Matobo National Park

Neither the largest nor the best-known of Zimbabwe’s national parks, a visit to Matobo National Park is nonetheless a must for anyone looking to understand the Zimbabwe of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Protecting the magnificent Matobo (or Matopo) Hills, a region of gently sloping ‘whaleback dwalas’ and rocky granite uplifts known as ‘kopjes’, the national park contains a 39 square mile game park promising all but guaranteed close-up sightings of its white rhino population on foot safaris.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the presence of wildlife in the Matobo Hills over centuries is recorded through the rock art paintings of the region’s San (Bushmen), of which 3,000 individual sites have been recorded. The freeze at Bambata Cave depicts elephant, giraffe, and mongoose, while the paintings in Nswatugi Cave include zebra and jackal.

In addition to one or more of these caves, tours of Matobo National Park regularly include the chance to climb one of the kopjes for vistas across the region. Their rocks are home to a variety of species, most particularly baboons and hyrax in such numbers that the leopards which hunt them now have the highest density in the world.

The most dramatic of them all is Malindidzimu, or ‘the hill of the spirits.’ Its giant granite boulders, reaching to twice the height of an average man, create a unique atmosphere, especially towards sunset. No wonder then that this is the site where the founder of today’s Zimbabwe, Cecil Rhodes, chose to be interred.

Top Zimbabwe Travel Destinations

Great Zimbabwe / Harere / Hwange National Park / Lake Kariba / Mana Pools National Park / Victoria Falls

The Big Five

African Elephant / Cape Buffalo / Leopard / Lion / Rhino

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