"Mutare - friendly, safe, clean and a bit boring :)" Mutare by suziezed

Mutare Travel Guide: 12 reviews and 29 photos

Reminds me a bit of home!

Mutare is nice enough - wide, clean streets and - at least in the downtown areas and the pricier suburbs - very presentable homes with lovely gardens. But out in what's called the 'high-density suburbs' the reality is a bit different.

The trees are gone, the roads are untarred, rutted and dusty and things don't look nearly as prosperous or appealing. This is however, a safe city with friendly inhabitants but not much to recommend it for the casual tourist.

If you travel to Mutare from Harare you will enter the city by descending the Christmas Pass and the whole of Mutare will be laid out below you - it's very scenic. The city is partially ringed by hills and here you'll find the Cecil Kopp nature reserve which sadly seems to have fewer animals than visitors these days.

The 'real' Mutare

The so-called 'high density' suburbs are where the average people of Mutare live. I stayed for a while in Chikanga Phase III which didn't even have named streets. I don't think it was that the suburb was so new - I just think no one cared enough and/or the municipality had no money to erect street signs.

Chikanga is rather a dismal place - there is a supermarket (recently built) but there are very few public services provided (if you dont have a car you reach the suburb by taking a privately owned minibus - because it is privately owned the price is subject to the whim of the owner and rose from $40,000 Zim to $70,000 Zim by the time I left - or WALKING the 7 km or so to town if you can't afford the fare). There are of course bars and bottle stores but nothing much else. The overall feeling is one of quiet desperation with lots of people, especially young people, sitting around doing nothing or getting in to mischief. Oh, and did I mention that we only had water flowing from the taps from about 9pm to 5 am every day and usually had a power cut every evening from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

Downtown Mutare

Downtown Mutare is not very large and you could walk from one end to another in about half an hour or so. There are 3 or 4 supermarkets but the main ones that people shop at are OK and TM. A new Spar was under construction while I was there (May-August 2006) but I don't know when it was scheduled to open. OK and TM are on the main street (Herbert Chitepo) on either side of Meikles Park.

There are 3 or 4 places patronized by tourists and better off white and black Zimbabweans. I am ashamed to say that I never ate or drank in any of the less expensive 'local' places - not because I am a snob but because they didn't offer anything that interested me. In India I eat Indian food at street stalls and in cafes patronized by locals and tourists alike. But in Mutare the local places offered only sadza and rather gruesome sounding meat dishes (tripe, oxtail) which I wouldn't eat in Canada. So you would find me at places like the Green Coucal having cappucino and muffins. Okay, so maybe I am a snob.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:clean, safe, inexpensive for tourists, pleasant climate and people
  • Cons:not a lot to do, transportation is getting difficult
  • In a nutshell:Stay a week or so - much longer and you'll be bored
  • Last visit to Mutare: Aug 2006
  • Intro Updated Sep 25, 2006
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