Chimanimani National Park is situated along the eastern boundary of Chimanimani district (bordering Mozambique) in an area of rugged mountain grandeur, enhanced by many spectacular gorges and high peaks rising to 2436m.
There are several streams cascading through the mountain formations as well as numerous mountain springs.
Development in the park has been limited in order to preserve the natural, pristine beauty and wild landscapes of this mountainous area. Road conditions vary, 4 x 4 required in most areas, at the least a vehicle with high clearance.
Wildlife species found in this area include eland, sable, bushbuck, blue duiker, klipspringer and an occasional leopard.
Forest lovers will take a delight in the virgin forests of the area. The thick, moist, evergreen forest that is found here is rare. Several species of butterfly, birds, plants, snakes and shy cats are commonly seen.
There are no roads in this wild area and only footpaths and narrow tracks lead to the various places of interest. This adds to the fun of the wild and unspoilt character of the area.
Facilities & Attractions
The Mountain Hut Chimanimani Mountains
There is a hut at 1630m above sea level that is not furnished. This hut acts as a refuge and rest point. It may be used on a communal basis and cannot be used by an individual party exclusively. The ablution and cooking facilities are ideal for up to 20 visitors. However, daring visitors have the option of spending the night in either Terry’s or Peter’s caves (disused mine shafts).
Hikers to the summit are usually encouraged to take either of two routes. Experienced hikers will find The Bailly’s Folly a worthwhile challenge, while the aspiring hikers are best advised to take The Banana Grove.
Visitors are also allowed to camp free of charge anywhere within the park except at the Base Camp. However, it should be noted that such camping is at the visitors’ own risk.
The Base Camp
The Base Camp is available for limited numbers of visitors wishing to spend the night at the foot of the Mountains. There is a car park, an information office and ablution facilities at the base camp.
Visitors will have to pay the prevailing camping rates for use of this facility.Visitors are also allowed to camp free of charge anywhere within the park except at the Base Camp. However, it should be noted that such camping is at the visitors’ own risk.
Bridal Veil Falls Chimanimani Bridal Veil
A picnic site is located at the base of the Bridal Veil Falls in The Eland Sanctuary. The sanctuary itself offers spectacular views of the Porkpie mountain range and The Bridal Veil Falls which plunge 50 metres down into a base about 10 metres wide.
The Corner Camp
Hikers who do not like the physical challenge posed by the trails to the mountain hut may prefer this area. This area borders the Chikukwa rural village. Visitors can relax at the picnic site at the base of the Muhohwa Falls or take a plunge in the cool crocodile free pools along the Muhohwa River.
Other attractions in this area include viewing the rare Barrosus Palm tree and the unique rock formation of the Mawenje Mountain. Visitors to this part may also look forward to viewing the Nyakwaha and Haroni Botanical Reserves, as well as the Haroni and Mukurupiri waterfalls.
How to get to Chimanimani
From Harare: Distance 420km on tar. Once in Mutare turn right at the Main Street – this is the Chimanimani Road. Travel 68km out of Mutare and turn left at the Wengezi Junction. Be ready to pay US$1.00 road toll approximately 35km out of Mutare. From Wengezi you have 80km to go. When crossing the Mvumvumvu River, be sure to avoid taking the left fork which indicates Cashel.
From Bulawayo: Distance 560km. From Bulawayo go via Masvingo.
From Masvingo: Distance 278km. Coming out of Masvingo take the Birchenough Bridge road. It is also signed for Mutare. The distance to Birchenough Bridge is 170km. Take special care with speed limits. Cross the most impressive bridge in Zimbabwe and 3km later turn right to Chipinge. Travel 42km to reach the Chimanimani turn off which goes left.37km of sharp bends will take you to Skyline Junction where you turn right and drive 19km into Chimanimani village.
Access to the foot of the mountain range can be made by car from Chimanimani village. The gravel road provides access to the base camp some 19 kilometres from the village. The game scout on duty will advise visitors on the best route to take into the mountains. These paths climb from the Base Camp at 1250m above sea level to the refuge hut which is situated on the West bank of the Bundi River about 1630m above sea level. Two or three hours should be allowed for this walk by any one unused to mountain walking.