Walking the Inanke Cave Trail is a trip for the intrepid traveler who really wants to get off the beaten track.
This spectacular Matobo Hills Hike offers one of the best one-day treks in the world and has all the ingredients of a rugged adventure.
The Inanke trail starts and finishes at Toghwana Dam in the south of the Matobo Hills, whilst taking in the grandest, most majestic cave in all of Southern Africa.
This is a real trek, where you’ll truly be out in some of the most ravishing wilderness Zimbabwe has to offer.
Inanke Cave is the highlight of the trail that is littered with historic sites. Along the route of the hike are several rock paintings and an Iron Age furnace.
When hiking the Inanke trail – it’s important to be realistic about your physical abilities.
The walk is a 12km round trip through an untouched granite wilderness. It is for those with an adventurous spirit, who are in fairly good shape and want to hike for a longer period of time.
THE TRAIL OF LIFE
Hiking to Inanke Cave is a beautiful representation of life.
All of us want to reach a summit of some kind. We all have goals and visions for the future.
Everybody has a timeline in mind, and all we want is to reach the top. We can feel how amazing it will be when we reach that point of self-actualisation.
But Make no Mistake. The climb is hard.
On the trail, vast swathes of savanna and granite give way to magnificent rivers and wildlife.
The walk takes in such a varied array of scenes, from fresh, running streams and waterfalls, to thick dense jungle tracks that you almost need a machete to pass.
This trail will fill you with a pioneer spirit.
Firstly, you have to really want to get to Inanke. Even the road to get there will test your resolve but the payoff is worth it a thousand times over.
A THEATRE OF SCENES
The trail to the cave of Inanke begins with yellow arrows from the Toghwana Dam car park. However, if you have not been there before, it is easy to get lost as the arrows disappear at some points along the trek.
You can expect tall grass and thick bushes along your pathless wanderings towards the cave.
Inanke cave is very rarely visited because of it’s location. The majestic cave is carved high into a granite hillside and filled with Masterpieces of ancient bushman art.
Once inside, a granite rock canvas containing some of the worlds most remarkable rock art sits still and patiently in the cool of the cave.
The Cave is undeniably awe-inspiring, a breathtaking mural of ancient life in the Matobo Hills.
The paintings are said to range from about 2000 years to 13 000 years old.
This iconic cave allows you to marvel at the work of people from almost another epoch, it fills you with a sense of perspective and wonder all at once.
by Josh Elliott
A recently published analysis by Africa Sun LTD placed Zimbabwe 117th among the most likely travel destinations on the planet.
When you consider for a moment that our much more dangerous neighbour South Africa is ranked 60th, it really puts into context the enormous wasted potential of the Zimbabwean tourism industry.
The Lonely Planet Guide made Zimbabwe one of it’s “Top 3 places to Visit in 2019.”
“International travelers want to see conservation and preservation not decimation” –Josh Elliott,Managing Director, Matobo Hills Lodge
This recognition really highlighted the massive tourism opportunities the country has at its fingertips. Tourism has the ability to alleviate both the current economic and political instability in Zimbabwe – it just has to be harnessed appropriately.
Tourism has the ability to alleviate both the current economic and political instability in Zimbabwe – it just has to be harnessed appropriately.
To do this we need to restore both international and domestic confidence in our products and in our ability to deliver world class experiences.
Recent sensational stories of baby Elephants being shipped to China and Elephants being shot by rich American hunters might bring a tiny amount of short term gain to the country in the form of capital but in terms of long-term tourism, destination management as well as general goodwill, it is hugely detrimental to all stakeholders in the Industry.
It is not the job of the National Parks to sell off assets that belong to the Zimbabwean people, it is their job to protect them!
International travelers are savvy and aware people, they will not support countries that they see as dishonest, difficult or corrupt.
They want to see conservation and preservation not decimation.
Travel & Tourism made up 3% of Zimbabwe’s GDP in 2017-2018, substantially lower than the world-wide average of well over 8% over the same two years.
So how can we fix tourism in Zimbabwe?
The Victoria Falls Problem
Most travel itineraries to Southern Africa do not include any Zimbabwean tourist attractions beyond Victoria Falls.
Zimbabwe is blessed with dozens of incredible tourist attractions from Nyanga to Great Zimbabwe to Matobo Hills to Kariba. Yet a paltry sum of people visit these places.
It is a tragedy.
People just do not know what is out there or what they are missing out on and if they do, they are scared to go, scared that they won’t find fuel, scared the police will stop them on the road and ask for a bribe.
A plan for the whole country – True Value
One Solution to fix this problem would be for The Zimbabwe National Parks to get with the times.Imagine if in addition to getting tickets at the Victoria Falls gate, you could also buy an App.
The “Zimbabwe National Parks” App it would cost say $40 to buy.
