Domboshava is a place of strange, boldly rising mountains and deeply mystic and silent valleys, merged with the infinitely spreading calm vistas of savannah bushes and msasa forests. It is a land of long winding caves steeped in culture and beautiful rock art.
On a good day, the place resonates with the silence and mystic grandeur of the Matopos. Sometimes, while sitting on rock taking in the spectacular views, one can feel the cool soothing breeze lapping lazily like sea waves welcoming a ship into harbor. One of the best places to experience this feeling and the associated emotions is at Gomorembudzi.
Named for the goats that once upon a time roamed the Domboshava hills, Gomorembudzi offers visitors a chance to experience spectacular scenery in one of Zimbabwe’s most revered and sacred places. With the support of Chief Chinamora and the local people, the Pasichigare Holiday Leisure and Education Centre offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience Zimbabwe’s rich and diverse heritage.
The project, an ecological and cultural tourism initiative, initially revolved around the Gomorembuzi Cultural Village, named for the huge batholith next to the village and situated inside a sacred forest thick with mizhanje trees. Legend says when settlers first arrived at Domboshava they tried to cut the forest down. The forest immediately grew back. No matter how many times the trees were cut down, by the following morning the forest had regrown. The local people call this place “the enchanted forest that refuses to be farmed.”
Gomorembudzi Cultural Village is designed as a typical polygamy setup, with ten huts built in a simple and very typical traditional style. There is a traditional court in the middle of the village, a granary and a tortoise homestead that includes a female turtle, christened Ropafadzo.
Visitors to the village are able to enjoy an appetizing dish of African cuisine. Behind the village is the sculptor and botanical garden, perfect for weddings, workshops or conferences. The stone sculptors have blended so well with the nearby rocky landscape that when one sits on a wooden bench in the garden, the feeling of peace, solitude and contentment is overpowering. The topography is stunning and gives a clear indication of the majestic splendor of nature’s creativity.
A hike offers visitors the opportunity to experience the true natural beauty of this area. There is a seventy-metre long natural corridor, the granite walls rising to thirty metres in some places. After walking through the impressive natural stone walls there is a short climb to the top, where one is greeted by a lovely “world’s view”. This is Harare’s Matopos. The granite hills, the forest of indigenous trees, the birds and occasional bark of a baboon; it is easy to understand why this area holds so much spiritual significance for the Shona people, and how visitors experience the deep, contagious feeling of adventure. That feeling is enticing, and remains with people long after they have left Gomorembudzi.
A number of rock paintings, some dating back over six thousand years, are visible on the tours. Great care has been taken to ensure the preservation of this ancient art, some of which still bears the vibrant colours used by the artists all those centuries ago.
The Mwenda River flows through the valley of the same name, hiding under chaotically heaped granite rocks and boulders. The more experienced hikers will see the mystic caves and tunnels during the highly challenging and exciting Hidden River Tour. During the rainy season, the miniature waterfall becomes a thundering roar, clearly audible from Gomorembudzi Village. A climb up the nearby hill to view the sunrise will reveal a vision of mists and a rainbow, not unlike the views at Victoria Falls.
The spectacular eastern highlands view and caves similar to those at Chinhoyi are two more sights in the valley. All tours are conducted by expert guides with thorough knowledge of the area. Different tours are available, and can be tailored to suit specific requests and requirements. Packages offered include, mountain hiking, camping, picnics, walking safaris, beach volleyball, bush weddings and full moon viewing.
The magnificent indigenous tree forests are jealously guarded; as the backbone of Gomorembudzi Cultural Village, the sacred trees give the area an amazingly delightful atmosphere. The support of Chief Chinamora and his headmen means the wonderful forests are protected and preserved. Schoolchildren attending the heritage tours have the chance to meet Chief Chinamora, who takes them through the paces of the heritage studies.
The project is an arts, craft, cultural, conservation, research and education center. An education and heritage resource centre is being developed in an endeavor to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical learning. To date, several schools have benefited from the well-researched and relevant outdoor programs.
Children are the future, and the more they learn about our wonderful culture and heritage the more they will respect, understand and appreciate the need to conserve it for future generations.
By Tendai Cambalame.
Tendai Cambalame is a multi-media artist and founder executive director for Pasichigare Holiday, Leisure and Education Center. He has been writing articles for local radio, television and magazines for over twenty years. He runs motivational and life coaching programs for schools and organizations and mentors young writers and poets. He has worked as a script Writer at Studio 263 and co-authored local television sitcom “Up the Hill”. He is set designer for local cultural drama “Tiriparwendo”, and appears in the series. His poetry has featured in Parade and The Horizon magazines, and some have been broadcast on S FM (formerly Radio One).