The magical waters of Osborne Dam

The magical waters of Osborne Dam. The breeze and the wave of the waters, especially during a boat cruising expedition, is a marvel which gives one the edge to explore more. From sailing to angling, from walking to sun bathing, a chill at the largest water-body in Manicaland – Osborne Dam – is a worthwhile adventure.

The water-body gives boating enthusiasts an expansive area to embark on some kayaking fun, race or just cruise around. The excursions make couples, families and individuals appreciate the gift of life, the beauty and therapy that nature offers.

Outside the shores, there is a game drive that spans up to 80km where activities such as hill walking and safari driving are conducted. The forests are a favoured birding habitat with birds such as dark-baked weavers, yellow-streaked and stripe-cheeked birds a common sight and offering a beautiful eye therapy.

The vast fresh water is home to some fantastic species of fish such as Tilapia and catfish which has seen fishing being an added on visitors’ holiday packages’.

Osborne Dam

The Osborne Dam site on Odzi River was identified in the 1950s by the planning engineers of the then Ministry of Water. Cored drilling investigations on the two possible alignments were completed in the 1960s.

Construction of the dam started in 1991 and was completed in 1995. It is possible to access the lake from the Harare-Mutare Highway. Visitors to the dam have to travel 36km from Mutare through Odzi farmlands, or by using the Koodoosberg Road off the Nyanga–Mutare Road.

With a surface area reaching about 2 600 hectares, the reservoir has a total water storage capacity of 400 million cubic metres. The lake stretches for 16km up to the Odzi River, and 15km along its Nyatande River tributary. It is over 6km wide and 66 metres deep.

Osborne Dam

The area has a moderate climate with an average temperature of 24 degrees Celsius. People have been frequenting Osborne Dam to experience the beauty of this massive expanse of water which affords spectacular sunsets, water sports and good fishing.

Osborne Dam makes a great getaway from Mutare as it is roughly an hour’s drive. Hoteliers, tourism players, entertainers, business people believe there is a lot to be done to explore the full potential of Osborne Dam and identify areas that contribute towards fulfilling Government’s vision of creating an upper middle-class economy by 2030.

The Manica Post learnt that livelihood options in and around Osborne Dam include fish farming (mainly cage fish, fish line method, controlled net fish catching), accommodation in the form of lodges or chalets, boat cruise, downstream agricultural activities, camping sites and open air events, among other things.

Osborne Dam visitor

Mr Bernard Bepe of Agribusiness Solutions Network said poor road network and exorbitant tour fees are some of the major drawbacks hindering the full exploration of the dam’s full potential.

Tourism and environment expert, Mr Lloyd Makonya said the October Summerfest recently held by Zimpapers’ regional radio station Diamond FM helped in the marketing of the dam, while the introduction of more exciting activities like boating and jetskiing could help improve the dam’s appeal as a tourism product.

“There are a significant number of economic opportunities which can be derived from Osborne Dam, like organised fishing co-operatives by communities and irrigation schemes for all year round farming.

View Osborne Dam

“There is need for Government through ZimParks to carry out a new feasibility study on how communities can have partnerships with the administering authority to harness the full potential of the water resource,” said Mr Makonya.

Veteran hotelier and lecturer at Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences’ Hospitality and Tourism Department, Mr Willard Madhombiro said: “The race is on for Manicaland and the nation at large to identify areas to explore to contribute towards fulfilling Government ‘s Vision 2030. The dam is an ideal location to build hotels and lodges. Spar technology should be part of services provided to tourists as health and wellness tourism has become a trillion-dollar industry globally.

“Potential investors will have to be identified to invest in activities such as speed boats, sports and fishing. Locals stand to benefit through employment. Marketing the dam as another tourism resort will attract international holiday makers on vacation, while boosting domestic tourism. I believe Osborne Dam is another low hanging fruit. Osborne Dam view

A little trigger through financial injection to facilitate tourism projects, agriculture and marketing will take Eastern Highlands to another level,” he said. Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe national president, Mr Charlton Chimbira said the facility has potential and could be a well recognised international tourist attraction if funding is availed to uplift the place.

He also called for the rehabilitation of roads that lead to the dam, as well as introducing more recreational activities there.

Source – Manica Post

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