Some general information about what to expect when visiting the Vumba
How to describe the Vumba ? Lush, green, cozy, comforting, energetic, melancholic on a misty day, secluded, peaceful, these are some of the words that come to mind.
Looking out the window at Ndundu lodge, you are surrounded by green forests. Samango monkeys jump from tree to tree, warning each other with agitated calls as a Crowned Eagle soars over. A male Bronze Sunbird flits around the parking area, marking his territory with a repetitive call, like a zealous traffic attendant.
A 10 minute walk takes you to one of the most unique rainforests in Zimbabwe, the Bunga Forest. This is a protected National Botanical Reserve. Even on a hot day in October it is moist, cool and lush. The forest floors, trees and rocks are covered in ferns, mosses and orchids. In patches of prehistoric looking spiny tree ferns, one could almost imagine a dinosaur around the next corner. A miniature look-a-like may even cross your path in the form of the endemic Marshall's Dwarf Chameleon.
Walking through the forest, you may find spore of Bush Pig and Blue Duiker or hear its shrill whistle of alarm when this tiny antelope thinks you are to close for comfort. You follow the path through the deep heart of the forest and eventually end up at the Bunga Views, an area of spectacular cliffs and Brachystegia woodland, overlooking the lower parts of the forest and the BurmaValley.
Come September you might think that someone hired Van Gogh to paint the scenery; the whole area is a pallet of colours as the Msasa trees unfold their new leaves. Reds and orange, greens and yellows mixed together into one stunning dance of colours. At other times of the year, flowering epiphytic orchids provide a beautiful contrast with the trees they grow in. The path, which leads you back to the main road, winds through montane grassland with scattered Cabbage trees raising their microphone-shaped flowerheads.Wild proteas attract sunbirds and sugarbirds.
A 10 minute walk in the other direction takes you to Chinyakwaremba, one of the main peaks in the Vumba. This is aprivate nature sanctuary, protected by the joined owners and Environment Africa. A well-trotted path gently meanders to the top. The sheer drop at the otherside tells you: "No further, unless you are an eagle!" On a clear day the views are absolutely superb. Lake Chicamba, in neighbouring Mozambique, stretches itself out in front of you, clear blue and seemingly endless. Far below the cliffs you look down on miniature people playing golf and you may just detect the shapes of the zebras grazing at the Leopard Rock game reserve. Going back, Common Duiker may sprint away ahead of you. They stop at a safe distance, wondering what you are up to next. During the summer months, terrestrial orchids and other flowers stick their pretty heads out of the grass.
These are just some of the places you can explore while walking in the Vumba. There are dozens of others, less known but equally beautiful. There are waterfalls, small streams, overgrown boulders, hidden valleys or steep rocky outcrops. Arriving back at the lodge, a fire has been set up and half an hour later the mist might move in. Within 5 minutes it is solid, giving the whole environment a fairy tale feel. There could be elves dancing in the forest now!!!