Matobo National Park

The Matobo National Park is 424 square kilometers in the south-west of Zimbabwe, 35 kilometers south of Bulawayo. The National Park is part of the Matobo (or Matopos) Hills that occupy an area of no less than 3100 km2. The area was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003 for its unique granite rock formations that sometimes seem to balance, shallow caves where bushman rock art can be found and a variety of flora and fauna. The highest point in these hills is Gulati with a top of 1549 meters. The founder of Rhodesia (the country that we now know as Zimbabwe), Cecile Rhodes, is buried in his favorite place: World’s View. A simple memorial stone marks his grave from where one has a beautiful view of ‘his’ beloved country. Today the area is still of great spiritual value for the local tribes such as the Ndebele.

In the Matabo Hills there are more than 200 different tree species including acacias, aloes and wild fruit trees, and there are also 100 different types of grass. In terms of animals, there are 88 different mammals, 175 bird species, 39 different snakes and 16 fish species. Among the birds, the black (crested) eagle stands out. The park has a high concentration of rhinos and you have a good chance of seeing them during a safari. There are also hippos, crocodiles, leopards, giraffes, zebras, kudus, moose, hyenas, cheetahs, ostriches, wildebeests, waterbucks, wild cats, rock dassies, monkeys, etc. For the greatest chance of seeing a lot of wildlife, visit the part of Matobo, known as Whovi Game Park, is closely monitored to prevent poachers from cutting the rhino’s horns and smuggling them out of the park.

More than 2000 years ago the San Bushmen were already living in the Matobo hills and they left their rock art here in more than 3000 places. These rock drawings have given us a good impression of the animal species that lived in this area. One of the drawings found was of a rhino and therefore they were reintroduced in Matobo in 1960. Some of the caves where you can see petroglyphs are: Bambata Cave, Inanke Cave, Nswatugi Cave (one of the best rock art places in the country), Pomongwe Cave and White Rhino Shelter.

There are several camps in the park of which Maleme Rest Camp is the largest and in addition to camping pitches also has chalets and a lodge (all self-catering). Maleme is beautifully situated on a river, here is also the headquarters of Matobo National Park and all the desired information about the park and the activities to be undertaken (such as horse riding and fishing) can be found here.

Matabo is an interesting area for hikers, particularly due to the erosion of rock formations that have strangely worn out. Climb Nyahwe mountain or Mount Shumbashawa near Gordon Park or hike from Toghwana Dam to the rock drawings at Inanke Cave. Options for shorter hikes / walks around Maleme Camp are: the Lakeside walk along the dam, hike from Maleme Camp to the rock paintings at Pomongwe Cave or climb to the top of Mount Pomongwe. You can also book guided walks at the main office in Maleme Camp. The balancing rocks are also very popular objects for photography enthusiasts.

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