Leopard Rock Hotel Eastern Highlands Zimbabwe
The Leopard Rock Hotel and Estate is situated 30 kilometers south-east of the city of Mutare, the capital city of Zimbabwe’s Manicaland Province, and can be reached by tar road out of Mutare through a spectacular route up into the Bvumba Mountains. Leopard Rock is more than a hotel; it is a welcoming and diverse holiday resort for travellers of all ages and backgrounds, as well as a superb conference and celebration venue, a golfers’ dream course and a nature lovers’ haven.
An accurate observation from a discerning and accomplished traveller – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who famously stayed at the hotel with her daughter, Princess Margaret, and was so taken with the hotel and its spectacular surroundings that she was inspired to pen these words for posterity. Leopard Rock is more than a hotel: it is a welcoming and diverse holiday resort for travellers of all ages and all backgrounds, as well as a superb conference and celebration venue, golfers’ dream course and nature lovers’ haven – with wildlife in the hotel’s own game sanctuary and a huge variety of birdlife, among which is a selection of unique species. The hotel has leisure
and entertainment aplenty – from satellite television reception in all bedrooms and suites to holiday supervision and outdoor arrangements for children, and from the hotel’s own casino to access to the many sights and attractions of the surrounding Eastern Highlands. Whether you like to curl up in front of a winter fire with a good book or take walks and runs across the mountainous terrain, or whether you’re here for business, sport or a vacation, the warmest of welcomes awaits every guest. and the team at Leopard Rock looks forward to hosting you again and again as you enjoy the variety, beauty and spectacle of ‘the mountains of the mist’ as they are known locally.
Leopard Rock Hotel was built and opened by the Seymour-Smiths, a well-known local family who decided after the Second World War that a need existed for a holiday hotel at the top of the Bvumba Mountains.
The hotel was opened in 1946 and offered accommodation for up to 40 guests, reached by travelling up a gravel road which climbed hundreds of metres from Mutare and wound through the mountainsides. A simple but amusing nine-hole golf course was built on the hotel’s estate and the hotel promoted itself as a venue for people who enjoyed the invigorating climate and communing with nature. In 1953, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, famously stayed at the hotel with her daughter, Princess Margaret, and was so taken with the hotel and its spectacular surroundings that she was inspired to pen these words for posterity; “There is nowhere more beautiful in Africa”
Leopard Rock Hotel was then purchased by the Taberer family in the 1990s and a major expansion project was undertaken, which saw the construction of a new bedroom block –increasing the number of available rooms and suites to accommodate 120 guests. And so was born the Leopard Rock hotel we know today; boasting one of the continent’s best golf courses, a casino, a conference venue and a game sanctuary. The hotel is now owned and operated by Cambria Africa plc previously Lonzim.
Over the years the hotel has hosted royalty, statesmen, sporting and film personalities, business leaders and various other celebrities from across the world. It has also won many accolades, including awards for accommodation, cuisine, wine lists and service. In 2011 and 2012, the hotel was named Best Resort Hotel in Zimbabwe by the Association of Zimbabwean Travel Agents in their respected annual awards event. In 2013, CNN Travel named the Leopard Rock golf course one of Africa’s 10 best golf courses.
Horse Back Safaris
It is a truly exhilarating experience to ride through the African bush, it kind of transcends one back in time to the pioneer days. It’s quiet and peaceful and you feel at one with nature. In a vehicle, you are remote from the excitement around you; on horseback your senses come alive. The combination of riding and game viewing makes for a unique and unforgettable experience.
What better place can you think of for an African Horse Safari than the Zambezi River valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty, with such a diversity of habitats from from the magnificent Zambezi River, to rugged mopane woodland and the endless dunes of Kalahari sand teak forest.
Wildlife is plentiful, depending on the season you may see elephant, buffalo, kudu, bushbuck, impala, warthog, and waterbuck. Hippo, crocodile and cape clawless otters may also be spotted. Your experienced guides will also teach you the flora and fauna of the area, basic principles of tracking, and aspects of traditional village life.
