The Mutarazi Falls, which are set a few kilometres south of the Pungwe Gorge, are the highest waterfalls in Zimbabwe, the second highest in Africa and 17th in the world (a 762 metre drop).
The Mutarazi Falls are located within the vastness of the Nyanga National Park.
The falls occur at a point where the Mutarazi River flows over the edge of the eastern escarpment of the country’s highlands.
Arriving there at a time just before the rains we were disappointed not to catch the falls in their full and brutal glory.
Although the Mutarazi River flows all year round and the waterfall is most impressive in the late summer period (February to April) when there is the greatest flow, getting here this time of the year (at the end of the short dry season) offered us an opportunity to get a real close-up experience of the Falls, to have a feel of the crystal clean waters, and to skip across the large rocks on which the speeding waters would normally have swept almost anything over the deep gorge.
The Mutarazi River meanders along a plateau and makes a double leap down a sheer rock face into the forested Honde Valley.
It is on the upper tier that – during the dry season – the traveller can stand the normal path of the water towards the dipping gorge and channel the spirit of the violent waters cascading into the valley below.
On the cliff that accommodates the Mutarazi Falls, there is a point called ‘Honde View’ where you can have a breath-taking aerial view of the entire Honde Valley, and the mountain ranges extending into neighbouring Mozambique.
The average altitude of Honde Valley is around 900 metres above sea-level as compared to its immediate surroundings which rise above 1 800m.
This abrupt drop in topography creates the spectacular Mutarazi and adjacent Muchururu Falls, stunning natural attractions.
At this point you can only stand in awe at the perfectness of nature in its seeming disorderliness and attribute it to the creative force of a higher entity.
The guide who took us around said the reaction was an all-too familiar one for first time visitors.
There are basically four strategic points where you can view the Mutarazi Falls and two points ideal for viewing the adjacent Muchururu Falls.
Oh, the Muchururu Falls. A bit more voluminous than the Mutarazi Falls, Muchururu Falls is just as amazing.
But then our tour guide makes things more interesting.
He says in its greatest flow certain points on the Muchururu Falls seem to spell out the word “ini.” He added that the word is most visible from the base of the valley and that any resident of the Honde Valley can testify to have seen it at some point or other.
“Ini” is shona vernacular for “me”. Hmmm, now who could that be?
Anyway, we will be back in the late summer period when the Falls are in their full element. We have to see this on our own.