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Trail 1. Pepper Garden Trail.
This is a (relatively) short walk, and takes you through some of the nearest rain forest, to the pepper gardens and fish ponds. Allow about two and a quarter hours walking time. You leave the club either along the drive or down the first two fairways on the golf course, and then turn right and cross the river - the Nyamkombe. Immediately after crossing the river, turn left and walk alongside the gum trees to the first green you come to. You are actually walking against the "flow" of the golf course here. Go around behind the green and cross the bridge over the small stream, bearing left. Take the plucking path in the middle of the tea field in front of you marked with an arrow to trail 1 just by the 6th tee, running parallel to the river. You zig-zag through the tea to the river, and follow it upstream. You cross a fallen tree, and a couple of hundred metres further on the path takes you into the forest and the Gleneagles Reserve. Now you follow the path which meanders along the river, crossing it three times on rather rickety bridges - just before the last of these bridges there is a turn to the right - ignore this. Cross the bridge, and you have reached the pepper garden, and if it is a working day you should see some workers around; if the Manager Edison Tombo is there, he will be delighted to explain what we are doing here. The crop is grown organically, and you may be interested in the nitrogen fixing plants and the natural insecticide plants among the pepper. At the back of the garden you can see some experimental fish breeding ponds. From here follow the road away from the pepper garden, and you may see Samango monkeys which abound in these woods and the occasional Giant Forest Squirrel. You then come to one of the two Tea Estate Junior Schools. Here you have a choice. You can either take a short-cut down a fairly steep path to the Club, starting on the far side of the little play ground. Or keep right and follow the road until the next intersection, and here turn left going downhill. The road zig-zags to the bottom of the hill where it joins the main road to the Club fifty metres from the drive.
Trail 4. Nyawamba Pool and Rain Forest Trail.
A shorter walk to a lovely pool in the Nyawamba river where you can pic-nic and bathe. This is in a protected low altitude rainforest area, one of the very few left in the country, and with its towering Forest Newtonia, Maranthes and Xylopia, abundant ferns and tree orchids it is well worth a trip. Take your car and drive to Canaan compound in West Division. To get there you turn left at the end of the Club drive, go right up and over the hill, past the tea factory and turn hard right just below it. You follow this road, bearing right all the time, and eventually you pass the drive to "Sathi's" house which turns left. Keep on down the hill into the Nyawamba valley, and at the bottom turn right in front of the compound (don't cross the river) and drive to the top of it, round the back. Park off the road and follow the path (signed) to the pool. This takes you first through the tea parallel to the river. The path then leads into the forest where you enter the Gleneagles Mountain Reserve. The whole walk is only about 15 to 20 minutes from the road. While in this area it is well worth having a look at the large rock slide over which the river plunges below the bridge at the bottom of Canaan village.
In the interests of safety it is a requirement of Gleneagles Mountain Reserve that all visitors except those with special permits or people following these notes for trails 1 and 4 only should take a guide. These guides are NOT qualified National Parks guides, but they are locals and do know the area well. The hills forests and mountains may look tame but it is easy to get lost!
Trail 2. Domwe forest and the Nyamkombe Valley Trail.
This is a longer hike, and you have to take a guide. You start off as with trail 1, but it then goes much higher up the mountain, following the Nyamkombe valley ridge through the Domwe forest, and then back down into the valley crossing the Nyamkombe River (difficult in the rains). You come through the forest to the pepper garden and back to the Club. There are a number of variations to this walk, and depending on which you chose, you must allow from four to six hours.
Trail 3. The Dzunzwa Hike.
You can if you wish drive the first part of this trail, which is strenuous. Again there are a number of variations, but the essential theme is to climb "Dzunzwa", the mountain which rises high above the tea factory and clinic, and visit the Nyawamba Falls in the centre of the Gleneagles Mountain Reserve. There are a number of pit structures, remains of ancient fortifications and some terracing in the area. You can come back the way you came, or descend either to Canaan village (see trail 4 above) or round the head of the Nyamankwangwara Valley and back through the Pepper Garden. This is a full day's very strenuous trip and should only be undertaken if you are really fit.
Trail 5. Tsoro peak, views and pit structures.
Most of this can, if you prefer, be done in a Land Rover (book in advance). Otherwise it is a full day's excursion. The main attractions of this trip are the fantastic views, the bird life, a small pocket of primeval forest on the way up, and a remarkably well preserved pit structure near a small community of families who have lived in and around this area for generations. The views over the forests, tea estates and the Honde Valley to the south are remarkable, as are those from Tsoro Peak from where you can see Mozambique to the east - Gorongoza Mountain can be seen on a clear day, as well as an extraordinary sugarloaf type mountain rising out of the Mozambique plain, called Mapanda. Don't miss the ancient Tsoro Board carved into a granite boulder in an ancient lookout fortification at the top of this peak, which is on the boundary between Gleneagles and Nyanga National Parks. You will probably want to come back down a steep path on the eastern side of the Domwe ridge which comes out on Aberfoyle's North Division. Unless of course you are in a Land Rover.
PLEASE DO NOT PICK OR REMOVE ANYTHING FROM GLENEAGLES MOUNTAIN RESERVE.
Gleneagles accepts no responsibility, express or implied, for any loss, injury or other mishap however incurred.Top