This giants playground of ours – Issue 2
There is a part of Zimbabwe where the peace and tranquillity is punctuated by the cry of the Black Eagle that has made this awesome ‘Giants playground’ it’s home. Here, leopards live amongst granite outcrops which are as much a part of this southern Ndebele land as are the historical bushman paintings and the spirits of the past chiefs.
The Matobo Hills is a World Heritage Site and gained national park status in 1962. It boasts one of the highest concentrations of rock art anywhere in the world and is a stunning example of nature at play. This slowly carved and fascinating landscape of granite must rank as one of the ultimate experiences for the aesthetic. Rocks delicately balance on top of one another like fruit at a market, producing images like ‘The Mother and Child‘ which erupt from a ﬂat landscape carpeted in acacias and scarlet msasas and hiding the famous Matobo rhino and sable.
The San Bushmen made this granite wilderness their home thousands of years before Bantu tribes came along. A history of their life appears like stills in a movie house on the walls of the many caves and overhangs, resident throughout the 425sq km park. While theories on the meaning of the rock paintings certainly differ, it is nonetheless humbling to stand in a 35,000 year old man‘s living room. The sites which are generally most popular with tourists are just a few of many dotting the landscape. For example Inange Cave has some of the most exquisite and well preserved Bushmen paintings in Zimbabwe. It is however a rather strenuous ﬁve hour hike each way to get there which is why most people choose to visit Bambata cave, the White Rhino Shelter or Nswatugi Cave.
The San were evicted by the Torwa tribe arriving from the crumbling ruins of Great Zimbabwe in the east around the ﬁfteenth century. They made the Matopos their home until they in turn were over run by the Rozvi, who established the Rozvi State in 1684 and brought with them from Great Zimbabwe, the ‘Mwari cult‘ whose oracles are still believed to be worshipped in a few matobo shrines. The Rozvi stood their ground until Nguni raiders (a by- product of battles taking place in South Africa) under Zwangendaba swept through the region. By the time Mzi1ikazi’s Ndebele arrived, the Rozvi state had collapsed and the Ndebele established themselves in the area where they remain today.
Cecil John Rhodes was so enamoured with the place that he requested to be buried there. His grave lies atop World’s View along with the graves of Leander Starr Jameson and Alan Wilson. The Matopos is popular for its serenity, fantastic views, walks, cycling opportunities and ﬁshing and there are several accommodation options to choose from.
National Parks have lodges and chalets perched up on the kopje overlooking the Maleme Dam. At the dam there is also a National Park campsite, which can be a tad cold in the winter to say the least but nothing that a good couple of litres of mulled wine wouldn’t cure!
If something a little more luxurious is what you’re after, Camp Amalinda is arguably one of the most delightful Matobo experiences along with the Big Cave Camp, cleverly built atop a ‘whaleback’ granite outcrop with the possibility of seeing one of the park’s infamous black eagles.
All of the camps in around the Matobo National Park (with the exception of those run by National Parks) provide game drives and scenic excursions into both the Wilderness and Game Park. Whatever you fancy, there is something for everyone out at the Matopos, whether it be wildlife, birds or trees, exercise, ﬁshing or cosy bars, log ﬁres and scrumptious food. So if you have a couple of free days up your sleeve or have simply had enough of it all, pack your wine and your steaks and go and marvel at this Giant’s playground‘.
For further information on the Matopos please contact:
Bulawayo Publicity Association
Robert Mugabe Way (between Leopald Takawira 8: 8th Ave)
Tel: +263 09 60867/72969