ENDURO ROUTE - SECTION ONE
After a long drive to the lowest point in Zimbabwe near the confluence of the Save and Runde rivers, participants camp the first night close to the Save River at the Jamanda Community Camp which is just across the river from the wild and unspoilt Gonarezhou National Park. The Blue Cross will meet the cost of one night at Jamanda CC for participants and their back up crews but the local community raises a camping fee of US$10pppn for any other nights, For those who would like to indulge themselves, luxury rooms and comfortable, self-catering accommodation is available at the nearby Chilo Gorge Lodge.
Although the total route has been divided up into sections, the Enduro riders are free to travel whatever distance they choose in a day. Section 1 measures 168 kms from the start point at Mahenye to Fiddlers Green Polocrosse Club near Chipinge. This section traverses through less affluent communal area, close to the international border with Mozambique, and is characterised by black cotton soils.
Gradients along the first 75 kms are benign but there are a number of gullies and washaways to be negotiated, as well as some exciting off road sections which add spice to the route.
42 kms from the start participants are confronted with a gully named "Obstacle". Riders will be able to ramp through it but it is now impassable to any back up vehicles which must carefully follow the 900m cyan track named "Obstacle Veh Detour" to circumnavigate the gully. 30 kms further on, a deadly hazard for vehicles is reached when the narrow track is sandwiched between a robust crop fence on the one side and a 3m deep gully with sheer sides on the other. Please exercise extreme caution here.
Beyond the 75 km mark the terrain becomes more rugged and the gradients slightly more stony and demanding. As the 100 km mark approaches, the route descends steeply to Mwangazi Village where it strikes eastwards through the Mwangazi Gap on a road less traveled. The reason for that becomes apparent at the 104 km mark where the Musirizwi Bridge has been completely washed away. A rocky causeway suffices for the determined traveler but the approaches are overgrown and the road is now little more than a footpath.
Beyond the Musirizwi, the road eventually becomes better defined and there are some exquisite pieces of country as the route follows the watershed between the Musirizwi and the Bwazi Rivers.
For the next 32 kms the route climbs steadily through a mix of communal and resettled areas until taking a left turn off the beaten track at the 136 km mark. The climb continues on some rough farm tracks through nondescript, resettlement farmland, reaching the highest point of the section (1185m) at the 152 km mark.
The final 16 kms of the section take riders across to the east of the Mt Selinda road and through the well tended orchards of the Makandi Estate to the imposing Fiddlers Green Polocrosse Clubhouse at the 168 km mark and 968m AMSL. See our Overnight Stops page if you wish to take a break at Fiddlers.
SECTION ONE : Mahenye to Fiddlers Green: 168 kms
Section 1: 168 kms
Elevation Profile: Section 1: 168 kms
ENDURO ROUTE - SECTION TWO
SECTION TWO: Fiddlers Green to Chimanimani: 100 kms
Section 2 measures 100 kms from the start point at Fiddlers Green Polocrosse Club to the village of Chimanimani.
From Fiddlers Green (969m AMSL) the route ascends gradually northwards through farmland and orchards to join the broken and potholed tar of the Junction Gate Road where it turns east at the 7 km mark.
Over the next 14 kms the tar gives way to dirt as the route winds through abandoned tea fields before climbing up to the western boundary of Tanganda Tea Estates (996m AMSL). 2 kms later the Eastern Border Road is reached and the route makes a short dog leg to the right before turning left and descending north east through the tea fields.
At Tanganda's eastern boundary, the road deteriorates markedly, and, for the next 10 kms, the route descends through increasingly rough country before climbing steeply to the crest (841m) of the mountain range that lies to the south of the Rusitu Valley. Magnificent views of the southern end of the Chimanimani Range reward riders as they begin the long and exhilarating descent to the Rusitu crossing (505m and 40kms from Fiddler's). The descent passes through banana plantations and orchards in a series of switchbacks requiring riders to exercise great care to avoid numerous vehicles, goats, cattle and children.
Once across the new bridge, the route joins the Rusitu access road and turns right across the Nyahode River. The newly completed Chinese high-level Bridge over the Nyahode was swept away during Cyclone Idai in 2019. Riders will be struck by the area's utter devastation as a consequence of both the cyclone and the uncontrolled gold panning up one of the Nyahode's tributaries.
