By Norma Tsopo
One of a kind quartzite mountain range. Distinct and diverse vegetation cover. A motley assortment of amphibians, insects and animals. Rare endemic bird species. All make Chimanimani a natural wonder paradise.
Forever cool and green, its soothing atmosphere and beautiful scenery make it one of Zimbabwe’s many world-class tourist destinations.
Its main attraction is however the mountain that forms the border with Mozambique which is gifted with beautiful natural pools, waterfalls and streams with its diverse cover of grasslands, rocky outcrops and indigenous flora and fauna.
This tranquil mountainous region’s spirit is captured in the aptly named Heaven Mountain Lodge. A homey guesthouse, wreathed in creepers and vines, is in a very pretty garden amid lush mountain scenery.
The lodge sits at the edge of Chimanimani village, along the way to Chimanimani Mountains National Park – a 150 km but three-hour bus ride from Mutare.
Although it is one of the southern African country’s original backpackers – it is one of a few diverse places in the eastern highlands. Situated on over eight acres of private grounds the lodge caters for backpackers, over-landers, families and business travelers with its wide variety of private rooms, communal dorms – in a mixture of A-frames, cabins and an ordinary room in the main house as well as self-catering cottage and camping facilities.
This also allows it to suit most budgets. Accommodation pricing is also aided by the fact that the lodge offers breakfast on request and on a separate charge.
The main house’s spacious sitting room and dining area are exquisitely decorated with the country’s historical pictures, wacky sculptures and paintings. A theme that runs through the entire establishment to create a relaxing environment.
It also has a book exchange for the internationally diverse book lovers that comes through its doors.
Outside, there is also some garden furniture to sit out in the sun on and admire the mountain scenery.
Jacqui and Allen – the lodge’s ultra-friendly owners also run a bar and restaurant whose major highlight is its wood-fired Saturday pizza nights.
This attracts local town folk and hoteliers allowing their guests an opportunity to interact with a diverse group of people.
This makes the lodge’s common area a source of lasting memories.
The menu is more diverse during other days. But there is need to talk to the cook in advance about the meals and menu options.
The rooms are homey and comfortable. There are plenty of blankets for those cold winter nights too. Some of the rooms however have no en suits and guests will have to be comfortable with shared ablutions. These toilets and showers are clean.
There is a Wi-Fi hotspot, but it comes with a nominal fee.
Chimanimani may not as yet be back to its vibrant tourist magnet it was two decades ago where its tourist inflow figures were only bettered by Victoria Falls but its accommodation facilities are ready to host the visitors.