Skeleton Pass - Chimanimani Mountains - Zimbabwe
Researching some places to go to in Zimbabwe I found an easily accessible national park just south of Mutare. The Chimanimani Mountains and the skeleton pass.
Once in Chimanimani village, I spent the first day doing almost nothing. The long bus ride in Mozambique wiped me out. At nearly 48 and after 28 months on the road, I am in serious need of having a FULL BODY SERVICE, you know, like a car needs once in a while. Think detox, massage, scrub and a week of being in a dark sound proofed room.
I hadn't been hiking since Georgia, last September. To make it easier on myself I took less than I would normally have done. Leaving all superfluous items back at Heaven Lodge I took just my day pack with jeans and t shirt and rain jacket, Crocs and camera. I'd gotten rice with beans and veg at Maria Restaurant the day before, put in a container with some bread, tinned fish, beans, corned beef and cheese from 1 of the village stores.
Happy - alone in the mountains.
From the end of the road at Mutekeswani Base Camp @1250m, I scrambled up the hillside before crossing a plain before descending slightly to the MOUNTAIN HUT @1740m where I would overnight. I dumped my food and clothing and set off for The Skeleton Pass. gps: S 19.761229, E 33.035224
Looking across from The Mountain Hut. Skeleton Pass is just out of sight, across the grassy plain and to the right
The 'skeleton pass', a former guerrilla route between Zimbabwe and Mozambique
So named because way back when when gold prospectors were up there in droves, a skeleton was found on the pass.
In the 60s and 70s, rebels opposed to Ian Smith's Rhodesia, were given freedom to base them selves over the border in Mozambique (also in Zambia, then called Northern Rhodesia) and send raiding parties across the mountains to hit government forces.
This clandestine route over the mountains is what appealed to my very nature.
From the top of the Skeleton Pass looking across Mozambique. The single wooden stake marks the border.
At the bottom of the pass, I met the rangers who would stay up there for 15 days before being relieved by the next shift. 3 guys together in a hut not much bigger than a garden shed. They are there for visitors safety and to deter those who come to pan the rivers. The final 300 trackless meters to the top, quite unspectacular if you ask me until treated to the awesome view into Mozambique. The border marked by a single wooden stake.
The weather had turned so I did not linger. 40minutes later I was back in the Mountain Hut.
Into dry clothing, bed prepared, fire readied, I ate my food, re hydrated and read til darkness came. After a few false starts, I got the fire going and enjoyed my lonesome evening.
I was a 40 minute walk from the nearest human contact, when was I or you so far from another person?
The view next morning from the huts balcony. Heavy squalls running thru. Was a wet walk down.