Ngqwele Dube, Leisure Correspondent
New tourist attraction, Blue Hills Camp which offers various activities that are interspersed within a small space, could be the next frontier for local tourists.
Located just 35 kilometres out of Bulawayo (off Esigodini road) on a five-hectare plot, the place that opened in December last year, is nestled within Endongeni Farm, just on the edge of the city as one gets into Matabeleland South province.
Many were not interested in this section of Endongeni Farm when it was offered for sale because it is mountainous but Hlompo Nare had other ideas. He snapped up five hectares of the farm as he saw his vision of a leisure spot coming to fruition.
“The vision has always been there and when I saw the land up for sale, I knew this was what I’d always been dreaming of. We opened last year in December but had to close in March this year due to the lockdown. However, we’ve not completed building some of the structures,” he said.
The camp is located on a hill right inside Endongeni Farm and presents majestic aerial views of the area. The main building is erected on a vantage point that allows one an expanse view.
Accessing the place was initially a struggle as there was no road and Nare had to work with the Umzingwane Rural District Council to create a new road for the convenience of his guests. The road leading to the camp, although not tarred yet, has made the journey more pleasurable.
Visiting the camp, most agreed that this is the perfect getaway spot which is also ideal for workshops with those seeking maximum concentration guaranteed of silence. Birthday parties and other family gatherings can also be held at the camp.
With affordable accommodation in the form of chalets and executive rooms, some which are still being built as well as a dormitory, one is assured of a home away from home.
Nare said participants in workshops can only be disturbed by their own phones as the serene camp site is far away from possible disturbances.
“It’s the ideal spot for serious workshops and conferences as it’s far away from the madding crowd with only phones likely to disturb participants,” he said.
Going green is Blue Hills’ mantra and this has seen the site go off the grid by installing a solar system to power the whole site.
A lot of activities are on offer at the camp as people can go hiking and bike riding. The bike riding though is gruelling as biking through mountains requires a fit person with steep slopes proving challenging.
Adrenaline thrills are abound at Blue Hills with the zipline ranking as one of the top attractions although an equal number of people are afraid of floating across the line. The zipline presents a total of 390m ride in the air on two platforms.
The game drive also provides another thrill with its steep ascents and descents that leave one clutching to the rails of the safari vehicle as you navigate acute angles while getting spectacular views of the site.
There is table tennis for outdoor lovers while a mini-golf course is being constructed to ensure the camp offers a wide range of activities. One can also just take a walk in appreciation of the camp.
Blue Hills Camp is an ideal venue for team building with the mountainous nature presenting a great opportunity for sports teams to prepare their return to the field as the demanding terrain offers a good preparatory environment.
Nare believes the site should offer a truly camping experience hence they do not want it to be a hotel although their chalets offer superb accommodation while those who want a night under the stars are free to come with their tents.
The camp also has tents for hire.
Foodies are fully catered for as there are ample braai stands at the venue with gazebos being placed strategically where people can sit and soak in the views while enjoying the cool breeze that permeates through the mountains.
Visitors can bring their own meat but they also have the option of ordering food from the camp’s diverse menu. They are also free to bring in their own drinks.
Nare said they will soon introduce game, with zebra and impalas staying within the area and can be viewed at feeding points when they come to eat.
He said they are targeting both the local and foreign market with special packages for local visitors being introduced.
“We also have to consider the local communities in and around Esigodini as part of our corporate social responsibility. We want to enable them to access the facility at a lower cost.
“Being new, we’re still trying to find our feet so we’re taking things slowly as the industry recently reopened. In future, we’re looking at adding canoeing and fishing onto our list of activities as we expand and bring more adventure,” he said.