Meander through the VUMBA

By Nerine Worsley

Photography by Kelly Landrey

Misty mornings and sunny days with views of continual mountains… nestled in the Vumba region of the eastern highlands in Zimbabwe lies this gem. Pristine mountain forest fills the property and provides a relaxing environment to explore the surroundings or sit back and relax, taking in the views into Mozambique. Meandering paths expose the true beauty, rocks over grown with moss, tree roots that hold the earth together at the base of massive indigenous tress, all providing houses to the many little animals, birds and fungi. Two natural streams spring up within the forest and run parallel down the length of the property, giving fresh mountain water and the natural calming sound of tickling water over rocks. A small dam near the top end of the property, filled with water lilies and accessed over a little wooden bridge creates the most picturesque setting– along the lines of monet’s famous painting. A picnic area with logs to sit on under an old camelia tree is often used as a reading spot, perfect to kick back and relax. Home to numerous creatures, great and small, the  vumba  mountains  are  habitat  to  several semi-endemic species. Dwarf chameleons reaching an average size of only 3 inches are a hit, but very difficult to find, searching the forests at night is an adventure in itself. The little chameleons glow white on the edges of the bushes.

A family of blue duiker live on the property and are often seen quietly snacking  on  the  fallen camellia flowers below the manager’s cottage. A large troop of samango monkeys are resident and provide huge entertainment     with       their       comical antics. A very illusive tree civet has been seen near Twinstreams cottage and seems to think the bird’s bath makes for a great midden. On top of these specials  are countless birds and butterflies, orchids and fungi (even one that glows in the dark!). Seldomseen is known as a bird-watcher’s paradise, the area is home to very special species such as, swynnerton’s robins, buff-spotted flufftails, red-faced crimsonwings  and  many  others.  The  local  bird guide is exceptional, Buluwesi. His knowledge of the forests    and birds is second to none in the Vumba and he often takes clients further than just the Seldomseen surrounds, exploring the Bunga Forest and down into Burma Valley. Seldomseen is made up of one large old farm house, plus two smaller self-contained and serviced cottages. Witchwood Lodge,the first of the three  buildings, comfortably sleeps 9 people, perfect for a family holiday. The large lounge with panoramic views into Mozambique and is warmed by a welcomed fireplace on those cold misty evenings. A veranda-come-passage allows the fog to fill the hallways,  adding  to  your  mountain  and Vumba experience.

A large flat lawn in front of the house is often used as a croquet lawn or cricket pitch, providing endless entertainment for the children.

The second cottage is aptly named Twinstreams as it is situated between the two streams on the property. Previously farm stables this quaint little cottage sleeps up to 5 people. The double bedroom revamped with an ‘upcycled pallet’ look – great for a young or honeymooning couple. The lounge-come-dining area is lit by recycled console jars hung from the ceiling and again warmed by a lovely fireplace. A small slatted-wood cabin is next door to the main cottage with two beds and an extra bed is placed in the lounge.

Named after the very precious Swynnerton’s Robin, Swynnerton Cottage is third down the hill. This wooden cottage is sun-lit and brightly coloured. Sleeping 4 people, one double and two singles, the cottage is small but very cozy. The garden is filled with azaleas and aloes and attracts many sunbirds who buzz around in the sunlight sipping on nectar.

The Vumba offers a number of different entertainment options. Leopard Rock Hotel and Golf Course is a mere 8kms away from Seldomseen. This is the most picturesque golf course in Zimbabwe with beautiful views and very well-kept greens. There is a wildlife reserve on the Leopard Rock property offering very reasonably game walks and drives, a great day outing. The Leopard Rock restaurant offers love-ly light meals if you are popping in for lunch. Again, there are beautiful walks in the forests behind the hotel, with many special species of birds, butterflies and animals. The Bunga Forest and Botanical Reserve are close-by with lovely walks and picnic spots for a day outing. Normal National Parks fees are charged to walk through the forest or visit the gardens. There are a few cottages in the Botanical Reserve, these are self-catering, very simple cottages hidden in the forested side of the gardens. The very renowned Tony’s Coffee Shop is a 24 kilometres from Mutare. Tony provides the most experience and divine gourmet cakes, coffees and teas. This is an absolute must for any chocolate lover.


3.5 hours drive from Harare. Only 28kms from

Mutare on the Vumba Road. Keep left at the

Burma Valley intersection. Turn onto Nyamheni

Road, a left turn before the Bunga Forest.


All year round, great birding in September/Octo-

ber and a little chilly in winter.


Seldomseen offers self-catering options at




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