A marvelous, charming Bunga Forest

10 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
A marvelous, charming Bunga Forest Bunga Forest was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on August 20, 2008 in the cultural category

The ManicaPost

 

Liberty Dube
Tourism Correspondent

ABOUT 10km southeast of Mutare lies Bunga Forest Botanical Reserve — which is arguably the largest conserved area in the Vumba highlands.

The thicket, which is underneath Vumba Mountains, is a dense indigenous rain forest, which is one of the most unique features in Zimbabwe.

It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on August 20, 2008 in the cultural category.

Bunga Forest Botanical Reserve is on land that once belonged to the late Honourable Lionel Cripps, CMG, who was one of the foundation members of the Commission for the Preservation of Natural and Historical Monuments and Relics and left Bunga Forest to the nation.

Bunga Forest has narrow pathways winding through it, in which one has the chance to observe some rare bird species.

As one follows the path through the deep heart of the forest, he or she eventually ends up at the Bunga Views, an area of spectacular cliffs and Brachystegia woodland, overlooking the lower parts of the forest and Burma Valley.

Just like other majestic sites such as Leopard Rock Game Park, Vumba Botanical Gardens, Hivu Scenic Drives, George’s View Point, Prince of Wales View Point, Zonwe Mountain as well as Chinyakwaremba Mountain, the forest is a major site and significant tourism asset in Vumba.

The view of a dense ceiling of closely-spaced trees and their branches as well as ever-green leaves which is habitat to exotic and indigenous birds is a marvel to a visitor’s eye.

The vegetation and altitude resonate with the gradual shift in the weather pattern, providing a cool breeze to a cold front from the temperate warmth of Mutare.

On a tiresome day, a visitor or traveller can seek accommodation at serene and picturesque hotels, motels and other bed and breakfast facilities such as White Horse Inn, Kings Courtyard, Kwayedza Lodge, Leopard Rock, Eden Lodge and Forest Hills among other places.

However, one of the nearest accommodation facilities is White Horse Inn.

At the sight of the hotel, the beauty is no longer concealed.

The forest is home to other indigenous and exotic trees and wildlife.

Some of the trees found in the forest include waterberry, albizia and strangler fig.

 

The forest is a habitat to birds such as white browed robin chat, African pied wagtail, miombo double collard sunbird, African yellow white eye, Jameson’s fire finch, yellow bellied waxbill, streaky headed canary and many more.

Despite its enticing, beautiful and adrenaline rush views and the spectacular view of the flora and fauna, there is a need for travellers to be cautious, especially when exploring the place during late hours.

The forests house various dangerous reptiles that include pythons, cobras, vipers, mambas, adders and chameleons, among others.

They can be dangerous if explored later during the day because of darkness and obscurity.

The savannah woodland is home to several rare reptiles including Marshalls Leaf Chameleon (Rhampholeon marshalli), Arnolds Skink (Proscelotes arnoldi) and frogs.

Vumba as it was known to mean “mist” in the local Manyika language, together with Chimanimani and Nyanga form part of the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, bordering Mozambique.

The driveways to private homes are marked with flower beds of hydrangeas and intricate wrought iron gates.

Huge forests of eucalyptus trees blend with the indigenous flora of Bunga Forest Reserve, and the branches often fold over the road like arches.

The seasons introduce a great variety of colour to any walk.

When the Msasa trees unfold their new leaves, a wonderful pallet of red and orange, green and yellows colours is revealed.

At other times of the year, the path is moist, cool and lush and the trees and rocks are covered in ferns, mosses and flowering epiphytic orchids provide a beautiful contrast with the trees they grow in.

The path, which leads back to the main road, winds through sub-montane grassland.

Vumba Mountains are home to some of the rarest butterflies in the ecoregion and is a magnet for keen bird watchers out in search of rare species to tick on their lists.

The area is probably best known as one of the main breeding areas of Swynnertons Robin which lives and breeds in small patches of forest.

Livingstone’s Turacos (Tauraco livinstonii) are present, although they are often heard, but not seen while a small number of mammals inhabit the area include leopards, samango monkeys, bush pigs, blue duikers and common duikers, among others.

 

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