Not only would this App give you entry to Victoria Falls, it would for 3 weeks give you entry to all National Parks in Zimbabwe, it would be packed with maps, useful information, up to date news and updates, everything any tourist would need to make a decision to visit the rest of Zimbabwe.
What an incentive!
Tourists have already paid to visit Victoria Falls and now they can visit any of the National parks in Zimbabwe – FREE.
Why not lead the way in giving international travelers true value instead of just being another overpriced tourist trap.
Zimbabwe does not have a great reputation for internal domestic travel.
Being able to effectively connect tourist hubs in our own country is vital if we are to entice discerning international travelers.
To truly compete on the global stage, Zimbabwe will need a reliable and competitive airline and a complete privatisation of the National Rail Services.
Reliable transport infrastructure is what will eventually revive the tourism sector in Zimbabwe.
Tourists are desperate to visit Zimbabwe, they just don’t want it to be difficult. Daily and reliable air, road and rail transport services would alleviate much tourist angst.
The lack of money and a lack of discipline in maintaining basic facilities has seen a real drop in infrastructure standards.
Zimbabwe needs to build a long term tourism policy for the systematic upgrades of all our major tourist hubs.
Whilst that might not seem like a feasible idea from a financial point of view, the government could always provide incentives for substantial private investment that would boost the entire area’s trade and provide employment.
How to Change the Image of Zimbabwe
Have you watched English Premier League football lately?
If you are unfortunate enough to be an Arsenal fan (as I am) then you will see “Visit Rwanda” plastered over the players arm every match day.
If you watch CNN or BBC News you will be bombarded by “Visit South Africa” adverts coming your way every few minutes. You can’t miss it – that’s the point
Let’s get our story out there
Heard much positive news from Zimbabwe lately?
In this modern day and age it is all about exposure, getting the message out and more importantly getting the message to the right people.
A branded Instagram campaign using the right influencers would do miracles for (relatively) very little money.
Imagine paying somebody like Kendall Jenner to visit Zimbabwe for two weeks and share her experiences on Instagram with real stories.
Suddenly in two weeks 100 million young and wealthy Americans would know what a wonderful place Zimbabwe was to visit.
Do it with a dozen or so of the right profile of influencers and you have an entire army of people not only educated and wealthy but excited about the possibility of visiting Zimbabwe.
We need to make every little detail as easy as possible for international travellers
Zimbabwean tourism has unlimited potential, the potential to be amongst the most successful safari destination in Africa but we cannot just build a “seven- star” resort ( whatever that means ) in the middle of Victoria Falls and assume all of a sudden the masses will flock.
Instead of obnoxious theme parks and tacky hotels, let’s be authentically Zimbabwean, let’s focus on what we are best at which is being a friendly, warm people who are caring, smiling, proud hosts.
Zimbabwe should focus on getting every little detail right. From the moment an eager tourist arrives at the airport or the border post we must focus on making that persons experience incredible. Small steps – have friendly staff at the airports with bottled water, maps, information, free caps…whatever.
Let’s face it Zimbabwe comes with a reputation so any tourists who brave all the terrible media they consume to actually come, see and spend money here should be exulted and cherished.
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If Zimbabwe is on your bucket-list, then reading a book set in the country will definitely enhance your travel experience.
Whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, set in the past or present day, it will surely turn your adventure into an enlightening undertaking.
Here’s a review of 5 books that will help you navigate the complex cultural and socio-political landscape of your destination.
1. A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa by Frederick Courteney Selous,
First published : 1881
This book tells the story of Frederick Courteney Selous, generally acknowledged as the greatest African hunter of all time. While Selous was first and foremost a hunter, he was also a close personal friend of President Theodore Roosevelt and a naturalist whose careful observations and succinct writings were read by layman and scholar alike. The African wing of the British Museum of Natural History is named after him, and the crack special forces unit in the Zimbabwe War of Independence was named the Selous Scouts.
2. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
First published :1988
Set in the late 1960’s — 1970’s, Tsitsi Dangarembga’s 1988 novel “Nervous Conditions” (1988) tells the story of an adolescent girl growing up in rural Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).A modern classic in the African literary canon and voted in the Top Ten Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, this novel brings to the politics of decolonization theory the energy of women’s rights. An extraordinarily well-crafted work, this book is a work of vision. Through its deft negotiation of race, class, gender and cultural change, it dramatizes the ‘nervousness’ of the ‘postcolonial’ conditions that bedevil us still. In Tambu and the women of her family, we African women see ourselves, whether at home or displaced, doing daily battle with our changing world with a mixture of tenacity, bewilderment and grace.
3. Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa by Peter Godwin
First published :1996
Mukiwa opens with Peter Godwin, six years old, describing the murder of his neighbor by African guerillas, in 1964, pre-war Rhodesia. Godwin’s parents are liberal whites, his mother a governement-employed doctor, his father an engineer. Through his innocent, young eyes, the story of the beginning of the end of white rule in Africa unfolds. The memoir follows Godwin’s personal journey from the eve of war in Rhodesia to his experience fighting in the civil war that he detests to his adventures as a journalist in the new state of Zimbabwe, covering the bloody return to Black rule. With each transition Godwin’s voice develops, from that of a boy to a young man to an adult returning to his homeland. This tale of the savage struggle between blacks and whites as the British Colonial period comes to an end is set against the vividly painted background of the myserious world of Southern Africa..
4. The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
First Published: 2009
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Douglas Rogers is the son of white farmers living through that country’s long and tense transition from postcolonial rule. He escaped the dull future mapped out for him by his parents for one of adventure and excitement in Europe and the United States. But when Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe launched his violent program to reclaim white-owned land and Rogers’s parents were caught in the cross fire, everything changed. Lyn and Ros, the owners of Drifters–a famous game farm and backpacker lodge in the eastern mountains that was one of the most popular budget resorts in the country–found their home and resort under siege, their friends and neighbors expelled, and their lives in danger. But instead of leaving, as their son pleads with them to do, they haul out a shotgun and decide to stay.
5. Sibanda and the Rainbird by C M Elliot
First published :2013
Sibanda and the Rainbird introduces Detective Inspector Jabulani Sibanda, a bush-savvy policeman stationed in a large village on the borders of a national park in rural Matabeleland, Zimbabwe.
Sibanda’s expertise often outranks – and frustrates – his colleagues, not least his superiors. But when Sibanda isn’t feeling challenged enough, there’s always his courtship of local beauty Khanyi Mpofu to keep him busy and further distract him from his memories of Berry Barton who he met while studying in the UK.
However, Sibanda soon encounters more pressing matters. A horribly mutilated corpse is discovered in the park near the luxurious Thunduluka Lodge. At first it looks like the corpse was savaged by vultures, but Sibanda quickly concludes that the victim was murdered for body parts and from then on nothing is quite like it seems.
With Sibanda are his trusty sidekicks: Sergeant Ncube and Miss Daisy. Ncube is an overweight, many-wived mechanical genius and Miss Daisy is an ancient, truculent Land Rover that is the apple of Ncube’s eye. And then there is the bush itself, explored through Sibanda’s passion for and encyclopaedic knowledge of it, which emerges as a character in its own right in this madcap, contemporary African adventure.
Harare is home to some remarkable art galleries, historical artefacts, botanical gardens and wildlife reserves.
p style=”text-align: justify;”>There are a variety of restaurants both downtown and in the city’s leafy suburbs for food lovers.Harare’s bars will have night lovers a sweating till the break of dawn.
Just outside the capital Harare, one can enjoy an incredible view of the city from the orange domes in Domboshava.
Water lovers and avid fishers will also be thrilled to know that there are dams of all sizes near the city. Some of the dams are perfect for fishing (like Darwendale Dam) or skiing (like Arcadia Dam or Lake Chivero).
9 . GONAREZHOU
The country’s second biggest game reserve, derives its name from a Shona term meaning, “place of the elephants”. The elephants at Gonarezhou are believed to be the largest in the region.
It is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park which links Gonarezhou with Kruger and Limpopo National Parks. This huge Park – also known as a peace park – spans across boundaries of 3 countries.
The Park is home to the Chilojo Cliffs. These beautiful red sandstone cliffs overlook the picturesque Runde River. The Save and Mwenezi are two other major rivers in the Park which attract birdlife, wildlife and fish.
8. EASTERN HIGHLANDS
The Eastern Highlands is a magnificent mountain range forming a border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The sparsely populated highlands have a wetter and cooler climate than the rest of Zimbabwe. and their picturesque rolling hills covered with grassland, render the area a natural holiday destination.
Vumba – or Bvumba – Mountains can be accessed by road and are located some 25km to the east of Mutare. The mountains are popularly known as the Mountains of the Mist as mist – bvumba, in Shona – is often seen rising on most mornings.
Bird watchers will find interest in the botanical gardens which shelter birds such as Swynnerton’s robin and Chirinda apalis.
7. CHIZARIRA NATIONAL PARK
Chizarira National Park is the third largest in Zimbabwe. Some believe it is also the most remote wilderness area in the country. Its name comes from Chijalila – a Batonka word – which means, “great barrier”.
The terrain here is rugged: jagged mountains deeply incised by gorges and ravines. In between, in the valleys and the odd open plain, you’ll find lush vegetation fed by clear natural springs.
