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Mount Nyangani

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Mount Nyangani is located in the Nyanga National Park, which is one of the oldest and largest in Zimbabwe. The park was founded by Cecil John Rhodes and formed much of his original private estate.

The mountain is infamous for the disappearances that have occurred there, rather than appreciated for its Eastern Highlands appeal. The highlands, also called Manicaland, seem out of place in tropical Africa, being more akin to the English moors and highlands of Ireland and Scotland.

This is largely due to the cooler, wetter climate caused by moisture in the oceanic air masses blocked by the high landscape. The air condenses causing low clouds and rain.
The first European settlers were actually so reminded of Scotland that they planted fir trees, created lakes, and added trout to the streams. Today the Nyanga trout are considered a delicacy, especially when caught during a fishing expedition.

The Republic of Zimbabwe is often stricken off travelers’ destination lists due to negative international media coverage. The former government is despised by many, discouraging tourists  from encouraging the government through tourism.

However, since Robert Mugabe’s recent resignation, it can be hoped that tourism in this beautiful country will increase.
Best Time to Visit Mount Nyangani

May to August is the best time to visit Mount Nyangani, as the weather is then at its most predictable.

Mountain Fact File

Location Info
Continent:  Africa
Country:  Zimbabwe
Province:  Nyanga District
Location:  275km North West of Mutare and 268km from Harare.
Coordinates:  18.2956 ° S, 32.8419 ° E
Height:  2,592 meters
Prominence:  Highest mountain in the country
Range:  The Eastern Highlands
Other Nature Info: Mount Nyangani is the source of three rivers, namely, the Pungwe, Nyamuziwa, and Kairezi (a.k.a. Gairezi). The last two are tributaries of the Mazowe River which, in turn, feeds the Zambezi River.

The endangered Inyangani river frog(Amieta inyangae) prevails in the area. Other animals in the national park include wildebeest, impala, and kudu.  

Mountain Nyangani Name Origin

Formerly known as Mount Inyangani, Mount Nyangani is nicknamed “The Mountain That Swallows People” because of the many disappearances associated with it.

The most noted cases include the two young daughters of a former Finance Minister in 1981, and an 8-year old boy, Robert Ackhurst who disappeared on a school trip 5 years later. His teacher later committed suicide. The last disappearance was of Zayd Dada in 2014.

The mountain is to be found in the Nyanga National Park, which is named after an early 19th-century local n’anga (medicine man) called Sanyanga.

Mount Nyangani Geology and Formation

Forming the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe, the Eastern Highlands or the East African Highlands is comprised of Chimaniani, Vumba, and Nyanga which are the southern, central, and northern ranges respectively.

Most mountains in south-eastern Africa began forming about 60 million years ago when the interior of the continent began to arch gently into axes. 40 million years later further lifting and tilting caused swelling in the interior, forming what is known as the African Super Swell, which elevated the topography further and is also responsible for the geomorphology of the Nyanga Mountains.

Where the shifting of tectonic plates has been the cause of mountains forming along their boundaries across the planet, this occurrence is considered an anomaly. It’s still unknown what caused the African Super Swell but it’s been suggested that the heating of the lithosphere was a contributing factor.

Mount Nyangani consists of 2 sub-horizontal dolerite sills. Erosion of the underlying sandstone sediments, which also features siltstone and gritstone, has been prevented because of the dolerite sill on the upper layer.

These dolerite sills are considered to have originated from the Umkondo Group. The cliffs and ridges of the mountain are formed of harder dolerite.

Climbing (or Hiking) Mount Nyangani

The Nyanga National Park offers much for hikers on foot in varying degrees of difficulty as well as for horseback riders. One of the most popular attractions, besides Mount Nyanagani, is the Mutarazi Falls which is the highest waterfall in this landlocked country.  

Climbing Mount Nyangani on the other hand, is considered a strenuous and challenging endeavor. However, the guides who must accompany all hikers say that the peak can be reached within 1 to 3 hours by those of average fitness.

Most of the area is covered with heath and grass at a gentle gradient, up to an altitude of 2200m. The plateau, which covers 8 km² is flanked with steep sides on the east and west with the summit on a small rock outcrop 40m higher. On a cloudless day, Zimbabwe can be viewed to the west and Mozambique to the east.
Marked Hiking Trails on Mount Nyangani
  • The favored route starts at the official car park which is reached via Circular Drive. Known as the Tourist Route, this path starts in the west and is 4.5 kilometers from the starting point, crossing the main plateau, to the summit. This route can be traversed in approximately 3 hours and follows the edge of the upper Nyamuziwa River.
  • Accessible from Circular Drive, this trail begins at the Mountain Club of Zimbabwe hut and follows the northern ridge on the east. It then joins the Tourist Route to the main plateau.
  • The last route begins at Nyazengu Substation which is accessed from a southbound road just before the official car park. Running southwest of the mountain along the Pungwe River causeway, it breaks away from the Nyazengu Trail when heading to the base of Tucker’s Gap.
Unmarked Hiking Trails on Mount Nyangani
These unmarked paths involve no rock climbing but extreme caution is advised due to the mountain’s adverse weather system.  

