By Rufaro Kaviya
Exhilarated and absolutely terrified. The two most prevalent emotions at the forefront of my mind as I gripped the cable with a dependency for life like no other – this after only taking the first step off of the platform to walk across the highest suspended bridge in the world over the second largest waterfall, Mutarazi Falls.
Making as early a start after an activity packed Heroes Weekend, we found ourselves on the road once again making our way deeper into the mountains of the Eastern Highlands towards Nyanga. Our destination in mind, Far and Wide along with the treat that is the Skywalk and Skyline. With time rolling by with blaring music, great company and the occasional tourist pit stop we soon found ourselves passing the Far and Wide Adventure Centre with our hearts set for an early adrenaline start. With each kilometre that took us closer to the entrance and further into the Nyanga National Park, our excitement only grew – The welcoming sign, little did we know, was quite the trek from the marvel that is the Falls and the awaiting adventure.
The combination of my short legs and mild unfitness only served to make the trudge through winding paths that much longer, but the damper was short lived as the main attraction finally came into view. For the first time since the proposition of the trip did my recollection of my fear of heights come into play with waves of unease from the sight before me. My head and heart were torn between my unease and my curiosity at the beauty that lay ahead, with the beauty eventually getting the better of me as I stepped closer to the edge.
Harnessed and ready to go, we made our way up to the platform from where we would zip down the Skyline. Watching another couple go first did little to ease my nerves, but our guide, Tafadzwa, had gone over how incredibly safe it all was with both a braking system and a backup and the safety procedures several times for my benefit, I believe. Ready to push off, I secured my phone to my body with a combination of multiple lanyards ready to document each second in case I closed my eyes. With a signal from the other end, a deep breath and a countdown I raised my legs, sat in my harness and I was suddenly flying. Initially with a curdling scream and the realisation that I was spinning rather uncontrollably in my harness, I was soon silenced by the view below me. The cascading waterfall disappearing into the mist of the river below and the sight of the Honde Valley at an indescribable height to my right. The moment seemed to last so much longer than the seconds it took to zoom with such freedom through the air. singular moments engraved and documented in my mind. Unfortunately, this was not the case with my attempt at digital documentation. Now waiting and watching from the other side, I was able to see the adrenaline and energised states as the rest of our group joined us across the Falls. We watched in awe as the last, Tafadzwa, came down in a cool and collected state perfecting his latest landing backwards in a manner we unanimously agreed was akin to Superman. With the remnants of adrenaline in our systems and nerves no longer as high as the bridges we crossed, we completed our circuit across the shorter and longer bridges ensuring we savoured each moment of the rare sight. The final test to our fitness for the afternoon was not our hike back to the carpark, but rather our exploration of the commercial view which, as one couple we passed as we were about to give up the walk in the sweltering afternoon sun put it was, right over there. I assure you, it was not! My Google Fit may have appreciated the extra steps, but the overlooking view of the valley beyond soon silenced all complaints. A while later with smiles on our faces and slight sensory overload we decided it was time to go and settle in our home for the night.
Retracing our path on the dusty road we found ourselves at the Mutarazi Cottages and soon made home in Chris’ Cottage. The outer stonework seamlessly blended with the rolling view of the valley beyond whilst the rustic look of the modern interior provided a calm and relaxing atmosphere. The cottage built between 10 to 15 years ago lacked nothing, featuring two bedrooms: a loft style main ensuite bedroom with a balcony and a sauna and a second ensuite bedroom furnished with two bunk beds; a fully-equipped kitchen, dining and lounge area with a fireplace, and garden section with a stone braai. With little to no network, it was the perfect location for some downtime! Having had dinner, we camped around the fireplace equipped with blankets and extra pillows for a night of cards and sharing stories here and there.
Waking up knowing it was time to return home, we packed our bags, made some breakfast and in an attempt to hold on to the remnants of peace, set out on a morning stroll to the Honde Valley viewpoint. With a final glance and the car loaded up, we set off on our way back to Harare.
Owned and run by the Cragg family, Far and Wide has so much to offer the local and international tourist. With the Turaco trail, bird watching, rafting and kayaking, just to name a few, still left on my list of things to do, they can be expecting my return soon. Contact Far and Wide at email@example.com– © NZiRA Travel Zimbabwe, Issue 14 http://www.nzira.co.zw