Hundreds of hills supporting thousands of precariously balanced rocks give the 170 square mile Matobo National Park one of the most unusual landscapes in Africa. The region was inhabited by nomadic hunters 20,000 years ago who left a legacy of rock paintings. The brooding silence of the massive rock formations gives the Matobo a unique atmosphere. These hills hold secret, sacred places and are the spiritual home and refuge of the Matabele and the long-vanished Bushman tribes before them.
The Matobo Hills, near Bulawayo, are also home to the white rhino, sable antelope, leopard and klipspringer. The world’s greatest concentration of black eagles soar above Matobo’s granite mountains. In addition to game viewing by vehicle or on foot, there are expeditions to historical and scenic sites among the hills. Bushman paintings, dating back hundreds of years, can be discovered and some of the finest examples of this ancient art are found in caves of the Matobo Hills. Visits to nearby African villages provide an opportunity to see how local people live and to buy some native crafts.
By Road: The very accessible Matobo National Park is located 50km/31mi south of Bulawayo. The access road and most roads in the park don’t need a 4WD.
By Air: Your visit to Matobo NP will normally come as part of a package and not in the form of a lone visit. Your main point of entry into Zimbabwe is Victoria Falls Airport (VFA), located near the town Victoria Falls. It is possible to drive from Victoria Falls. The distance is 540km/335mi, and the drive takes about six and a half hours. Alternatively, you can fly to Harare International Airport (HRE) and fly or drive from there. Your safari package will, in most cases, include your pick-up at the airport or hotel by your local tour operator, along with further travel arrangements.
Matobo has no lion or elephant, but white rhino is spotted quite regularly. This park has Africa's largest concentration of leopard, which love to move around the rocky outcrops (koppies) at dusk and dawn. Another animal associated with the rocky terrain is the klipspringer, which is often found in groups hopping from rock to rock.
Matobo’s diverse birdlife is reflected in the checklist of over 320 species, which is quite impressive for a small park. The park is famous for its large concentration of raptors and the world’s largest concentration of Verreaux’s eagles, specifically. They can be seen perched on top of rock formations or soaring along the cliffs in search of prey. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
Best Time to Visit
Wildlife watching in Matobo National Park is at its best during the Dry season, from June to October. Animals are more easily spotted since they gather around water sources, and the bush is thinner.
Fair weather is the order of the day during Matobo’s Dry season (April to October). Sunny days are the norm, with the early-morning chill of these months quickly forgotten. During the Wet season (November to March), however, the sun is often obscured by unrelenting drizzle or heavy afternoon downpours.