Monday, 30 January 2017
ZIMBABWE: Matobo National Park
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.
Accommodation facilites are located at Whitewaters, Tshabalala Sanctuary, Toghwana, Hazelside and Mtsheleli. Maleme Rest Camp provides accommodation in the form of chalets and lodges and it is by far the largest rest area in the Park.
Electrified accommodation is found at Maleme Rest Camp where the main office is located. There are several types of lodges at Maleme.
12 lodges with have 2 bedrooms, a kitchen with fridge, stove, cutlery and crockery. Some of the lodges have 4 single beds and others have 1 double bed and 2 singles. All lodges are equipped either dressing tables or wardrobes, dinning rooms with tables, chairs, heaters, flush toilet and bathrooms with cold and hot water.
There are 3 single bedroom lodges with similar facilities as the 2 bedroomed lodges.
This is a 2 bedroomed lodge with 5 beds i.e. one double and one single bed, one bedroom with 2 single beds all with linen, 2 dressing tables. The kitchen has a fridge, 4 plate stove, electric kettle, crockery and cutlery. The lodge has a flush toilet, bathroom with tub and hot shower, veranda, garden table and chairs.
This is a 2 bed roomed lodge with 5 beds i.e. one double and one single bed, one bedroom with 2 single beds all with linen, 2 dressing tables. The kitchen has a fridge, 4 plate stove, electric kettle, crockery and cutlery. The lodge has a flush toilet, bathroom with tub and hot shower, veranda, garden table and chairs.
Top of the range accommodation with 2 bedrooms containing 2 double teak beds. Each bedroom has 4-seater teak easy chairs. There are 2 ensuite bathrooms and flush toilets. The dining room has a teak table. The veranda overlooking the river has a garden table and chairs. The kitchen has a fridge, 4 plate stove, crockery and cutlery supplied.
5 single bedroom chalets have 2 single beds, dressing tables, wall wardrobes, dining tables with chairs for 2. The kitchen is communal and is equipped with 2 plate stoves. Ablution facilities are communal. Heaters are also supplied in the chalets.
1 two-bedroomed chalet with one double bed and 2 single beds, dressing tables, wall wardrobes. The chalet has a dining room with dining tables and chairs for 2. The kitchen is communal and is equipped without 2 plate stoves. Ablution facilities are also communal. Heaters are also supplied in the chalet.
Cooking facilities are available on wood or charcoal braais. Ablution and toilet facilities are provided in a communal block.
Camping sites are available at Maleme Dam, Mthselele Dam, Toghwana Dam, Mesilume Dam and Arboretum.
The Rhodes Hall is a conference facility that can host up to 30 delegates depending on the required seatting arrangement. There is a blackboard, projector, 60 inch colour television monitor, VCR and decoder. Toilet facilities are adjoined to the hall. The kitchen facilities and equipment include an urn for boiling water, pots, cups, glasses, crockery and cutlery. Movable braai stands are also available for guests’ use.
Tourists are encouraged to liase with the tourist office on availability of particular activities as well as to get details on the rules and regulations.
• Escorted walks for up to 6 people – an armed scout can be availed on booking at Maleme or Whitewaters office
• Pony trails – conducted around the Maleme Dam area and into the Whovi Wild Area
• Fishing – allowed in most dams to those issued with licences at the tourist office
• Boating – privately owned boats are permitted on certain dams
• Game viewing – can be done in the Whovi Wild Area, a protected game park which is home to more than 60 animal species and hundreds of beds
• Bird watching – offers great opportunity to see the several eagle species
• Hiking – there is abundant excitement of climbing the Pomongwe Hill which gives one a good view of the central part of the Park
• 33 miler road race – a unique marathon that is conducted within the Park at particular times of the year
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 feint 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. Durintg the rainy season the road to Toghwana requires 4 wheel drive vehicles