For the next 15 kms, the road climbs continuously through more banana plantations, eventually crossing the boundary from the communal area into Tarka Forest Estates at an altitude of 1000m. Road conditions within the estate are likely to have been seriously affected by a combination of Cyclone Idai in 2019 and gold panning activities which have lead to large scale environmental degradation. One of the highlights of this section is the view southwards over the Rusitu River valley from the knife edge firebreak (1219m) on the south eastern corner of Tarka Estate.
From there, the road descends for the next 4 kms to a river crossing at 915m where there is more evidence of the terrible effects of gold panning. The next 18 kms along the main road through the forest estate vary from reasonable to very poor as the route climbs past the Chisengu Sawmill to the highest point of the section (1588m AMSL) at the 74.7km mark from Fiddler's.
The final 25 kms into Chimanimani see the route circumnavigating the Green Mount range via the Orange Grove road to enter Chimanimani village along the tar road linking it to the National Park and the Chimanimani Range.
For those wishing to overnight in Chimanimani, there are various self-catering and bed and breakfast options. These include The Frog and Fern, The Farmhouse, Kweza Lodge and the popular lodge, HEAVEN, where there is a restaurant and pub. If you have time to spare, a visit to the stunningly beautiful Bridal Veil Falls is well worth it. See the Overnight Stops page.
Section 2: 96.1 kms
The very best of the Junction Gate Road!
Elevation Profile: Section 2: 100 kms
ENDURO ROUTE - SECTION THREE
SECTION THREE : Chimanimani to Mutambara Mission: 72.8 kms
Section 3 measures 72,8 kms from the start point near the Chimanimani Hotel to Mutambara Mission on the tar road between Cashel Village and Wengezi Junction.
The section begins with a gentle 20 km descent along the Chimanimani - Cashel road with stunning views of the Chimanimani Mountain Range, Masapa's Gap and The Corner. From the Chikukwa turn off, the road begins to climb towards the shoulder of Groenkop Mountain which it ascends in a series of switchbacks, climbing almost 300 vertical metres over the 11 km stretch. The views looking back from Groenkop Mountain towards The Corner are amongst the most breathtaking of the Blue Cross.
Once on the plateau, the next 10 kms offer more spectacular views as the road winds along the contour towards the iconic Tank Nek, reaching the highest point of the section (1807m) at the 41 km mark. That said, the dust along the Cashel Scenic road can be very powdery, often concealing rocks underneath the layer, and caution is recommended. The last 20 kms through forest and communal area into the village of Cashel are virtually all downhill although the road is stony, powdery and somewhat hazardous in places. Keep an eye out for the spectacular Tandai Falls away to the left of the road just beyond the the Timber Estate boom gate. From Cashel the route follows the tar road westwards for 11 kms to the Mutambara Mission.
Section 4 measures 88,6 kms from the start point where a sandy track turns northwards just beyond the Mission, to the clubhouse at Hillside Golf Club in Mutare.
The first 5 kms take riders through communal area to join the Whitewaters road at a sharp left turn. After passing through a short but rugged gorge, the route breaks out into the highly productive Muwengezi Valley before quite unexpectedly entering a beautiful and unpopulated tract of kopjes and miombo woodland at the 10 km mark.
8 kms later, the route exits the miombo woodland heading north north west back into communal area, although the hard sandveld tracks and spectacular kopjes make for some pleasurable riding. 24 kms from the start of the section, the route leaves the well-defined road to circumnavigate a large granite mountain and head east.
From the 28 km mark, the route follows a series of poorly maintained back roads in a northerly direction through the communal area to intersect with the Burma Valley tar road at the 60 km mark. The last 28 kms to the Hillside Golf Club in Mutare offer easy going along the main tar road.
The Mutare SPCA has arranged for Blue Cross participants to camp at the Hillside Golf Club, where they can make use of the showers, toilets etc. A meal can be ordered, and, Covid permitting, the bar stocks will be more than equal to the combined thirsts of all but an army of riders.
For those looking to spoil themselves, there are numerous other options for places to stay in Mutare, including a number of BnB’s and hotels. Contact us for more info, and see our OVERNIGHT STOPS page.
The Chimanimani Range from the Cashel Road
ENDURO ROUTE - SECTION FOUR
SECTION FOUR : Mutambara to Hillside Golf Club
Section 3:72.8 kms
Elevation Profile: Section 3:72.8 kms
Section 4: 88.6 kms
The Whitewaters Road
Elevation Profile: Section 4: 88.6 kms
ENDURO ROUTE - SECTION FIVE
Section 5 measures 89.6 kms from the start point at the Hillside Golf Club (HGC) to Bonda Mission on the tar road between Mutasa Administrative Centre and London Garage.
