The Mist-ical Bvumba Mountains

Article by Mike Garden
Sometimes you just need to abandon the fast city life and head off into the hills. You need to stop racing from one busy pursuit to the next and take stock of where you are going in life. The Bvumba mountain range in the southern part of Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands offers just that kind of destination with simple yet beautiful cottages hidden away in discreet corners. All around there are forests boasting the tallest trees harbouring birdlife sought after by the most ardent of birdwatchers. I was, recently, invited up to the Bvumba to stay in one such exquisite cottage. Madrugada Lodge has three independent cottages situated in such a way that each maintains its own complete privacy. The owner, Roger Castelin, was once an accountant leading a hectic life in Harare. One weekend whilst taking a much-needed break from the city he came across the site that would eventually host his dream place to live. There were, of course, only trees and more trees. The lodge borrows the Portuguese word for dawn, Madrugada for its name to help paint a picture of the wondrous view one sees most mornings looking east over Lake Chacamba in Mozambique. Those of you that have spent time in the Eastern Highlands all know that it is mandatory to spend time sitting around a fireplace with piles of wood and dry twigs on hand nearby to keep the fires stoked whilst one reads late into the night.

The main cottage is a double storey with a fireplace in the lounge and another in the spacious main bedroom upstairs. The weather up there is constantly changing with clear blue skies one minute followed by heavy clouds hemming one in the next. Roger took me on a walk around “his” forest pointing out all the different species of trees and shrubs. Every few steps he would stop; hold his hand up high; and point in the direction from where another unusual bird was calling. The Livingstone Laurie is all over the place along with Narina Trogans, Bluff spotted Flufftails and many more. Strangler Fig Trees are common too – all coming with their own special narration from Roger walking with his two special German Shepherds. Wherever one is in the Bvuma you can bet there is a waterfall nearby giving one that peaceful feeling often associated with cascades of water descending into clear blue pools far below. So why not book a trip away at Madrugada sometime soon. Then make sure you pop into your nearest bookshop or library to ensure you have plenty of reading material to pass some quiet alone time. It’ll surely add years to your life and your return home raring to go once more.

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