Growing up I used to admire the 20c (old Zimbabwean coin) and still do, used to keep one but you know how it is when you are one of those never in one place for a very long time. I remember the very first time while traveling to Inyanga in December (annual family vacation), I lost it literally, the excitement of seeing the famous 20 cent bridge was indescribable like we finally here. The number of pictures we took well I’ll leave it to your imagination I know it’s safer that way. Mind back we didn’t have cell phones sorry mobile phones, it was good old fashioned battery powered cameras those ones with films in them that you had to send to a pro to develop kind of camera.
The Birchenough Bridge was commissioned and completed in 1935 by Dorman Long. Ralph Freeman was the man behind the original design, the true brains behind the whole project was the Beit trust whose chairperson at the time was Sir Henry Birchenough ( a small fact, his ashes are buried beneath the structure of the bridge for those who didn’t know). So where is the famous bridge located? The bridge is located in the Manicaland region of Zimbabwe. Approximately plus or minus 62 kilometers from Chipinge. The bridge actually is a link between Chipinge and Buhera. What makes the bridge a piece of fascinating historical art is the fact that back in the day, at a length of 329 m, the bridge was considered to be the third longest single-arch suspension bridge in the world. History also has it that the bridge designer, Mr freeman was the same man who worked on the Sydney Habour Bridge, therefore consequently the two bridges bear a close similarity, although Birchenough bridge is only two-thirds as long as the Australian bridge which makes them siblings rather than twins. Beneath the bridge lies or is flows the Save river also known as Sabi river, which flows between Zimbabwe and Mozambique so we can say we have two attractions in one if you know what I mean. The bridge does have a weight restriction which has been continuously upgraded ever since it was extended. Not more than 25 tonnes can pass through the bridge. Some actually believe that this has caused a drop in traffic flow to the area, to some it’s a plus but in the long run the side effects eventually can be felt, especially in terms of business.
Most important activity you need to take note of once you get to the bridge is take pictures…..lots of pictures before and crossing the bridge. Accommodation wise take advantage of Sango lodge which is 69, 5 kilometers away from the bridge, heaven lodge – 59, 7 kilometers, Chipinge guest lodge – 39 kilometers away and lastly the farmhouse which is also 59,7 kilometers. Personally I have seen pictures of bridge at night with all the stars doing their thing and strongly recommend bridge viewing at night but not during the rainy season please.