Why Everybody Is Visiting The Matobo Hills.
WITH each day that passes, hundreds of visitors pull over at the Matobo National Park gate to register their arrival.
This is Zimbabwe’s oldest national park, one in which the republic’s history comes alive.
The Matobo National Park forms the core of the Matobo Hills World Heritage Site and Cultural Landscape – a 3 100 square km area which has the most tangible links to mankind’s pre-historic and modern past.
Bushmen Caves, Magnificent Balancing Rocks, and Wildlife – are major draw cards for travellers of all ages.
However, in addition to the above, Zimbabwe’s millennials are listing the world’s-away appeal and affordable luxury accommodation as the fundamental reason of visiting the Matobo Hills.
VISITING THE MATOBO HILLS
Yolanda Chitsinde, a 25-year-old from Harare drove twice to the Matobo Hills in July 2019 just to “turn – up” with friends.
On her debut trip to the Matobo Hills, Yolanda and squad had visited Bulawayo for a couple of days. They then decided, on their last day, to spend a couple of hours somewhere quieter, having a braai.
Just like that, Yolanda and crew ended up in the Matopos as Matobo is called by some, chilling at Rhodes grave before heading back to Bulawayo to dance their last night away.
Exactly one week later, Yolanda was back in the Matobo Hills to see more and do more with another set of three friends.
This time Yolanda and the three debutants spent the night at Matobo Hills Lodge and were treated to private guided tour of a stunning ancient cave, one of the many in the area that keeps attracting travellers from all over the world.
“Matobo is such a nice place, it’s a really spiritual place and historic, very important and amazing, Yolanda said.”
DISCOVERING NSWATUGI CAVE
“We went to the Nswatugi Cave, where the bushmen used to live, Yolanda recounted.” We saw a lot of rock paintings it was really beautiful art and it was a lot of history; it was a really nice experience – it was like I’m living in the past.”
Yolanda and friends marvelled at a Cape Zebra, giraffe, kudu and traditional wedding ceremony that were illustrated inside the walls of Nswatugi Cave.
One of Yolanda’s friends, Laura Masaraure described what she had seen inside the cave as amazing.
“It’s really fascinating where they [San Bushmen] learned this level of artistry,” said Laura in disbelief. “These are very good and elaborate paintings. There is so much interesting stuff to learn here, like how they actually made these paintings.”
Rumbidzai Mubvuta another friend of Yolanda was happy that the six-hour drive from Harare to the Matobo Hills had been worth the time.
Rumbidzai said she the whole crew was “tempted to spend the night in the cave because it was just beautiful, and they could not get over it.”
THE STAY AT MATOBO HILLS LODGE
Unfortunately, time was a huge constraint for Yolanda and company.
Sleeping in the cave was not a bad idea at all. It was just not pragmatic for the millennials who had a six-hour journey ahead of them and more importantly had to get back to adulting (work on Monday).
Instead, the closest they could get to living like the ancient hunters and gatherers was eating game meat. The crew arrived at Matobo Hills Lodge just in time for dinner and were delighted to find Impala and Warthog among the choice of entrees on the menu.
In Yolanda’s words, that ‘got to her’.
“The Impala meat that we had when we arrived here. It was really nice,” elaborated Yolanda. “It was my first-time having game meat and they prepared it really well, it was really nice.”
Over and above that, Yolanda was surprised by how vast the Matobo Hills area is. She confessed that she thought Matobo was just a small fenced area with Rhodes grave only and a few animals.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN THE MATOBO HILLS
Alas, there is so much to see and do in the area than a single day trip can accommodate. Yolanda and crew’s tour guide, listed so many other attractions that abound in the Matobo Hills, like:
- the Njelele Shrine,
- Mzilikazi’s grave,
- the Game Park which is stocked with Rhino, Zebra, Wildebeest, Antelopes and a host of other species of flora and fauna,
- many other caves,
- the Villages and the villagers,
- the Grain Bins,
- the dams ideal for fishing and picnics
- and 3 000 other registered rock art sites.
The tour guide, Tawanda Maphosa recommended that “to have a satisfactory experience in the Matobo Hills, travellers need to set aside at least two nights to explore the area.”
Clearly, Yolanda and squad will need to go back to the Matobo Hills to discover more.
But until Yolanda returns (most likely with a new set of friends), it will remain ingrained in her heart that the Matobo Hills experience is the G.O.A.T.
That is the reason why everybody is going to the Matobo Hills.