than the average day-tripper and stay for multiple days. That way, you’ll get to see all the park’s highlights.

Grab a few things from Base Camp and head out with your camping and food supplies. Every ridge, stream, and valley offers new scenery and vistas. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Chimanimani National Park: Activities & Attractions

The park is a great place to get away from it all. Here are some of the activities and attractions that await you.

Photo Credit: John

Picture a gorgeous picnic site nestled at the bottom of rugged cliffs. Time stands still as you soak up the sounds of the birds. You marvel at the sight of a beautiful veil of water streaming down the rocks.

Bridal Veil Falls trickles down into a crystal clear natural pool. Watch as the water cascades through rare species of ferns and plants. A beautiful place to dip your feet and reflect on nature’s beauty.

Camping Caves & Exploration

You’ll have the opportunity to explore caves that were once home to early settlers. These people left their mark in the form of cave paintings, carvings, and rock formations.

For a real Africa-style outdoors experience, you can camp overnight in one of the caves. Terry’s Cave or Peter’s House Cave (disused mine shafts) serve as campsites in the park. Nothing beats gathering around a fireplace under the stars while cooking your dinner on a gas grill!

Nearby Peter’s House Cave, you’ll also find another sort of thrill. There’s a natural cliff jump from the Peterhouse Falls. A great place to get an airborne action shot of yourself by the waterfall!

 

Eland Sanctuary

The Eland Sanctuary is a real treat for wilderness enthusiasts. In this sanctuary, development has been limited, meaning the wild landscapes remain almost untouched.

It’s nature at its most spectacular, with magnificent forests as far as the eye can see. Visitors will see many different species of animal roaming free. The sanctuary’s wildlife includes (you guessed it) eland, sable, bushbuck, blue duiker, and even Leopard!

Mountain Hut

This Mountain Hut serves as a refuge for the weary hiker after a long day of hiking. It’s the perfect rustic base for exploring the mountains.

This hut offers ablution and cooking facilities for up to 20 visitors; great for a large hiking party. There’s also a bubbling spring nearby that is famous for its supposed healing properties.

Suffer from any long standing aches and pains? Make sure you check out the spring to see if the legend is true!

 

Tessa’s Pool

Photo Credit: Brian Gratwicke

A visit to the mountain range would not be complete without a trip to at least one of the natural sparkling pools. At some point, you have to take the plunge!

Tessa’s Pool is a major highlight. It’s a great place to swim, spot a rainbow in the spray of waterfalls, and see San rock art. This pool is a special place where you can rediscover yourself against the peaceful backdrop of nature.

 

Visit the Chimanimani National Park!

Photo Credit: Jürgen Kehrberger

For a trip that will restore your peace of mind and reinvigorate your spirit, there’s nothing better than Chimanimani. A gem of Africa, you’ll be spellbound by the park’s forest, river, streams, waterfalls, pools, and unique rock formations.

If you love the idea of exploring Africa by foot or seek to summit peaks measuring thousands of metres high, choose Chimanimani as your next travel destination!

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