​Expert Reviews – Nyanga NP

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Emma Gregg   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: April

Emma is an award-winning travel writer for Rough Guides, National Geographic Traveller, Travel Africa magazine and The Independent.

2 people found this review helpful.

Wooded hills and waterfalls
Overall rating

If you believe a safari just isn’t a safari if it doesn’t include a few Big Five encounters, Nyanga is unlikely to make your shortlist. To me, this park’s biggest appeal lies in its hiking potential. Naturally, hikers would argue that a shortage of large, dangerous animals is a distinct advantage in making lengthy walks both feasible and enjoyable. The region is so tame that, in the 1890s, Cecil Rhodes snapped up a large chunk of it for orchards and grazing.

While you’re unlikely to see big cats in Nyanga, this large, mountainous park in the Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands is by no means devoid of wildlife – you’ll see antelopes and birds as you tackle the trails.

I love the variety of scenery here – there are some stunning panoramic views from the higher ground, and some tremedous rivers and waterfalls in the valleys.

Lizzie Williams   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: September

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

1 person found this review helpful.

A short scenic drive through the Eastern Highlands, and a view of Zimbabwe’s tallest waterfall
Overall rating

This is an easy park to visit and there were good views of the Nyanga Mountains from the main ‘circular’ gravel road. On the higher slopes was moorland vegetation and in the valleys, dry grassy plains but I only saw a couple of grazing antelope. The highlight was the viewpoint overlooking the Mtarazi Falls (761 metres); a free-leaping waterfall of two delicate tiers and the tallest waterfall in Zimbabwe. Beyond was the Honde Valley, some 800 metres below, with its lovely bright green tea estates and wooded areas of wild fig trees. Combined with a stop for tea at one of the country hotels near the park, it was a pleasant country drive, but I find the scenery in the Vumba and Chimanimani mountains south of Mutare more dramatic.

Philip Briggs   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Multiple times

Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.

Rhodes’s former estate in the Eastern Highlands
Overall rating

The centrepiece of the highlands to the north of Mutare, Nyanga National Park, was at one time the personal property of Rhodes. The boulder strewn moonscapes, dominated by immense onion peel granite domes that dwarf their more publicised Matobo relations, are inherently very beautiful – and unmistakably Zimbabwean. But this is also the most ecologically compromised of Zimbabwe’s major reserves, with much of the natural cover of heath and indigenous woodland now replaced by timber plantations and fruit cultivation. Several wonderful sites lie close the park, notably the Chirinda Forest Reserve, which protects several very rare bird species in what is Africa’s most southerly true rainforest, and the wonderful waterfalls and highland meadows of the Chimanimani Mountains.

Paul Murray   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: Multiple times

Paul is a travel writer, author of the Bradt guidebook to Zimbabwe and is closely involved in promoting tourism to Zimbabwe.

Scotland in Africa
Overall rating

This is a great park to come to after a lengthy safari in hot, dusty, open game viewing vehicles when you’re dying for some cool mountain air, but don’t come for big game viewing because there isn’t any. Golf, trout fishing and hiking will keep you busy. The scenery’s lovely (if you can ignore the forestry plantations) and there are some great places of historic interest, but it’s not a safari destination. Having said all that, if you’re a keen birder this, along with other places a little further south in the Eastern Highlands (notably the Bvumba area) is truly one of the continent’s hotspots. You’ll need a specialist guide to locate your wishlist birds deep in the indigenous woods and forests (also home to the charming Samango monkey) and needless to say the best birding is during the wet, summer season, but you certainly won’t go home disappointed.

Ariadne van Zandbergen   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Dry season

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

Nyanga, the garden of Cecil John Rhodes
Overall rating

This scenic area in the Eastern Highlands is excellent walking country. This isn’t a pristine park though. Unfortunately a lot of the indigenous vegetation has been cleared in the past for farming and forestry. The birding is good, but I haven’t seen any other wildlife. Samango monkey, baboons and reedbuck are the animals you’re most likely to see. The park is also home to the little blue duiker, but you would have to be very lucky to spot one. There are several walks available taking in waterfalls and other points of interest. I walked to Nyangwe Fort, one of several mysterious ancient ruins within the park.

Average Expert Rating

  • 2.4/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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  • 1 star 1
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