General Information About Aberfoyle, Eastern Highlands, Zimbabwe
The seminal experience of Aberfoyle is to stand in the forest and look out across the Manica plateau, as the plain to the east of the escarptment is called. To hear the sounds of the forest canopy, of falling water, the far off samango, and to watch the brooding multicoloured valley in the changing light; or better still to watch dawn creep over the horizon when the summer has covered Mozambique with a silver cloud, and the mountains of Tawangwena, Gorongoza and Mpanda are black islands in a vapour sea, to watch the sea turn from silver to gold as the sun leaks into the sky; these are things not quickly forgotten. This experience must have excited the hunter gatherer, as he watched for moving game, as it has done everybody since, especially all those actors in the tea estate epic. This excitement was the generative force that created the tea estates. The forest and the tea bush were both created by the same enviroment, by the clouds crashing against the escarpment, by the heat and the rain and the thick red soils. The forest is, and always has been part of the Aberfoyle experience.
The forest is also unique and engdangered and the environmentally sensitive will immediately ask themselves, what effect did the plantations have on this wonderful asset: how much of the forest was cleared to make the tea estate? Not as much as might be suspected at first sight. This was not because the early planters were concerned with ecology, but because the forest was much more difficult and expensive to clear than open country.