All packed and ready to hit the traffic police filled highways ( a record 13 police stops ) , my three friends (Tha , Addy and Jerad) and I were ready for a weekend away in Vumba. Off we were for a weekend of calm and eastern highlands adventures 3.5 – 4 hours away from Harare. The weekend away was filled with some expected and unexpected adventures. Below I share some of highlights from the weekend away.
Roads Stops and the Halfway House
The drive to Mutare/Vumba is a picturesque one and shows the diversity of the Zimbabwean landscape minus the notorious lime green reflector vests stops. The drive is a wonderful opportunity to take in the Zimbabwean outback. This year , we stopped at the Halfway House which in its Golden days I am told was a tourist hub and filled with a buzz. The iconic white building resembling the colonial era and iconic Dutch style buildings is quite the historical structure. The shop shelves are not fully stocked as there once were but there are some locally grown vegetables . The shop leads to a garden entrance where several chairs and tables are scattered for restaurant goers. The garden area also includes a curios/gift shop that stock locally made arts and crafts. The intriguing space also has some antiques and vintage ornaments which an antique collector would certainly be intrigued by. The shop is somewhat unique and misplaced which adds to its appeal. It is almost something of a photo set, with one room’s collection pieces centred around a square fishpond . With only one or two families visiting/touring the Halfway House during our pop in , it is evident that business is low and somewhere in all its surprising beauty is a treasure that what once was. While the spot certainly needs some work and traffic , the potential of The Halfway House is Grande!
Halfway House pond room
Majig Patio View
2.Majig and Overlooking Mozambique
This time around we did not stay at a private cottage but rather at the homey self catering lodge that is , Majig overlooking Mozambique recommended by @craigzoowie . The cosy and cute space located in lower Vumba is owned by Fiona and can sleep about 6 people . The beautiful home is made up of 3 rooms , 2 bathrooms , and a warm kitchen with a stunning patio view not forgetting the blue pool overlooking the green mountains. We felt very much at home and self catering allowed for us to be flexible with our meal times. From the stunning view and lovely setup this place is warm and perfect for a group of friends or a family vacay!
Before our walk turned into a hike
3. Hikes, Walks and Waterfall Adventures
My first visit to Vumba did not include much physical activity or walking adventures . So this year , I decided that at least one walk was necessary to truly appreciate the beauty of Vumba . Our walking guide Elias , took us on our adventure to what he described as a “30” minute walk tot he small “nearby” waterfall . Trusting his word , not to be reminded that we are very much amateurs ( my 15 minute daily suburban walks could barely prepare me for what was to follow) . As we embarked on our light 30 minute walk we soon realised our false promise as it surprisingly and painfully turned into a hike. Filled with uneasy paths , several slopes and a breathless me. My oh My! Did I regret sticking to my Vumba walking promise. Elias’s sense of time left me baffled , a good 40 minutes into the walk I realised the end was nowhere near nor was the beginning . An hour after several breaks , a few slippery edges we reached our target , a small waterfall and cave. At this point , all I contemplated was the one hour walk back down. Between fighting my mental thoughts of exhaustion and fear of getting injured on the slopes. The journey back down was an experience to say the least, just as painful as the one up. The first hazard was , a heard of bulls… yes bulls about 10 bulls in the Vumba wilderness with horns peering at us. Completely surrounded by them , never had I prayed and repented for all my sins as much as I did in
that moment. Cattle are very much dangerous creatures , not to mention bulls with horns. . After all making it through the herd holding my breath through it all. The next encounter , was a rapidly moving green snake that my cousin identified, One step too early , he would have stood on it no doubt. When hiking or walking in the Vumba make sure you have the accurate footwear preferably hiking boots and trousers. To add to the events of the day , I was out there on the slopes in shorts ( not wise at all especially with these poisonous creatures roaming the slopes). You certainly do not want take a chance of being attacked by these venomous creatures 1 hour up a Vumba mountain slope. We eventually made it back to the lodge, 2 hours later after several break downs , weeping , dirty shoes and a whole lot of sweat. While we truly explored the slopes of Vumba which the boys loved , never ever trust the word of a Vumba local on time. A 30 minute light walk to a Vumba resident , is possibly equivalent to a Harare residents jog from the north to south of the city.. After passing a heard off bulls, a slithering poisonous reptile and climbing slopes. It is safe to say my legs were in pain for the rest of the week , and I certainly do have a good year or 2 of dinner conversations. From now on , I’ll stick to Botanical gardens!
Deep in the Vumba forests.
The popular , Tony’s Coffee Shop
4.Tony’s Coffee Shop
A Trip to Vumba warrants a visit to the popular Tony’s Coffee Shop . My annual visit to Vumba is only complete after a visit to the charming coffee shop tucked away in the Vumba mountains. Run by the extraordinary Tony Robinson who adds a personal and welcoming touch to the coffee shop as he attends to all his guests. We popped into Tony’s on the Easter Sunday to a fully packed space with tourists and locals celebrating the holidays. It was so packed , there was no available table! In true Tony fashion, he made sure we were comfortable and quickly made a plan to seat us in the coffee shop’s lounge while he took our orders. The busy day meant that we just missed the last few pieces of chocolate cake ( a favourite) . We , opted for the Baked White Chocolate Cheese Cake and the Brandy Filled Fruit Cake. Soon after our orders were taken, a table cleared , oh the Heavens! We were seated on prime real estate on the newly opened table. Welcomed to the new table with our decadent orders and warm beverages ranging from rich hot chocolate topped with Meringue to coffee with cream. I first dug into the Baked White Chocolate Cake which was a pleasant surprise ( I am normally not a cheese cake fan), the white chocolate adds a surprising light decadence to the cake making it not your average cheese cake . The Brandy Filled Fruit Cake proved to be too boozy living to its billing by Tony , this cake is for the booze lovers. A little less heavy hand on the booze would make the cake a much better option for me (I do like a good fruit cake ). The afternoon visit was filled with fantastic service , vintage china and delicious treats making it a must . Truly a highlight sipping some coffee surrounded by the misty mountains of Vumba.
With friends at Tony’s
Baked White Chocolate Cheesecake
Taking in the beautiful panoramic views
5. Straight Chillin….
The best part about Vumba is the calm air and serene environment for what I call STRAIGHT CHILLING . The Vumba region’s lush environment and fresh air makes it a haven for some R & R. Late mornings , tea and coffee , view watching and fireside side conversations. It is the ideal spot to welcome winter . The beautiful Majig allowed for us to relax , take in the views and chill. What more could one want to do in the chilly new season!