CHIPINGE District is one of the seven districts in Manicaland Province and is situated in the extreme south of the province.
The district borders with Mozambique in the east, Chimanimani district in the north, with the Save River constituting its western as well as southern boundary where it borders with Buhera and Bikita districts in the west, and Chiredzi district in the south.
Chipinge covers an area of approximately 5 393 square kilometres, with 30 administrative wards. The district is blessed with all five agricultural Natural Farming Regions; the northern part consisting mostly of Natural Farming Regions 1-3 and the southern part Natural Farming Region 4 and 5.
The district is pre-dominantly occupied by the Ndau people under chiefs Mutema, Mapungwana, Gwenzi, Musikavanhu and Garahwa.
There is also a small portion in Chipinge South which is occupied by the Tsonga/Xangani people under Chief Mahenye and Ndwandwe/Nguni people under Chief Mupungu.
Chipinge town is approximately 465km from Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare via Mutare and is about 188km from Mutare. It is also 48km from Mt Selinda border post.
It is sad that Chipinge is struggling to be recognised as far as tourism in Zimbabwe is concerned.
There are many natural features and landscapes which if fully marketed, the region can become a hive of domestic tourism.
In this first part of the series, we are going to look at what Chipinge East has in store for domestic tourism
Chirinda Forest is about 32km from Chipinge town at Mount Selinda under Chief Mapungwana. Chirinda Forest is the country’s biggest and tranquil natural jungle where a lot of flora and fauna is found.
The forest is home to The Big Tree, a 57m tall Redwood tree (Khaya anthotheca) whose estimated aged is above 1 000 years and has trunk diameter of 4,5m. The tree’s height used to be 65m before it was hit by lightning and reduced to 57m.
The Big Tree is rated as Southern Africa’s largest tree, Africa’s second biggest shrub and is the main attraction of Chirinda Forest.
The other attraction of Chirinda Forest is the Valley of the Giants where three distinct large trees named The Three Sisters stood. Unfortunately one of the triple sisters fell down and so remains only twins.
There are some chalets in Chirinda Forest where tourists can relax, dine and sleep at night in case they want to experience overnight outdoor life. A visitor should bring own food, fuel and water when choosing Chirinda Forest.
Musirizwi Falls on Musirizwi River is near Grassflats about 24km along the Mt Selinda road. The feature is just 3km off the Mt Selinda road. The feature is sight soothing when one experiences sounds from the falls which get sweetened by music from birds.
A visitor to Musirizwi has to carry own food, fuel and arrange own accommodation if one decides to spend the night in Chipinge.
Mphungura Ancient Walls
Mphungura Ancient Walls are located about 60km from Chipinge town using the Chipinge-Tuzuka route. They are found at a place called Masvingo under Chief Musikavanhu which is between Chikore and Tuzuka to be precise.
The name Masvingo could have been derived from the popular Great Zimbabwe Ruins in Masvingo which are affectionately known as Masvingo eZimbabwe.
There is a similarity in the construction of Mphungura Ancient Walls and that of Great Zimbabwe Ruins in Masvingo. Both were built without the application of mortar although Mphungura is smaller in area and size. That is why some people call it the “Little Zimbabwe.”
A visitor to Mphungura Ancient Walls should arrange own water, fuel and food since there are no services that provide such. Mphungura Ancient Walls is under management of Ndau Festival of the Arts trust.
Paiyapo Heritage and Arts Development Centre
Paiyapo Heritage and Arts Development Centre is the home of cultural tourism in Chipinge East. The place is owned by Ndau Festival of the Arts (NDAFA) and is where NDAFA galas take place.
Situated about 45km from Chipinge town, the area is in Bangira village under Chief Musikavanhu. Paiyapo measures a hectare in size. There is a women’s museum where fine artist Edwin Hlatswayo exhibits his drawings on women themes.
A visitor to Paiyapo Heritage and Arts Development Centre expects to experience a package of Ndau culture from dances, food, beverages and traditional conservation methods.
Tourists to Paiyapo should also arrange own water, fuel and food since there are no services that provide such.
Chipinge East is pregnant with non-consumptive tourism features that it is a must touring area. In the forthcoming article, we shall look at what Chipinge West has in store for domestic tourism.
For feedback and comments follow: @ephraemsteve