Another one of my favourite places in Zimbabwe, the Chimanimani National Park is an area in the south of the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. It is a fairly small area of rolling grassy hills, bounded on the east and west by tall mountains of rigged weather carved stone. Throughout the park are numerous little streams running with crystal clear water, and many of the huge rocks strewn across the landscape have been carved out by weather to form caves, many big enough to off shelter. It is an amazing place to walk.
With Annie not being a happy camper like Soph and I, we planned for only 3 nights in the mountains. Even this amount of time she was a bit concerned about, but we assured her that it wouldn’t kill her. After the first day of hiking we reached Terry’s Cave, where we spent the next two nights. The cave is carved out of the underside of a huge boulder, amoungst many other huge boulders. Nearby is a beautiful stream of clear gold tinted water with pools big enough to bath in. All about the rocks are intricately carved by the weather. I could spend days just exploring all of the caves, crevices and huge deep chasms between the rocks. Our first night the rain comes down all night and the wind blows unrelentingly, but we are all very snug in our sleepingbags tucked in the back of the cave, thankful for the huge rock around us. The next day we spend exploring the area. In the afternoon the clouds came down again and we could see the rocky peaks poking out the the mist dramatically.
After two nights we set off northwards. This is a fairly flat walk through plains on which the strange gnarled rocks sit like sentinels, all the while the higher peaks loom above us threateningly. We pass a stunningly beautiful creek where the golden water runs over clean white rock, falling down into quite a deep cocacola coloured pool. We are compelled to stop for a quick swim here. At lunch time we reached our destination, Peterhouse Cave. There is a smaller cave here, right on the main river that flows through the area, the Bundi. Slightly downstream the river tumbles down into a large deep pool, this is Peterhouse Falls. The pool offers one of the best natural cliff jumps I have ever come across. The pool is wide and very deep, the depth making the tinted water appear black. On the one side a jagged wall of rock rises maybe 25m above the pool. Its from here that one can jump, with the waterfall thundering below. Although its quite safe (don’t try this at home kids), the dark, choppy, cold water, thundering waterfall and the ledge below that obscures your view of the landing spot, and the sheer height make it a very very scary jump. Its almost a spiritual thing for me now, I do it each time I go to the Chimanimanis.
The next day we hiked up out of the valley, past the beautiful Digby’s Pool. Here as in many of the other streams, the rock is washed clean by the flowing water, revealing seams of shiny metallic rock. Into the pool the water flows down the rock in a beautiful widening cascade. Up Up we went, past the National Parks Hut and onto the Moon plateau. Our path winds amongst more amazing carved rocks. Many of them have strange craters carved out of them, making them look very moon like. Other rocks stand in ranks of rocks all pointing up to a certain point in the sky. It could easily be a scene out of the Lord of the Rings. Its hear that naviagtion gets a bit tricky. There are a lot more paths than are indicated by our map. In the end we ended up going down the wrong pass and spending a lot longer getting back then we needed to. Nonetheless it was a beautiful trip with even Annie admitting that she really enjoyed it. We all had a shower before stopping at Chimanimani Hotel for a cooked meal.
Now all we had to do was drive the 3 hours to our next stop, The Great Zimbabwe Ruins.

Another one of my favourite places in Zimbabwe, the Chimanimani National Park is an area in the south of the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. It is an area of rolling grassy hills, bounded on the east and west by tall mountains of rugged weather carved stone. Throughout the park are numerous little streams running with crystal clear water, and many of the huge rocks strewn across the landscape have been carved out by weather to form caves, many big enough to off shelter. It is an amazing place to walk.

With Annie not being a happy camper like Soph and I, we planned for only 3 nights in the mountains. Even this amount of time she was a bit concerned about, but we assured her that it wouldn’t kill her. After the first day of hiking we reached Terry’s Cave, where we spent the next two nights. The cave is carved out of the underside of a huge boulder, amoungst many other huge boulders. Nearby is a beautiful stream of clear gold tinted water with pools big enough to bath in. All about the rocks are intricately carved by the weather. I could spend days just exploring all of the caves, crevices and huge deep chasms between the rocks. Our first night the rain comes down all night and the wind blows unrelentingly, but we are all very snug in our sleepingbags tucked in the back of the cave, thankful for the huge rock around us.

The next day we spend exploring the area. In the afternoon the clouds came down again and we could see the rocky peaks poking out the the mist dramatically.

After two nights we set off northwards. This is a fairly flat walk through plains on which the strange gnarled rocks sit like sentinels, all the while the higher peaks loom above us threateningly. We pass a stunningly beautiful creek where the golden water runs over clean white rock, falling down into quite a deep cocacola coloured pool. We are compelled to stop for a quick swim here. At lunch time we reached our destination, Peterhouse Cave. There is a smaller cave here, right on the main river that flows through the area, the Bundi. Slightly downstream the river tumbles down into a large deep pool, this is Peterhouse Falls. The pool offers one of the best natural cliff jumps I have ever come across. It  is wide and very deep, the depth making the tinted water appear pitch black. On the one side a jagged wall of rock rises maybe 25m above the pool. Its from here that one can jump, with the waterfall thundering below. Although its quite safe (don’t try this at home kids), the dark, choppy, cold water, thundering waterfall, the ledge below that obscures your view of the landing spot, and the sheer height make it a very very scary jump. Its almost a spiritual thing for me now, I am compelled do it each time I go to the Chimanimanis.

On our last day we hiked up out of the valley, past the beautiful Digby’s Pool. Here as in many of the other streams, the rock is washed clean by the flowing water, revealing seams of shiny metallic rock. Into the pool the water flows down the rock in a beautiful widening cascade. Up Up we went, past the National Parks Hut and onto the Moon plateau. Our path winds amongst more amazing carved rocks. Many of them have strange craters carved out of them, making them look very moon like. Other rocks stand in ranks of rocks all pointing up to a certain point in the sky. It could easily be a scene out of the Lord of the Rings. Its here that navigation usually  gets a bit tricky. There are a lot more paths than are indicated by our very simple map. In the end we ended up going down the wrong pass and spending a lot longer getting back then we needed to. Nonetheless it was a beautiful trip with even Annie admitting that she really enjoyed it. We all had a well deserved shower before stopping at Chimanimani Hotel for a cooked meal.

Now all we had to do was drive the 3 hours to our next stop, The Great Zimbabwe Ruins.

Chimanimani Hike
Chimanimani Hike
Part of Zimbabwe’s eastern highands, on the border with Mozambique