The Sunday News
MATOBO National Park occupies a total area of 44 500 hectares. Established in 1953, the Park was awarded Unesco World Heritage Status in June 2003. The Park includes an Intensive Protection Zone where a large population of Black and White Rhinoceros are successfully breeding. The park offers a diverse package of tourist attractions and activities.
The park is situated in the magnificent Matobo Hills, a range of domes, spires and balancing rock formations which have been hewn out of the solid granite plateau through millions of years of erosion and weathering. The majestic and rugged terrain of the park is a hiker’s paradise and the diversity of the vegetation supports a wide range of wildlife.
Matobo meaning ‘‘bald heads’’ was the name chosen for the area by the great Ndebele King, Mzilikazi. He is buried in the Matobo Hills just a short distance from the park.
Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. He is buried at the summit of Malindidzimu — ‘‘hill of benevolent spirits’’. He referred to this hill as having a ‘‘View of the World’’. A short walk from the parking lot will lead the visitor to his grave, which is carved out of the solid granite hill and surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of massive boulders.
The Matobo area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place.
The park is home to a wide variety of animal species including: black and white rhinoceros, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, kudu, eland, sable, klipspringer, leopard, hyena, cheetah, hippo, warthog, rock dassies, waterbuck, wildcat, springhare, common duiker, crocodiles, baboons and monkeys.
The richness of the park can also be seen from the diverse bird life. The park is famous for its large concentration of black eagles, which can be seen perched atop the rock formations or soaring along the cliffs in search of prey. Bird species that can be found include, fish eagle, martial eagle, francolin, secretary bird, weavers, pied crow and Egyptian geese.
Fish species readily found in this park include, bass, bottle fish, bream, catfish and robustus.
Matobo National Park has a mixed type of vegetation that ranges from mopane, acacia species, brachstegia in other area, figtrees, azanza species, zizphus species, strychnos species and terminalia species.
Why visit Matobo?
The park has one of the largest concentrations of black and white rhinoceros making it easy to sight one or more of the large population of this endangered specie.
Fine rock paintings — within the park are numerous sites which were once occupied by the San hunter-gatherers. The paintings at Nswatugi Cave are perhaps some of the finest in the country and contain beautiful renditions of giraffe, eland and kudu. There are other areas of note such as Bambata Cave, Inanke Cave and Silozwane Cave — just outside the park — that display fine animal paintings. The ne but distinct outline of a rhinoceros at the White Rhino Shelter was the impetus for the reintroduction of the species to the park in the 1960’s
Numerous cultural and historical sites
The unique balancing rock features
The curio souvenir sales crafted by the local communities around the park
The quiet and unpolluted environment
Excellent stopover for tourists in transit to Hwange and Victoria Falls
How to get to Matobo National Park
The park is located 34 kilometres south of Bulawayo along the Kezi/Maphisa Road. The Main road to Maleme is tarred while all other Park roads are gravel and mostly in good condition. During the rainy season the road to Toghwana requires four-wheel drive vehicles.