About Horse Back Safaris
Novice ride or Experienced Ride
2- 2 1/2 hours riding, 3 hours turnaround time, or more
Long experienced ride (mornings only)
4 hours riding, 4 1/2 hours or more turnaround time
Morning: 5.30 -6.30 am summer**, 7.00 winter afternoon: 3.30 summer, 3.00pm winter
**We may start earlier in very hot weather. Please check on booking
Full day ride (mornings only)
6 hours riding. about 8 hour’s turnaround time.
Starting times: 5.30 – 7.00am depending on the time of the year (earlier if it is very hot!)
No previous experience is required for Novice rides.
Clients booking experienced rides must meet the following requirements:
If you wish to book an experienced ride, or a full day or multiday trip you must be able to ride unassisted and with confidence. At minimum you should have mastered basic aids, be able to do a rising trot for stretches of at least 10 minutes at a time, be comfortable at all paces and able to gallop out of trouble, even at the end of a long days ride
If you are doing a multiday safari you should be capable of doing all of the above and be riding fit. The more proficient and fitter you are, the more you will enjoy your trip. Unfit, inexperienced riders riding for long stretches of time are a danger to themselves, others, and their horse!
Maximum weight limit is 90kg (14 1/2 Stones or 200lbs).
Although we have MARS cover, this only deals with evacuation to the nearest appropriate medical facility. Beyond that full Medical Insurance is required and details must be submitted prior to your arrival. Please check whether your insurance covers you for riding without a helmet, should you wish to do so.
Qualified, licensed guides lead all rides, and are accompanied by a back up rider. Both are dedicated, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. A keen interest is taken in the environment as well as the flora and fauna of the area. You will also learn many of the traditional uses of plants and trees, basic principles of tracking, and aspects of traditional village life.
All guides and back up riders are well trained – we send extra as necessary. Each ride starts with a safety talk, and you will be reminded of this should circumstances require. Our rides are conducted with the aim of disturbing wildlife as little as possible and the paced of the ride and method of approach is regulated accordingly.
We use mainly Australian Stock saddles, although English saddles are available. All horses go in snaffle bridles.
We are very proud of our horses! Mostly thoroughbred, some mixed, some Anglo Arabs. Between 14 – 16.2hh. They vary from gentle hacks to my top polocrosse ponies. It depends on you!
Size of Rides
Minimum two on longer rides and maximum of six to eight clients at the moment. We do split larger groups into two groups of 4 if possible.
Game is plentiful in the National Park surrounding the stables and the Zambezi River area. Depending on the season you may see elephant, buffalo, kudu, bushbuck, impala, warthog, and waterbuck. Hippo, crocodile and cape clawless otters may also be spotted. There are several resident leopard.
But remember, no game is guaranteed. This is more about riding a good horse in an amazing area, not a checklist safari!
You should wear:
Dull coloured clothing – no white or bright colours;
bush shirt or t shirt with a short sleeve to protect your shoulders.
trainers or walking shoes.
A peaked cap to wear under your helmet, or a sunhat
We have a limited range of half chaps, jodhpurs trousers and shirts available for loan for those of you who arrive unprepared, or without luggage.
We strongly advise you to wear one. They are obligatory for novice riders and children. We have a limited range at the stables but these are for loan to clients on half day rides only. If you are doing a multiday ride or booking any ride in advance, you must bring your own. It’s safer.
Spectacular views, a bracing climate and 18 challenging holes on this Peter Matkovich-designed, championship-rated course named one of Africa’s Top 10 by CNN Travel (2013) make this one of the finest golfing venues you’ll ever
The Famous Holes
Spectacular views, a bracing climate and 18 challenging holes on this Peter Matkovich-designed, championship-rated course named one of Africa’s Top 10 by CNN Travel (2013) make this one of the most spectacular golfing venues you’ll ever play.