We suspect most folk don’t realise how amazing and diverse Zambia is, OR how best to go about exploring it
This narrow strip of mountain country that makes up Manicaland province isn’t the Africa that normally crops up in armchair travellers’ fantasies. The Eastern Highlands more resembles Great Britain, with verdant hills cloaked in mists, and pine forests and botanical gardens taking the place of the usual arid landscapes and game plains. It’s where well-heeled Harare residents used to head away to their weekend holiday homes to fish for trout and sit by the fireplace in between meanders into the countryside.
The region has always had huge tourism potential; during the 1990s it was a backpacker hub, but these days it only gets a fraction of the visitors it deserves. Come to hike in its spectacular national parks – it offers easily the best walks in the country, taking you past tranquil rivers, waterfalls and stunning vistas overlooking Mozambique.
Nyanga National Park
National park in Eastern Highlands
029-8274,+263 773 500398
LOCATION: Eastern Highlands, Zimbabwe
Location of Nyanga National Park
Scenic and secluded, beautiful Nyanga National Park is 100km north of the Bvumba, the central mountains of the Eastern Highlands. Some parts may remind you of Scotland while others are reminiscent of Arizona. Nyanga has Africa’s second highest waterfall and breathtaking views over the lush Honde Valley, into Mozambique.
The national park has its headquarters at Nyanga (Rhodes) Dam. Most people come here to hike on Mt Nyangani, Zimbabwe’s highest peak: we’re not talking Kilimanjaro – it takes 1½ to three hours to reach the summit from the car park east of Nyanga Dam. For something more substantial, a three- to four-day walk continues from Mt Nyangani past Pungwe Drift and into Honde Valley.
There are a number of interesting sights near the park headquarters, including some old ruins, and the Rhodes Museum. Nyangombe Falls lies 5km west of Nyangombe camping ground and 2km from Udu Dam. At the southern end of the park the spectacular Mtarazi Falls and smaller Muchururu Falls plummet down a sheer cliff face into the Honde Valley.
Bridal Veil Falls
Waterfall in Chimanimani
LOCATION; Chimanimani, Zimbabwe
Location of Bridal Veil Falls
The aptly named Bridal Veil Falls drop 50m in a delicate, fanned manner. It’s worth a visit for its tranquil sanctuary location where you can swim at the base of the falls. It’s 6km northwest of town, just over an hour’s walk. Pay the admission fee before you leave at the parks office in town.
Spring in Chimanimani National Park
LOCATION: Chimanimani National Park, Zimbabwe
Location of Tessa’s Pool
A popular place to visit within the national park is this natural swimming hole. Also here are San rock art paintings, but drop by the Outward Bound School (a children’s adventure camp that manages the area) first to gain permission. Be sure to take all your rubbish with you!
Viewpoint in Nyanga National Park
PRICE adult/child US$2/1
LOCATION Nyanga National Park, Zimbabwe
Location of World’s View
A National Trust site, World’s View is perched atop the Troutbeck Massif (2000m), with broad views of northern Zimbabwe. There’s also a gallery showing local artists. It’s 11km up a winding, steep road from Troutbeck – follow the signposts.