15 June 2012

Zimbabwe: Tourism Matrix - Osborne Holds Its Own As a Holiday Paradise

In defiance of the typical geomorphology of the Eastern Highlands of rolling moorlands, high altitude heath, trout-filled sparkling river waters and lush green undulating slopes, lies a resort of different stamina -- the Osborne Dam Recreational Park.

The dam, the biggest in Manicaland on the western foot of Mount Jenya, in Mutasa communal lands, is a scenic gem and a tourist attraction that can hold its own.

Its environs offer a break from the chilly temperatures of the region, underpinned by a characteristic lakeshore breeze blowing westerly and famed for blowing away mosquitoes and averting malaria.

The winds also systematically manufacture waves that make boating in the dam spectacular.

A rest camp with self-catering lodges is located at a vantage point overlooking the lake.

The large camping site can accommodate 300 campers and has braai facilities, electric points distributed at every other site and are an ideal location for fishing and boating tournaments. One of the most popular activities is fishing.

Bassmasters societies view this dam as potential record catch territory. Anglers will most certainly enjoy this experience in the generally cool environs.

On the other hand, the vast water body gives boating enthusiasts an expansive area to race or just cruise around.

There is birding too. This is an increasingly popular activity as the park has become home to a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial birds.

For those who love walking safaris, walking paths along the dam wall and around the shores, down the Odzi River and in the nearby Mt Jenya provide a wide range of scenery for trail enthusiasts.

There is a 102-kilometre drive around the lake that includes access to several of the nearby rural areas.

While pony rides around the lakeshore can be arranged with the tourist office.

Others enjoy windsurfing as there are ideal conditions with a steady western breeze. Beautiful inlets and waterways for the canoe enthusiast are also there.

Osborne Dam is an earth embankment dam that created a reservoir with a surface area of 2 600 hectares and storing 400 000 megalitres on the Odzi River, a tributary of the great Save River.

The spillway is the "drop inlet" type with a crest radius of 15,7 metres, a 6-metre diameter shaft and conduit conveys the overflow to the flip bucket.

The lake stretches for 16km up to the Odzi River and 15km along its Nyatande tributary. The lake is over six kilometres wide and 66 metres deep.

The area has a moderate climate with an average temperature of 24 degrees Celsius.

The catchment area of 2 400 square km stretches up to the source of the Odzi River in the high rainfall area just south of Juliasdale.

The construction was financed with aid from the Italian government, the main contractor was Salini Costuttori SpA, with local subcontractors KW Blasting doing tunnelling and hard excavation.

The dam is operated to supply water to irrigation schemes in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts.

For those in love with outdoor life, Osborne Recreational Park, run by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, is the place to be. The recreational park can be accessed from Nyanga, Rusape and Mutare by any type vehicle.

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