I Climbed the Highest Mountain in Zimbabwe

Apologies for the lag in posting lately. My trip to Zimbabwe was a month ago and I’m just writing about it now.

Last month I traveled to Zim with Ray‘s family to celebrate his grandmother’s 90th birthday. We spent a couple of days in Harare (the capital) and then four days in Nyanga, in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands. The whole family stayed together in Nyanga, in a rambling mountain holiday house.

Nyanga is a magical place. I’ll have more to say about the area as a whole in a future post.

Nyangani vista2

Nyanga National Park.

But first let me tell you about one of the highlights of the trip — climbing Mount Nyangani, the highest mountain in Zimbabwe. I’m pretty sure I’ve never climbed the highest mountain in any country before so this was a pretty big deal. It wasn’t all that hard, either. And of course the views were amazing.

Nyangani sign

Mount Nyangani is the highest mountain in Zimbabwe at 2592 meters (8504 feet) above sea level. The mountain is inside Nyanga National Park. The sign above states that Mount Nyangani is spiritually important to many Zimbabweans and tourists are asked to respect traditional beliefs. Among other things, you should point at objects with a clenched fist, rather than a finger, and “maintain a poker face” if you are privileged enough to observe spiritual phenomena such as “trees with breasts”, “smouldering clay pots and caves”, or “granite boulders shaped like a grave”. Unfortunately I didn’t see any of those things.

The climb is somewhat strenuous but certainly no Everest — we made it to the top in less than two hours.

Nyangani foothills2

A little less than halfway up.

Nyangani hikers

My climbing partners: Ray, Ray’s Uncle Chris, Ray’s cousin Sarah, and Sarah’s boyfriend Ben.

Nyangani foothills

View from the back side of the mountain.

Ray on rock

Believe it or not, Ray is afraid of heights.
 Nyangani tree

Nice tree.

wildflowers

We saw some beautiful wildflowers during the climb.

Protea

The protea trees were in full bloom.

We were only marginally tired by the time we reached the top. It’s a pretty easy hike for a relatively fit person. The steepest climbs are at the beginning.

Ben on top

Ben relaxes near the summit.

Nyangani mist

Apparently it’s almost always misty at the top, even in the middle of the day. For some perspective on how high we were, check out how tiny that road looks in the bottom-right corner.

Some notes for anyone planning to climb Mount Nyangani:

1) The mountain in inside Nyanga National Park and you have to pay an entry fee to get in. The price of admission varies according to your nationality. I managed to pass as a South African and I think I paid $8 (admission is higher for Americans and Europeans). There are lots of other cool things to see in the park, which I plan to discuss in a future post.

2) Technically tourists are not supposed to climb Mount Nyangani alone, but rather with a guide from the park. A solo climber disappeared on the mountain several months ago so the park is being extra careful. We were unaware of this though, and when we arrived at 7:30 a.m. the entrance to the park was open and no one was there. So we managed to slip in and climb the mountain on our own. The park rangers weren’t happy with us though.

3) I almost forgot the most important point. The roads in Nyanga are extremely rough and it would be very difficult to reach Nyangani in a regular car. A 4×4 is highly recommended.

More Nyanga stories to come.

Heather Ray at top

Ray and I atop Mount Nyangani. (Photo: Sarah Charnaud)

PS: The comment section on the blog is finally working again. And in fact it works even better than before. So please comment away — I’ve missed all your feedback.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Frank December 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Living the dream! I envy you and you’re travelling fanatics.

    • Reply 2summers December 12, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Haha, thanks Frank.

  • Reply Debs December 15, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks Heather. Nyanga is one of my favorite places in the world! Thanks for the lovely photos of Mt Nyangani! I climbed this when I was just 12. We were up in Nyanga several years later, when I was about 20, and we saw a helicopter and heard that a child had gone missing from a school hike after saying that she hated the mountain. She was never found. The teacher who had taken them up went back many times over the years to search for her and sadly eventually took his own life because of the pain he felt from loosing the little girl.

    • Reply 2summers December 15, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      Hi Debbie, wow, that’s a terrible story. The mountain seems so benign compared to other places I’ve hiked but clearly it’s not. Beautiful though.

  • Reply sandi December 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    so many childhood memories! Amazing…

    • Reply 2summers December 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      🙂

  • Reply Eugenia Parrish December 23, 2014 at 5:40 am

    These pictures [especially the top one] reminded me so much of the country just south of me in Southern California. In fact, I thought at first it was taken from Dorland Mountain Arts Colony where I have spent retreat time. But then I realized that the road down there was just a “little” farther away than Route 79 below Dorland! Still, I think I’d feel at home at Nyanga.

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