This remote region, lying right on the Zimbabwe/Mozambique border is well known to many visitors to Zimbabwe hoping to find rare and unusual species, and at one stage was one of the most exciting destinations in this country. Unfortunately in the last few years most of the forest has been chopped out and planted under bananas despite attempts by local NGO's and the Department of National Parks & Wildlife Management to save the designated reserves. It is still possible to see some of the eastern Highland specials in the area, but with some difficulty, and visitors must be prepared to travel along an appalling road for approximately 40 km and a continuous stream of locals chattering gaily as they pass through the remaining patch of forest. Many birders have camped in the Rusitu forest but visitors now do so at their own risk and must ensure that there is always someone on guard at the campsite and around the vehicles because of theft. Almost nothing remains of the Haroni Reserve as most of it is now under bananas and much of the stream-bank is also under cultivation. There is still a very small patch of riverine vegetation at the junction of the Haroni & Rusitu Rivers, and the forest across the Haroni river remains relatively undisturbed. These days it is probably better to go birding in the Honde Valley where all of the Haroni specials plus a few more can be seen in comfort (and along a tar road!).
The cultivated lands along the route into Haroni/Rusitu are good for Blue-spotted Wood-Dove and in the past Southern Banded Snake-Eagle has been seen hunting in this area. Keep an eye out for Black-winged Bishop in these lands - previously very common but now difficult to find. The forest starts just after passing the Vimba School and Black-bellied Starling is sometimes recorded in the trees at the edge of the forest - the only location in Zimbabwe where they have been seen. Green Malkoha are sometimes seen in the creeper tangles over the dead trees and a resident pair of Scaly-throated Honeyguide call regularly from the top of the hill. In the forest canopy look for Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Green-backed Woodpecker, Chirinda Apalis and Stripe-cheeked Greenbul. The distinctive call of the Tiny Greenbul helps you to locate this elusive species in the undergrowth. Black-headed Apalis, Black-and-white Flycatcher, Whitetailed Crested Flycatcher and Pallid Honeyguide occur, but obviously in reduced numbers.Directions: The Haroni/Rusitu area is best approached from near Chimanimani. About 10 km before Chimanimani, turn right just before the sawmill onto Nyahodi Road. At 5.2 km turn right and at 18.1 km turn left onto Ndima Rd. At 27 km turn left over the river bridge and follow your nose to the Vimba School at about 40 km from the tar. The Rusitu forest remnant is 1 km past the school and the Haroni forest about 10 km further on at the end of the road.