The Vumba Botanical Gardens and Reserve, located 32 kilometres from Mutare, are established on a portion of the farm formerly known as Manchester.
The nucleus of the combined area was bought by Government from Mr. F.J. Taylor in 1957 and was proclaimed a National Park in 1958. In 1960, the name of the Gardens was changed to Vumba National Park and again in 1975 to the present Vumba Botanical Garden.
Manchester Farm, situated in the Vumba Mountains, was initially bought in 1926 by the late Mr. F.J. Taylor, a Mutare businessman who at one time was the Mayor of Umtali (now Mutare). He developed it as a weekend proposition and his wife started a garden by removing the raw bush, but preserving the indigenous trees. In 1940, shortly before he retired from business, Mr. Taylor built a dam on the farm. Mrs. Taylor soon converted it to cover about 1.5 hectares. Friends and casual visitors enthused over the Taylor's garden and persuaded them to open it to the public.
Known as Manchester Park then, the Gardens became a tourist attraction and were visited by many thousands during and after World War II. Today several thousand people visit the Gardens annually from every corner of the globe.
On Mrs. Taylor's death in 1954, her husband continued maintaining the Gardens although he had been crippled with arthritis. With the passage of time, he realised that the task was beyond him and he therefore agreed to sell 201 ha of Manchester Park, the remnant of the original Manchester Farm, to the Government. Of the 201 hectares, 42 hectares have been declared a Botanical Reserve and the other 159 hectares a Botanical Garden.
Flora and Fauna
The well-wooded Park includes 159 hectares of landscaped gardens built around perennial streams which form a small lake. Sheltered walks between indigenous fern trees lead to displays of banked hydrangeas, proteas and azaleas, begonias, lilies, aloes, fuchsias, cycads and many other species.
A network of footpaths that enable visitors to explore the interior of the Botanical Reserve has been opened. The Reserve is well endowed with indigenous orchids and ferns. In the Botanical Garden there are sheltered walks between the stately indigenous tree ferns and azaleas. Strategically positioned flower beds are encountered as one leisurely takes stock of the Gardens. A superb collection of both the winter/spring and summer flowering varieties has been assembled for the visitors' enjoyment throughout the year. To complement the annuals, an herb garden, some roses, proteas, fuchsias, cycads, tea bushes, aloes, camellia, and palm sections have been set up.
The birdlife around the Garden and in the Reserve attracts a number of visitors. Several species of birds can be recorded whilst strolling along the many footpaths. Also found in large numbers is the Samango monkey which is endemic to the Eastern Highlands.
The self-catering lodges in the Garden are very popular with visitors to the area.
A camp site with ablution blocks with hot and cold water systems is available in the Garden.
The caravan sites with beautiful panoramic views and electric power points also have water borne sanitation.
A tea room offering refreshments is found in the middle of the Gardens. The shop is open daily weather permitting. Light meals can also be provided on request including cakes and vegetarian dishes.
The swimming pool is located by the camping site.
At nearby hotels, a number of activities can also be carried out. Provisions can be found from the nearby shops or hotels in the vicinity. The Leopard Rock, one of Zimbabwe's finest hotels provides riding, golfing, tennis and other holiday activities.
Attractions & Activities
Why Visist Vumba?
How to get to Vumba Botanical & Reserve
The road winds up through steep mountains, heavily clothed with Msasa trees, which present a brilliant tapestry of reds, yellows and rich olive greens in the Zimbabwean spring. The road from Mutare is tarred as far as Cloudlands, 17,7 kilometres from Mutare. At Cloudlands, you turn right on to a gravel road then travel for about 15 kilometres to the Park.