Three months on from the cyclone of March 2019, the destruction was clear.
Giant stone boulders and clumps of wet clay lay piled up at the roadside as our overland truck snaked slowly up the mountain.
Nearing the campsite, we passed hundreds of international aid tents where families were stuck in limbo waiting for their new homes to be built.
Entire villages were left abandoned where brick and mud houses were ripped apart and gardens were clawed open.
The deadly current dragged trees and rocks down the mountain side, tearing through windows, dismantling tin roofs and wiping out everything in its path.
It was clear the cyclone had rocked the community but it had not broken its spirit.
The people here are kind and friendly. They still smile as you pass and wave at us from the road. There is a sense of togetherness and a shared strength.
“Life is life and life must go on“ I was told by an employee at Heavens Lodge, where half a dozen men are working to rebuild the campsite.
Despite feeling heavily saddened by the devastation around us, we were humbled to be welcomed into the Chimanimani community and explore its extraordinary landscapes.
The six hikers of our group, myself included, set off at 9am for Greenmount for the ultimate hiking experience.
Rather than taking the tarmac road, we decided to follow the stream to the top, retracing the cyclone’s path.
It was one of the most challenging hikes I have done to date and certainly the most sentimental. We scaled the mountain, gripping onto the remnants of its slopes.
The hillside had been defaced with deep gorges and new cliffs, where clay boulders crumbled under our feet as we struggled to climb.
As we neared the top, the ground became less stable and we hugged the slopes for safety, shouting down to one another at falling rocks.
As we popped our heads over it’s peak, we released a sigh of relief and collapsed onto our backs taking in the epic scenery – a panoramic view of the valley and mountains on the Mozambique border.
The ground was now firm as we traversed sweeping meadows and through the long dry grass. We sprawled across rocks, ran down hills and stood staring at the views.
For the return journey we opted for a well used trail with more sturdy footing and wound through tall evergreen trees to Chimanimani village.
It was as I would expect US national parks to be, with bold mountains, tall trees and rich colours.
My time in Chimanimani was hands down in my top three experiences during my Oasis overland trip through east and southern Africa.
For more information and specifics on Chimanimani hikes and waterfall tours, click here.
Thanks for joining in the adventure ❤