Just 35 kilometres south of Bulawayo in southern Zimbabwe lies the Matobo National Park, situated in the magnificent Matobo Hills. These hills are a range of domes, spires and balancing rock formations which have been hewn out of the sold granite plateau through millions of years of erosion and weathering.
The National Park forms about 425 km² of the total 3100 km² Hills area comprising largely of communal land and commercial farmland. Within the national park itself, around 100 km² is set aside as a game park and is home to a rich variety of animal species including the likes of black and white rhino, zebra, kudu, hyena, cheetah, giraffe and Africa's largest concentration of leopard. There are no lion which means that you can walk freely amongst the hills on your own. Bird life is also extremely numerous and diverse including a famously large concentration of black eagles as well as fish eagle, francolin, secretary bird, Egyptian geese and many more.
It is also an area of great spiritual and cultural significant to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place. The name 'Matobo' derives from the Matabele word for 'bald-headed' and the hills were named by the Ndebele founder Mzilikazi. The park also plays host to a well preserved collection of rock art left behind by the Bushmen living in the area around 2000 years ago, long before the Ndebele tribe arrived in the area.
The graves of both Cecil John Rhodes and the Ndebele king Mzilikazi are found in the Matobo Hills. Rhodes is buried at the summit of Malindidzimu 'the hills of benevolent spirits' and a hill he referred to as having a 'View of the World'. The grave, which is only a short walk from the parking lot, is carved out of the solid granite hill and surrounded by a natural Amphitheatre of massive boulders.
A quick and easy drive from Bulawayo or a short flight, a Matobo Hills National Park safari offers some of the region's most beautiful scenery; with its rugged terrain it's a hikers paradise.
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