Fast Facts

  • Location: Approximately 50 km south of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.
  • Attraction Type: National park
  • Significance: A UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its rock paintings
  • Best Time to Visit: May to October
  • Visiting Hours: Daytime
  • How to Reach: By road from Bulawayo
  • Nearest International Airport: Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, Bulawayo

Matobo National Park is an amazing landscape of granite boulders located about 50 km from Bulawayo. Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe was initially named ‘Sindebele’, meaning ‘bald heads’, by Mzilikazi, a local warrior chief. The landscape is stunning with cracks and crevices, which even go down to the bedrock level, created by agents of erosion over millennia. In addition to its breathtaking landscape, Matobo is also renowned for its inimitable cave paintings.

History and Significance

These cave paintings done by The San bushmen go back 2000 years and are exemplary representations of human evolution from foragers to settlers. This unique art form of cave dwellers exists extensively throughout Matobo National Park, which has appropriately been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. This region inhabited by man and beast for more than 40,000 years has great cultural significance in addition to its historical importance. Among the cracks and crevices lies the rain shrine to Mwari, Ndebele tribe’s ancestral god. The entire Matobo hills are considered sacred, and certain peaks like Shumba Sham and Shabe are highly auspicious.

Activities in Matobo National Park

Matobo National Park has its own outstanding plant and animal life. It has the largest concentration of black eagles in the world and is inhabited by over 30 raptor species. In fact, Matobo is well known for its birds of prey. Discover both black and white rhinos in this National Park. The antelope varieties comprising sable, kudu, and eland are particularly graceful. Zebras, giraffes, and leopards are the other big animals viewed in this national park.

The rock formations are unbelievable. These are also the locations for burial sites of notable personalities like Sir Charles Coghlan, Cecil John Rhodes, Leander Starr Jameson, and Shangani Patrol memorial. While visiting Matobo National Park, explore Tshabalala Game Sanctuary, which can be covered, on foot or pony back.

Accommodation and dining

Bulawayo is the best place to stay for touring Matobo. For accommodation, you might select from Rainbow Bulawayo Hotel, The Nesbitt Castle, Holiday Inn Bulawayo, Cresta Churchill Hotel, and Southern Comfort Lodge. Big Cave Camp on the edge of Matobo National Park is also an attractive place to put up.

Morgan Restaurant serves authentic African cuisine and the finest wines and liquors. In the street markets of Bulawayo, a number of eateries serve local delicacies like ‘nyama’ and ‘sadza’.

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