Located about 25 kilometers southeast of the city Mutare, the granite Bvumba mountains are a highlight of any trip to this part of Zimbabwe. The tarred road goes all the way up to the Leopard Rock casino where there are a number of hiking trails. The botanical gardens are worth a walk where many birds and butterflies can be seen. The panoramic view from up here is worth the journey in itself. On the way up, there are patches of forest where you can see the rare Samango monkeys.
The mountains form part of the geographical border with Mozambique and can be visited on a day trip from Mutare, Zimbabwe’s fourth largest city, which offers excellent hostel accommodations for backpackers. Otherwise, you can stay partially up the mountain where there are also hostel choices and more expensive guesthouses set in beautiful, forested surroundings. This is a great area to stay as you will hear lots of birds at dawn, particularly the Livingstone Turaco with its raucous call. These large birds with bright crimson wings are easy to hear yet hard to spot. Choosing accommodations on the mountain, you will see butterflies abound and stand a great chance of spotting a Samango monkey.
The hostels in this area tend to be self-catering, so make sure you bring supplies or at least check beforehand, particularly if you are staying on the mountain. In Mutare, the hostel accommodations are within the city, so supplies as well as restaurants are very easy to come by. Trips up the mountain can be arranged from this town, too.
Both locations have their advantages, but it's a little difficult getting up the mountain via public transportation. Just wait by the Bvumba road in Mutare, signal to every bus and taxi, and eventually you will arrive at your destination; this is how the locals do it! The journey can also be done as a day trip with transportation organized by your hostel in Mutare. Just remember, waking up to the bird chorus on the mountain at dawn is worth the overnight stay there.
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