Visiting Matobos National Park leaves you with a new sense of self-discovery. Okay, maybe it won’t, but I have always wanted to use that cliché. What Matobos will provide is an awe-inspiring look into the past and a rustic adventure into the bush. Situated a 30min drive from the beautiful, leafy and historically interesting town of Bulawayo, Matobos was originally claimed by Cecil Rhodes (that famous railway builder) as his personal bush playground. Fortuitously, Mr Rhodes be quested the site back to the Zimbabwe government on his death, with his grave buried and on display in the park which is now open for all to enjoy.
Matobos is not the park for those wanting the quintessential African Safari, as the parks animals can most certainly elude you and there are no rolling plains. If however you are looking for something a bit different, then this park should not be missed. In Matobos, you can enjoy the rare opportunity of a walking safari to trek the elusive yet captivating Rhinoceros. We were teased with fresh droppings and a flash of grey behind scrub but it wasn’t our day for a sighting. Instead, we drove out to Nswatugi Cave, enjoying the hot air on our faces, engulfed by the bush surrounding us. Near the cave we parked up and climbed over surprising lichen covered boulders and rusty looking rocks, before ascending higher and reaching the heart of the cave. Here, we marvelled at the Bushmen paintings, dating back 2000-4000 thousand years. The clay and ochre paintings are exquisite, carefully detailed and full of colourful oranges and red; you would be forgiven for thinking they were done yesterday. As Bushmen came and went, the stories told through paint crept higher and higher up the walls to a height now that leaves you wondering how they reached it. Unfortunately, the Bushmen have long since moved on out of Matobos with all their bush secrets, but their paintings reignite an understanding of the old ways, of spiritual and earth connectedness, that is disappearing quickly from modern society.
The most striking feature of this park however, is the amazing granite boulders that stack and balance so preciously on one another. The phenomenon is not isolated to Matobos, travelling through Zimbabwe via road you can often see similar examples yet the best and most varied are certainly housed here. Through centuries of water and wind erosion, the rocks leave you in awe at how it is possible for such formations to be created and gives an element of wonder and mystery to the park that can’t help but leave you captivated. For once, you smile to yourself, the animals that are usually taking over the photo lens have finally given way to the scenery you usually miss…
Blog and Images by Belinda Tessieri, Acacia Tour Leader