Written by SaraP on 02 Jan, 2004
It’s a long way to head down to Masvingo for great Zim, so what else is there in the area? The main jumping off point for the World Heritage Site at Great Zimbabwe is Masvingo (28km away from the entrance). Frankly, it’s a rather…Read More
It’s a long way to head down to Masvingo for great Zim, so what else is there in the area?
The main jumping off point for the World Heritage Site at Great Zimbabwe is Masvingo (28km away from the entrance). Frankly, it’s a rather unprepossessing spot, a dry and dusty mining and farming town for most of the year; if you visit in September, you'll at least see the purple jacarandas and scarlet poinsettias which set the streets alight. Originally Fort Victoria, it was the site of the first white settlement in the country, not surprisingly named after the English Queen. Present-day Masvingo is the hub of an active mining district, producing a large variety of minerals (asbestos, chrome, lithium, tin, tungsten and gold); asbestos is mined at Mashava and Zvishane; gold at Renco and Bikita. The region's claim to fame is as the largest source of lithium in the world. From what we could see, it had nowhere to eat in the evening (there were one or two grotty-looking cafes/bars during the daytime) and nowhere to stay!
Also in the area are the following attractions :
-- Mutirikwi National Park and Kyle Recreational Park. Kyle (Scottish for a channel of water) is the second largest dam in the country after Kariba -- years of drought have hit hard and the Lake Mutirikwi's capacity has shrunk so that water sports are now unfeasible but it’s worth a trip nonetheless to the vast park and game reserve as they form a stirring landscape of granite, aloe plants and giant cacti, with nyala, oribi, tsessebe, eland, wildebeest, zebra, kudu, giraffe, and the marvellous white rhinos wandering amongst the San paintings which are daubed on the rocks. Game viewing can be undertaken either by car or pony trails. Walks are demarcated and there are picnic sites. Horse riding is also popular for game-viewing (US$20 for 2 hours).
-- Though just off the Bulawayo road and only 25 kilometres from Masvingo, Mushandike Dam is not on tour itineraries. This means you are likely to have the Mushandike Sanctuary , with its antelope, zebras and leopards, to yourself. Winter is the best season for scenic drives when the leaves of the Mopane trees set the forest aflame with their autumnal colours.
-- There’s a small chapel at the dam wall, dedicated to St Andrew – depending on who you talk to, it was built either by an earlier water bailiff in memory of his daughter or by Italian prisoners of war during WWII. Either way, interred are the remains of 71 Italian PoWs and is worth visiting for the murals which are reminiscent of the Sistine chapel.
-- Also found near Great Zimbabwe is Morgenster Mission & Finger Rocks. The mission is known for its School for the Deaf. The World's View at Morgenster is one of the finest panoramas in Zimbabwe, the Finger Rocks being two monoliths, which appear to guard the entrance to the mission.
Written by SaraP on 14 May, 2003
On the way to Masvingo, the Serima Mission (pass through Chatsworth, turn left at the small dam and drive straight for about 25km) is a jewel - it's run as a school and also a sort of adult halfway house. The pretty little Church…Read More
On the way to Masvingo, the Serima Mission (pass through Chatsworth, turn left at the small dam and drive straight for about 25km) is a jewel - it's run as a school and also a sort of adult halfway house. The pretty little Church of Our Lady attached to the mission contains some fantastic carving (font, candlesticks, lecterns) and marquetry, set into the walls, of biblical scenes.
It's quite a trek through the countryside to get there but you'll pass through lovely countryside and pick up the sights and sounds of life going on way outside the cities (and villages).
At the mission, the nuns are welcoming (they don't seem to get many visitors and make the most of you) and well informed about the history of the mission, and can also tell you a great deal about how the local people are faring.
The mission was set up in 1948 under the auspices of a Swiss missionary (Father Grober) who taught local people the techniques of carving as well as spreading the good word.
His legacy can also be found in the curious (both for its name and the set-up) Golden Spiderweb on the Masvingo Road (you can't miss it by car as there's only one road) which has the best kept toilets I have seen anywhere in Zimbabwe, serves magnificent fresh chocolate cake and sells bargain souvenirs. Look out for the Swiss-style St Nicholas figures as part of Father Grober's influence and the dinky "Christmas Shop" (which doesn't sell anything remotely festive these days).
Other sights in the area of Great Zim include the game park on Lake Kyle which is well worth a deviation, as is the Lake itself (for watersports and gentle walking).
Written by Peregrine on 15 Nov, 2000
There is a little teahouse at Great Zimbabwe that looks almost like the Seven Dwarfs might inhabit it. Tucked amongst the acacias, it is a little thatched rondoval surrounded with flower gardens and stone walkways. Outside are stone tables and benches with thatched…Read More
There is a little teahouse at Great Zimbabwe that looks almost like the Seven Dwarfs might inhabit it. Tucked amongst the acacias, it is a little thatched rondoval surrounded with flower gardens and stone walkways. Outside are stone tables and benches with thatched 'umbrellas' where you can bring your tea and crumpets.
The gift shop takes up most of the building, and most of the gift shop items are T-shirts. Very nice ones, actually. We did find a little soapstone replica of the Zimbabwe Bird here, and other small trinkets for friends back home.
Like everywhere else in Zimbabwe, the food was cheap by our standards, and quite delicious. Besides tea, they have scones and crumpets, and other light snacks.
A word of caution. Those 'umbrellas' are lower than you think and that thatch is hard. Watch your head. I learned the hard way. Twice.