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The sacred land to the Ndebele people, and rightly so, the Matobo Hills have a transcendental quality to them. The serene silence that surrounds the precariously balanced boulders is enough to satisfy any spiritual craving.
The other-worldly scene leads visitors through paint-splattered passages of lichen toward caves filled with intricate drawings from ancient hunter gatherer civilisations. The terracotta rock formations are decorated with reds, yellows, greens and blacks and as are their famously fluorescent inhabitants: the lizards.
It’s therefore humorous that the word ‘Matobo’ derives from a more literal place. As much as these bellowing boulders are magical and sublime, they also resemble something else.
A local term for ‘a man with a balding head’, the Matobo Hills don’t take their name from their rich history or cultural prevalence but – frankly – what they really look like… A few bulbous heads popping out from the vast landscape.
Nevertheless, this unscathed valley highlights the raw power of Africa.
The Matobos are also home to the resting place of Cecil Rhodes. Visiting this controversial grave amongst the kopjes, not only supplies some of the most unique views in Zim, but also historical insight. Cecil Rhodes was the founder of Rhodesia and despite a contested reputation, he was the first and only white settler to get the traditional blessing from the Ndebele tribe.
There isn’t really a bad time to go to the Matobos. The Dry Season (Winter) runs from April to October. At this time, game viewing is easy due to the lack of vegetation, the skies will be bright and sunny and due to the dry climate, malaria risk is lower. The Wet Season (Summer) runs from November to April. Whilst wildlife viewing may be harder due to dense forest thickets, the sights are really rewarding. With newborn animals in abundance, and migratory birds in the area, this time of year still has its perks. However, it’s worth checking availability in lodges, as some close down in the low season (summer).
Live as the bushmen did 2,000 years ago. In the ‘place of ancient spirits’, stay in a lodging sculpted with recycled wood woven into the surrounding granite. From here you can venture off on foot or by vehicle to track the rhino; the Matobo Hills is one of the last bastions of both black and white rhino in Africa.
The granite topography boasts more than 2,000 sites of San tribes and is the riches source of Bushmen rock art known. Drive through the granite hills in the footsteps of Cecil John Rhodes toward his famous tomb known as the “View of the World”.