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Running from Nyanga in the north to Chimanimani in the south, the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe are one of the most exciting birding destinations in this country. The main focus of the Nyanga region is the Rhodes Nyanga National Park which includes Mt. Nyangani, the highest peak in Zimbabwe (2 592m) and the Mtarazi Falls, the highest waterfall in the country (762m). This northern region is probably best known as a major breeding ground of the Blue Swallow. Nyanga is one of Zimbabwe's premier holiday resorts and offers a wide range of accommodation facilities to visiting birders ranging from quality hotels to bed & breakfast or self catering facilities as well as camping sites in the National Park. There is an excellent road network to most resorts in the area, but in the National Park most of the roads are gravel, and in some of the more remote regions 4x4 vehicles are necessary particularly in the rainy season.



Blue Swallow, Eastern Saw-wing, Singing Cisticola, Roberts's Warbler, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Variable Sunbird, Bronzy Sunbird, Olive Sunbird, Livingstone's Turaco, Whyte's Barbet, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, African Firefinch, Chirinda Apalis, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Orange Ground-Thrush, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Gurney's Sugarbird, Malachite Sunbird.



In the summer months the open montane grassland areas are the place to look for the rare and highly endangered Blue Swallow. Possibly the best place is on the Nyangani Circular Drive which travels along the western edge of the mountain down to the Pungwe Drift (4WD required). Another area is Little Connemara, on the road from Troutbeck to World's View.

Also found in the grassy areas is Singing Cisticola, an eastern Highlands special. Other grassland species to look out for are Cape Grassbird, Broad-tailed Warbler, Common Quail and Wailing Cisticola. The bracken on the edges of the grassland and the tree line is the place to look for Roberts's Warbler and Barratt's Warbler, both of which are easily located by their calls. Augur Buzzard and Long-crested Eagle are the two most common raptors in this area and are regularly seen perching on telephone lines along the main roads.

Eastern Saw-wing is a common resident, and prefers to feed around the edges of the woodland. It is easily found around both Rhodes Nyanga Hotel and Troutbeck Inn. The gardens at both hotels attract large numbers of sunbirds including Malachite Sunbird, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Variable Sunbird, Bronzy Sunbird and Olive Sunbird. Other species attracted into these gardens and the surrounding forest include Livingstone's Turaco, Cape Robin-Chat, Whyte's Barbet, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove and Roberts's Warbler.

From Troutbeck take the Church Road and search the pockets of montane forest and edges of exotic plantations for Tambourine Dove, White-starred Robin, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, African Firefinch, Chirinda Apalis and Red-faced Crimsonwing. Gurney's Sugarbird is often found in the various protea plantations in the area.

In the National Park the woodland around the campsites at Mare and Rhodes Dams is good for Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Miombo Tit, Livingstone's Turaco and Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler. Blue-spotted Wood-Dove can be found in the various pine plantations. The open grassland around Udu Dam is another good place to look for Blue Swallow.

There is a very good patch of montane forest just before the Mtarazi Falls where it is possible to find Red-faced Crimsonwing, Orange Ground-Thrush, Lemon Dove, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike and Chirinda Apalis.

Another place to look for Gurney's Sugarbird is at the foot of Mt. Nyangani. Red-necked Spurfowl is another species here, and there is always a chance of spotting Scarce Swift. Peregrine Falcon and Lanner Falcon are two other species that could be seen around Mt.Nyangani.

World's View above Troutbeck is good for Scarce Swift and Mottled Swift. The Nyangombe Falls below Udu Dam is also a good site for Mottled and Alpine Swifts. Nyamaziwa Falls can be good for Scarce Swift, particularly in the early morning or evening.

There are many dams in this area and the water and reedbeds attract a variety of birds including African Black Duck, Thick-billed Weaver, Red-chested Flufftail, Levaillant's Cisticola and Yellow-bellied Waxbill.



The region is accessible from all main centres in Zimbabwe on good tar roads. From Harare take the main Harare/Mutare road and turn off to Nyanga in the centre of Rusape. The distance to Nyanga from Harare is 275km. From Mutare take the Juliasdale road at the bottom of Christmas Pass, and turn right at the T-junction at Juliasdale and follow the tar road to Nyanga (distance from Mutare 100km).

Accommodation is available in the area.

Zimbabwe Parks Website

Sue Worsley 2008
Derek Solomon 1997.

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