This has long made Chizarira National Park a great place to appreciate the tranquility of the African bush Chizarira National Park is a good spot to locate the leopard – a shy creature which prefers rocky habitats..
6. MANA POOLS
Situated in lower Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park attracts quite a lot of large animals searching water supplies.
This makes the park one of Africa’s most prominent spots for game viewing.
Mana Pools is believed to hold the country’s biggest concentration of hippopotami and crocodiles.
In the area, you can also expect to see other threatened species including the lion and cheetah and near-threatened species such as the leopard and brown hyena.
Kariba is home to the Big Five, various bird and animal species. It is a perfect spot for a vacation with so much fun activities to partake in.
The Lake in Kariba is the world’s largest man-made lake (by volume); Lake Kariba forms a boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Lying on the southern shore of the lake is Matusadona National Park, once a rugged area before the 1950’s but now an area teeming with diverse wildlife.
Other animals, visitors can expect to see include night apes, honey badgers, civets, banded mongoose, spotted hyenas, wild cats, lions, leopards, yellow spotted dassies, black rhinoceros and zebras.
4. GREAT ZIMBABWE
Masvingo, the third largest province in Zimbabwe occupying about 56 566 square kilometers.
The province is home to Great Zimbabwe ruins, the largest collection of ruins in Southern Africa. a UNESCO World Heritage site
The ruins are not only a national monument but a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are located about 27kms southeast of Masvingo city and around 7kms from Lake Mutirikwi. Its soapstone bird carvings are a national emblem.
A guided tour of the Ruins will take you through the three sectors– the Hill Complex once (inhabited by the King), the Great Enclosure (once inhabited by the King’s first wife and the Valley Enclosure (where all the other wives lived) .
3. HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
One of the popular Protection Zones in Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park borders Zimbabwe and Botswana. It is located on the main road between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. Covering about 14 651 square kilometres, it is the largest game reserve in Zimbabwe.
Home to an estimated 40,000 elephants, all the Big Five and more than 400 species of birds, Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s top safari resorts. The national park, which was home to the famous Cecil – the lion – for about 13 years, was established in 1928. Initially, it was seen as a game reserve before being accorded National Park status in 1961.
2. MATOBO NATIONAL PARK
Established in 1926 it is one of the oldest national parks in Zimbabwe.
It is believed to be home to over 200 species of trees, including mountain acacia, wild pear, paper bark tree and fig tree.
There are also many aloes, wild herbs and over 100 grass species. The park has the world’s highest concentration of the African Black Eagle and leopards, both of which feed on the rock hyrax, a common resident in this balancing rock environment.
Other bird species include the fish eagle, martial eagle, pied crow and Egyptian geese.
1 . VICTORIA FALLS
Lying in north-west Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls National Park is open to visitors throughout the year. A key feature of the park is the evergreen rainforest which is continually watered by the never-ending sprays of the Falls.
Victoria Falls National Park is home to wildlife including white rhino, eland and the Cape buffalo. Visitors to the park can enjoy viewing these animals during their game drives and walking safaris.
No – You will not get shot at!
Zimbabwe is in the news again, this time, for all the wrong reasons – not for our splendid sights, fabulous wildlife, incredibly warm & welcoming people or budget friendly accommodation but for difficult dark days of unrest in the cities.
To say that everything in Zimbabwe is fine would be untrue & disingenuous.
NO doubt – things are very tough – Zimbabwean people are suffering.
However as a tourist in Zimbabwe you are STILL very SAFE from violence.
If you love Zimbabwe as we do (and I know many of you are just as passionate as us) then you will know that we are a resilient people.
We have taken the set-backs in our stride, shed our tears and are back on our feet.
If you love Zimbabwe as we do (and I know many of you are just as passionate as us) then you will know that we are a resilient people.
We have taken the set-backs in our stride, shed our tears and are back on our feet.
The unnecessary suffering can get so hard for us Zimbabweans – we always seem to be going from crisis to crisis – lurching between metaphorical fires – desperately trying to put them out.
We Relish The Challenge.
At Matobo Hills Lodge we want to be that bright shining light in the darkness.
A company that pursues greatness no matter how high the hurdles we may have to stride.
We will stay strong and resolute.
We will continue to aspire to the highest international standards of hospitality – regardless of how big the challenge maybe.
Our yearning to be part of a better Zimbabwe for both its tourist’s & its people could not be stronger.
We seek to be the torch bearer of a new generation of African Safari Experiences – Disrupting the traditional over priced Zimbabwean safari model.
At Matobo Hills Lodge –
We are serving the same high standard of cuisine, our bar is fully stocked, our vehicles are fueled up and ready to take you off to track rhinos, visit painted caves, share a laugh with local villagers and clamber over rocks in our ravishing wilderness.
Our pool is blue and sparkling and our welcome is warmer than ever.
See You Soon…!