The Cecil Kop Nature Reserve
- The 1,500 hectare wildlife reserve consists of three distinct areas; Tiger’s Kloof, the forested north eastern mountain face with numerous springs rolling down to the dam and surrounding msasa woodland; Thomson's Vlei with its undulating grasslands and the Wilderness Area of heavily wooded forest, gullies and springs.
- It is home to two elephant (mother and son) one female giraffe, three zebra, one crocodile in Tiger Kloof dam, kudu, vervet and samango monkeys, baboons, and an occasional sighting of leopard. Sadly numbers of animals are down from the past, when there were more elephant and three white rhino, including Daisy. Like so many of Zimbabwe’s less well-known attractions, visitor numbers are severely reduced through the lack of positive news about the country and this has a direct impact on the revenues of each site.
- As a place to visit, the Nature Reserve is a wonderful amenity and is well-kept by staff and volunteers.
Head north from the city centre up Herbert Chitepo Street, pass St Dominic’s Girls School on the left, turn left onto Arcadia Road as Herbert Chitepo Street takes a sharp right turn, note there is no signage. 0.6 KM turn left onto gravel road signposted Cecil Kop Nature Reserve, 1.0 KM reach car park
GPS reference: 18⁰57′08.70″S 32⁰41′02.76″E
Cecil Kop Nature Reserve is located just two kilometres from the city centre and is managed and developed by Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ) Manicaland Branch being established in 1977 to provide educational and recreational facilities for local citizens to view Zimbabwe's wildlife under natural conditions.
Visitors may drive around the Thompson's section for good views of the mountains and might be lucky enough to see game. Also a Nature Reserve, it includes a wide variety of vegetation types including Brachystegia woodlands, evergreen forests, montane grasslands and vleis.
The rolling granite topped hillsides covered in Miombo woodlands and valleys filled with dense forest patches attract a host of bird species that makes the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe one of the best birding locations in the country. Amongst those spotted are Gurney's sugarbirds, grey waxbills, spotted creepers, miombo tits, miombo double-collared sunbirds and augur buzzards high overhead.
The Nature Reserve is a tranquil and popular environment for visitors and for family outings with a refreshment kiosk, picnic sites and braai (barbecue) facilities.
Sadly on the day we visited little wildlife came down to the viewing site, but we were assured by staff that they do come down to drink and on another day we would have more luck!