Leopard Rock Hotel
The Leopard Rock Hotel is the premier Bvumba hotel destination with an excellent golf course surrounded by spectacular mountain vistas.
Although the atmosphere has changed and it has become more of a corporate destination, like Troutbeck and Claremont hotels in Nyanga, with the obligatory casino; it has been less modernised and still has enough of the original flavour to make guests feel at ease in the natural forest surroundings and enjoy the change of being away from home.
Take the Bvumba Road through the Bvumba to its end at Leopard’s Rock Hotel, the route is well sign-posted from Mutare.
GPS reference: 19⁰7′56.76″S 32⁰46′54.06″E
Situated thirty kilometres from Mutare by tar road along a spectacular road through the Bvumba mountains, the Leopard Rock Hotel opened in 1946 with room for up to forty guests and was family-run by the Seymour-Smiths. The Queen Mother famously stayed in 1953 with Princess Margaret when its chief attractions were the invigoratingly cool climate and the forest clad slopes of the mountains.
In the 1990’s the hotel was expanded to accommodate up to 120 guests and what it lost as a family-run hotel it gained in being able to offer more varied activities.
The fifty-eight bedrooms looking out the front have views over the golf course, gardens and mountains; those at the back look over the forest, some have private balconies and courtyards. They all have Wi-Fi and internet access, room service, tea & coffee making facilities.
There are outstanding walks up the scree slopes of Chinyakwaremba, the Shona name for the hill behind the Leopard Rock Hotel in Vumba. It is often called Leopard Rock but this has become confused with the name of a large boulder at the foot of a cliff, where Castle Guesthouse is situated. Chinyakwaremba is within a private nature sanctuary and the path up is gentle and suited to people of all ages and fitness levels. The view from the summit on a clear day across to Lake Chicamba, in neighbouring Mozambique, is definitely worth the walk. Aloes and strelitzia grew here and wild proteas attract the sunbirds and sugarbirds.
The Peter Matkovich-designed, championship-rated course is considered one of the best in Africa and has some challenging holes with plenty of water hazards and ravines and the holes are well protected by bunkers with spectacular views across into Mocambique. The eighteen hole golf course is well-regarded by good players as challenging and for those who accompany the players it makes an enjoyable walk.
In addition to walking in the gardens, there is a small family friendly game park that stocks impala, zebra, kudu, eland, nyala, giraffe, bushbuck, wildebeest and the rare Samango Monkey and the Blue Duiker. Children will enjoy viewing from the raised platform and knowledgeable guides are available for walks in the forest which has an abundance of trees, plants and a very wide variety of birdlife.
Horse-riding by Sally Simleit takes place from the hotel at weekends through the game reserve. The Bvumba is renowned for its brilliant horse-riding trails through the indigenous forests from the hotel. The horses are well behaved and riding along these scenic paths makes for a memorable experience for both keen and inexperienced riders.
The hotel has a small casino with slot machines, blackjack and American Roulette for those that fancy their luck.