Everything You Need To Know About Matobo National Park
Matobo national Park is located around 34kms to the South of the city of Bulawayo. This green park was established in 1926 and is also the oldest national park in Zimbabwe.
Matobo National Park teems with diverse plant, bird and animal species. It has over 200 tree species including mountain acacia, wild pear, paper bark tree and fig tree. The park also has many aloes, wild herbs and over 100 grass species.
Matobo National Park is an enthralling gallery of balancing rocks which formed over 3 billion years of erosion. Truly, this landscape is unique in the remarkable range of African scenery and experiences it provides.
Did you also know?
Matobo National Park has the world’s highest concentration of the Black eagle. AND leopards too. The dense population of leopards is because of the abundant dassies which, reportedly, make up 50 per cent of their diet.
Other bird species that can be found at the Park include the fish eagle, martial eagle, francolin, secretary bird, weavers, pied crow and Egyptian geese.
In addition, it is one of the last sanctuaries for the Black and White Rhino. In Southern Africa!
If you visit the reserve, and we hope you will, you are more likely to see White Rhino than Black Rhino. The reason? White Rhino is more social and can be found grazing in open areas. However, the Black Rhino is more private and spends its time browsing twigs in thick vegetation.
By the way, do you know how to tell the two species apart? If you need help identifying the differences, read our blog on those differences here.
Besides the Rhino, other animals you can expect to see at Matobo National Park include giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich and sometimes, leopard.
Matobo National Park in the International Spotlight
This Rhino sanctuary is a World Heritage Site. UNESCO bestowed this title upon it in 2003. This is due to the its cultural, aesthetic, and historical significance.
Matobo National Park shares this significant title with –
- The mighty Victoria Falls – one of the seven natural wonders of the world,
- Khami Ruins – the second largest stone monument in the nation,
- The arresting Mana Pools – a picturesque setting for avid photographers and
- Great Zimbabwe, also listed in the 2016 World Monuments Watch List.
Matobo National Park is also listed in the 2018 World Monuments Watch List.
This list contains 25 sites in over 30 territories and it highlights “their challenges, opportunities, and the communities that cherish them”.
The World Monuments Watch List is a call to action meant to preserve these sites.
Matobo National Park is also one of the eight sites on that List selected to receive a grant by the World Monuments Fund. These funds will be directed towards efforts to preserve the landscape.
You might be wondering,
Where Does the Name “Matobo” National Park Come From?
History has it that the Karanga people referred to the Matobo region as “madombo” meaning stones.
The distinct appearance of the rolling Matobo hills was the reason behind the area’s name.
The founder and leader of the Ndebele nation, King Mzilikazi, is said to have named the balancing rocks “matobo”, a Ndebele term meaning “bald heads”.
More Fun Facts on Matobo National Park
Matobo National Park is a recreational park. This means travelers are free to walk around and explore the scenic reserve.
The park is rich in historical and cultural aspects. Thus, it is an excellent spot for educational trips for schools, colleges and universities.
For thousands of years, Matobo National Park was home to the artistic San or Bushmen people. Caves in which they sought shelter bear evidence of the way of living of these hunter-gatherers.
These caves, such as Silozwane and Nswatugi, contain some of the world’s most remarkable rock paintings.
Matobo Hills – a Sacred Landscape
Unsurprisingly, Matobo National Park has long been regarded as a place of great spiritual importance. Some of the largest granite domes are sacred mountains.
It has long been held that they must not be pointed at for fear of causing disrespect to the spirits that occupy them.
Before the beginning of each rainy season and in times of drought, people from throughout Zimbabwe and beyond come to the Matobo shrines to pray for rain.
Indeed, there is so much about this sacred park that unsurprisingly, draws many – near and far – to it.
For more information on Matobo National Park, click here –