The Vumba Mountains, are situated in the Eastern Highlands of Manicaland Province.The Mountains overflow with life all year round. The lush botanical gardens and luxuriant forests are fantastic for walks, espeically for those interested in botany and bird watching. The mountains offer some spectacular views over the highlands and tropical lowlands of Mozambique.
The Bvumba Mountains or Vumba Mountains lie on the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border, approximately 25 km south east of Mutare. The vumba rise to Castle Beacon at 1911 metres, and are, together with the Chimanimani and Nyanga part of the Eastern Highlands in Zimbabwe bordering Mozambique. Referred to as the "Mountains of the Mist", (Vumba is the Shona name for "mist".), as so often the early morning starts with a mist but clears by mid morning. Although lying mostly within Zimbabwe, the mountains extend north-east into Mozambique. These cool green hills shelter country hotels, a casino and golf course at the Leopard Rock Hotel and a Botanical Gardens with one of the best views in Africa. The mountains are also known for their coffee plantations.
Flora and Fauna
The mountains are dominated by savannah woodland, including Brachystegia / miombo. There are also extensive sub-montane grasslands, local mist-belts with mosses and epiphytic and lithophytic ferns and sub-montane evergreen forest in the deeper ravines. The higher levels of the mountains are sparsely vegetated, with shrubs such as proteas, aloes and Strelitzia.
In the centre of the mountains lies the Bunga Forest Botanical Reserve and neighbouring Bvumba Botanical Garden. The latter is landscaped around a number of small streams and includes an important cycad collection, with 59 of the 189 known species, including Encephalartos manikensis, E. ferox, E. lehmanii, E. pterogonous, E. cycadifolius, E. eugene-maraisii.
Although small in area, the mountains are a botanical paradise and home to some of the rarest butterflies in the region. The Bvumba mountains offer exciting and varied birding opportunities. The area is probably best known as one of the main breeding areas of Swynnerton's Robin which lives and breeds in small patches of forest, some on private land, others within the Bunga forest. Livingstones Turacos Tauraco livinstonii are present in large numbers though their territorial calls may often be heard long before they are seen - the brilliant crimson wing feathers sometimes visible for miles as they glide from one patch of canopy to another. A smaller number of mammals inhabit the Bvumba, perhaps the most notable of which are the leopard and the samango monkey, the latter's range being very limited. Savannah woodland adjoining the Mozambique side of the range is home to several rare reptiles including Marshalls Leaf Chameleon Rhampholeon marshalli Arnolds Skink Proscelotes arnoldi and frogs.
The climb to the prominence, Castle Beacon, is up a large granite dome. The lower slopes are a mist belt with sub-montane vegetation. Proteas are found on the higher levels. Vumba Mountain, on the Mozambique side, is a steep hike to a summit with a good view of Manica and environs.
Areas of Interest
Bunga Forest Botanical Reserve
- Manchester Gardens - a landscaped garden with the Reserve arranged about a series of artificially created streams and dams
- Elim Mission Memorial - a plaque at the beginning of the Eagle school Road - to the memory of the innocent victims of the Elim Mission Massacre 1978
- Leopard Rock Hotel, Golf Course and Casino
- The Refuge or Castle - now a guest house originally the mangers house for Leopard Rock Hotel
- Leopard Rock
- Chinziwa Scout Park
- Cripps Family Burial Plot
- White Horse Inn - at the end of the tar on White Horse Inn Road
On the Zimbabwean side, the Mountains are accessible by a good road from Mutare. The Mozambique side of the mountains are can be reached from a road to the Vumba Water Bottling Plant, which leaves the main EN6 highway just west of Manica.