highlights and main attractions of matobo hills national park

For a park this tiny, just 440 kilometres square, Matobo Hills sure does squeeze a lot in. The landscape of spectacular granite kopjes and giant whalebacks have been sculpted and shaped over time by the elements, rock faces have been used as a canvas, portraying incredible art from bushmen and times of war and peace between races and artefacts have been found to be over 35,000 years old on archaeological digs. 

Here you will find hidden caves, local villages thriving in a tribal culture and stunning wildlife, the purple hills of the Zambian escarpment resonating a peaceful calm in the background. With its unusual settings, like no others on earth, and historical and cultural values, Matobo Hills was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

where is matobo hills national park?

landscapes, people and wildlife

The Matobo Hills National Park forms the core of the Matobo or Matopos Hills region of approximately 3,100 kilometres in total, which is located less than 30 minutes south of the city of Bulawayo. Jutting out between the forested valleys, the large granite boulders and whale back rock formations create some almost impossible looking sights, where round boulders balance at awkward angles above the plains of the park, creating eerie silhouettes and natural shelters.

san bushmen

San Bushmen first lived in the hills of the national park around 2,000 years ago and their rock paintings, clay ovens and historical artefacts provide an insight into their indigenous culture. It is also a spiritual place, with shrines and sacred areas still used today by the Shona and people of Southern Africa. Indeed, the site was fought over in 1893 by the Ndebele African group who considered the site as sacred, where the rain shrine of the god of their ancestors Mwari is found. As such the area plays a significant role in the community and its local tradition, making a village visit well worth your time whilst you are here.

wildlife

The park has sections earmarked as a protected area for game, including a healthy number of the  endangered black rhino and also white rhino, but the area is also one of Zimbabwe's most intriguing wildlife sanctuaries with a variety of antelope species including kudu, sable and eland, as well as baboon and a large population of leopard. Keen birders should keep their eyes peeled for a host of hawks, falcons and other raptors. 

This is Black Eagle domain, with the biggest number of their nesting sites in the world. They mainly feed on rock hyrax, which have a ferret-like appearance, but are closely related to the elephant, and scuttle comically across the rock faces.

The accommodation here is as unique as the untamed beauty of the park, with lodges such as Big Cave Camp, which fits seamlessly into its surroundings with granite and thatch structures, and Camp Amalinda, a characteristic boutique lodge.

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