  • Starting at the Gleneagles Substation which is also reachable from Circular Drive, Gleneagles Road, and Kwaraguza Road, this unmarked path runs between the Kaizeri and Nyama Rivers along the north-eastern ridge.
  • An alternative route can be taken from the Gleneagles Substation which can also be reached via Troutbeck by Nyafuru. This path crosses the heavily vegetated Little Nyangani and crosses the main plateau at Kairezi Falls to the east of the summit.

Top Tips for Climbing or Hiking Mount Nyangani

  • Stock Up On Snacks: When hiking it’s vital to keep energy levels up. Various foods such as nuts, jerky, and energy bars are recommended.

    Also, try out the local delicacy maputi. This popped maize is not the same as traditional popcorn and can be purchased from street vendors.
  • Traveling To Mount Nyangani: After landing at any of the airports, the first stop should be the car rental agency, as public transport is highly unreliable. Zimbabwe also suffers from fuel shortages from time to time. Ask the rental agency for an update.

Stories about police corruption are plentiful, and tourists pulled over at roadblocks are advised not to pay bribes. Excuses such as the vehicle being impounded or that it’s a favor should go unheeded, and  a ticket or an escort to the police station should rather be insisted upon. Generally, if a foreigner stands their ground, they are let go.

Book a 4x4. A regular car won’t be able to cover the rough terrain inside the national park.
  • Dress Wisely:  Mount Nyangani is notorious for dramatic unexpected weather changes which only add to its mystery. Of note is roaring, icy winds and bright, sunny skies that change to thick fog which restricts visibility to less than 50m without warning. This has caused several fatalities.

    Ensure to dress in layers. Mount Nyangani has a high annual rainfall of 2,200mm, making keeping dry a priority.
  • Request Permission: Because of superstition, visitors are asked to request approval from the village elders before ascent.  
  • Compulsory Preparation: Since the last disappearance in 2014, regulations have changed. Fully charged cell phones and a flashlight with spare batteries are a prerequisite before embarking on hikes.

The Legend Of Mount Nyangani

Many people have disappeared on Mount Nyangani never to be found again, earning it’s regular comparisons to other paranormal sites like the mysterious Bermuda Triangle in the Atlantic Ocean, where ships and planes have vanished, and Japan’s Dragon’s Triangle in the Pacific. Interesting to note is that both these areas are also referred to as the Devil’s Triangle.

Mount Nyangani not only has a movie named after it, but the legends surrounding it are covered in a film named Mysteries of Mount Inyangani.

The locals fear the mountain and believe it to be inhabited and protected by powerful ancestral spirits. It’s said that those that disrespect the sacred mountain by complaining, cursing, urinating, defecating, or engaging in sexual activity will cause these spirits upset and they will disappear without a trace. Wearing the color red is also a no-no.
Those that get lost will wander the mountains for all eternity trapped in a state of suspension called chimidza until these spirits have been appeased.

It’s also believed that malicious spirits and other nasty mischievous supernatural beings reside on the mountain. Locals will warn travelers not to pay any attention to bizarre things found while hiking Mount Nyangani. These are said to be trickeries of these creatures and may include a brick of gold, a pot burning without a fire, and a brightly colored snake. These entities also push people off steep ledges.

Other reported bizarre phenomena on Mount Nyangani are strange lights, unrecognizable sounds, streams that turn blood red, grave-shaped granite boulders, and whispering or talking trees that are twisted to resemble a face or have breasts.
Anyone witnessing bizarre observations must ignore it and wear a polka face. For those that would like to point the object out to fellow travelers, a clenched fist can be used instead of a finger.

Those who have been lost and have returned, including experienced hikers, claim to have simply become disorientated. One close call involved a respected senior government official and his 2 companions.

On being found 4 days later, after culture rites were performed with alleged blood sacrifices, they exhibited no signs of dehydration, hunger, or fatigue. Although they saw the searchers looking for them, they found themselves to be invisible while in this trance-like state, and further claimed that the days felt like mere hours.

Getting lost is often attributed to the mist and fog which is said to stalk hikers. Hikers are advised not to travel up the mountain after midday as the mists are most common in the afternoon.

Disturbingly, when Zayd Dada went missing in 2014, 3-dimensional satellite enhancements and infrared scanning by a mountain rescue team turned up no findings – not a belt buckle, wallet, or clothing. Predators could also not be found, and it has been reported that leopards have not been spotted for several years.

Additionally, compasses and other electronic equipment are known to malfunction or go haywire on the mountain.

RECOMMENDED TRAVEL APPS

To make the most of your trip to Mount Nyangani, install the below two apps to conveniently take photo routes and measure the height for peaks in the surrounding area.
Peakvisor
Routes.Tips App
Happy travels,
The Routes.Tips Team

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