TILBURY Road is busy with small and huge vehicles which move up and down as they try to connect areas such as Charleswood, The Outward Bound and Dhombera. Just a few minutes from the Tilbury turn-off is a place called The Farmhouse.
As we enter the farm, we are greeted by sounds of livestock. The farm is home to horses, sheep, geese, guinea pigs, chickens and cows but the geese are the ones making the most sounds. Our guide, Mildred, informs us that the birds are having young ones.
Mildred introduces to us that the premises is owned by Doug and Tempe van de Ruit who saw the need for people to experience a relaxing and tranquility environment free from industrial and urban clatter and pollution.
Mildred takes us to the horses. The place boasts of five well-trained and beautiful ponies whose horse-riding expeditions can be done in the vast farm as well as in the Chimanimani vicinity. The animals are healthy and lovely. But the farm is more than a place for horse riding.
We then go to the main structure on the farm. It is called The Farmhouse. The building is so vast boasting of rooms that can accommodate 8 people in 2 double beds and 4 singles. It is fully equipped for self-catering. Mildred is always available on sight to clean on request.
She then takes us to Penny’s Palace. It comprises of a 2 roomed cottage next door to the farmhouse. It is nested away in the lovely garden on a dairy plot.
From Penny’s Palace, we head for the campsite. Mildred outlines that the idea of the campsite was motivated by guests who used to park on the lawn of the Farmhouse under the huge mahogany tree and were sharing the outdoor shower and toilet of the Farmhouse. Now, they can camp at Peneff’s old workshop in the bottom paddock.
The campsite area is fenced to keep cows, horses and sheep off. There is a shower built with a solar geyser and a toilet, a lock up room and a double sink for washing up. There is an eating area under the roof with benches and a table and a braai stand.
There is also a fire brick plinth on which to make a fire to sit around. And of course, there is a stunning view of the mountains.
We round up our Farmhouse visit. We then head for Famba Famba, which is also under the van de Ruit management. The facility was adapted into a B&B when Doug’s father, Hennie van de Ruit, died in March 2022.
The van de Ruit family sorted out his old house along Tilbury Road to become a B&B. Famba Famba is translated to “Walk Walk” in Shona language. The named was derived from Chimanimani as the finest walking destination in Zimbabwe.
We are told that upon request, tourists are served with a full English breakfast which is served on the veranda with a glorious view of the mountains. Like the Farmhouse, Famba Famba is fully equipped for self-catering.
It has four bedrooms, two in the main stone house and two in the wooden extension which has its own shower and toilet. Like the Farmhouse it sleeps eight but counting two in the double bed.
We wind up our visit to the Farmhouse and Famba Famba. It has been a pleasant tour which gives us a feel that the two places are a perfect gateway to Chimanimani.