The section begins with the climb over Christmas Pass to the Nyanga turn off, and then 7.4 kms along the tar road towards Nyanga. At the 17,2 km mark from the start, the route turns left off the main road at Lamour Store. 5 kms along the broken tar, the route turns north along a dirt track through resettled farmland.
After a few more turns through more farmland, the route reaches the foot of the steepest gradient of the day at the 36 km mark. At the top of the rise, riders are greeted by one of the most spectacular views of the Blue Cross as they gaze down through the mountains at Osborne Dam in the distance.
An exhilarating descent takes participants down to and along the eastern side of the dam, until the route veers away to the north east at the 50 km mark. After several short ascents and descents over the next 8 kms riders arrive at the Odzi high-level bridge offering a useful spot for a break on the river bank below the bridge.
Several ascents and descents over the next 7 kms take riders through more granite whalebacks to the Nyadiri River which signals the start of steeper gradients, ultimately reaching the 'Bonda Bump', a rough and unrelenting 17 km climb to the Bonda Mission access road.
Riders turn left onto the rather potholed Bonda road and proceed along the tar for just over 3 kms before turning right onto the Chamakohwa road immediately before Bonda Mission. That turn off is easily missed and careful navigation is indicated.
SECTION FIVE : HGC to Bonda Mission: 89.6 kms
Osborne's granite whalebacks
ENDURO ROUTE - SECTION SIX
SECTION 6: Bonda to Nyangani: 47.4 kms
Section 6 measures 47.4 kms from the start point at Bonda Mission to the Nyangani Car Park.
The Chamakohwa road from Bonda to Juliasdale climbs steeply for the first 5 kms through several smallholdings, and the first 11 kms of the section sees a net height gain of 300 metres before the main Rusape to Juliasdale road is reached.
Turning right onto the main road takes riders through Juliasdale village and the Montclair hotel, reputed to offer the best toasted sandwiches for those with time to spare for a snack. A few kms north of the village, the route takes a turn to the right onto the Placefell Road which passes the turn off to the renowned Claremont Golf Club.
The road is rough and poorly maintained along the 16 kms to the National Parks private road which runs from Rhodes Hotel to the start of the Circular Drive at the Mare Dam turn off. On reaching the Mare Dam turn off, riders proceed straight on, taking the northern loop of the Circular Drive.
The final 10 kms to the Nyangani Car Park can be rough and stony but riders are treated to some great views and much picturesque scenery with a good chance of spotting herds of zebra and wildebeest along the way.
As always, the last pitch to the Car Park and the enthusiastic welcome from the Blue Cross Team and 0thers gathered at the finish line make for some deep emotions and abiding memories.
Riders will be able to dust themselves down and tuck into a some tea or coffee and a well-deserved egg and bacon or boerwors roll, courtesy of the SPCA's catering team.
Then it is time to enjoy the camaraderie of the occasion as wave after wave of participants slog their last few metres to the chequered flag.
Circular Drive: North Loop
ENDURO ROUTE - SUMMIT DAY
Section Seven - Nyangani Summit
ALL participants return to the car park by 0800, to summit Nyangani Mountain. For Covid compliance we ask that only participants climb, and do so in their teams or small, informal groups, to limit interaction.
Successful soloists are signed into the Blue Book by a Blue Cross official at the summit while relay participants are signed into the Brown (Little) Book. Again, for Covid reasons, we ask that all participants limit their dwell time on the summit to a minimum - just sufficient for a quick photo before they head back down.
After reaching the Car Park, it is strongly recommended that everyone heads straight for the Awards (Picnic) Lunch at the Susurumba Bhuddist Retreat, just beyond the Pine Tree Inn, without taking time to shower and change. Starting the lunch early will allow time for those wishing to leave early from the lunch to reach their destinations before dark.
Covid-19 compliance precludes us offering bar service so please remember to bring along to the picnic lunch, a cooler box with your preferred tipple, as well as face masks, hand sanitizer, camp chairs etc. Once again, we ask you to lunch in your teams/informal groups to limit interaction.
Elevation Profile: Summit Day: 2.9 kms