Matobo National Park

Idyllically located in the spectacular Matobo Hills in southwestern Zimbabwe, and only an hour from Bulawayo, the renowned Matobo National Park is known for its rich human history, its remarkably diverse flora and fauna and its magnificent and breathtaking rugged terrain.

Matobo National Park

This unspoiled natural wilderness features a range of massive red-tinged, granite boulders interspersed with gorgeous wooded valleys making it a dream destination for hikers, climbers and nature lovers alike. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the unsung highlights in Zimbabwe, and rightly considered the spiritual heartbeat of the country.

The name of the area, Matobo (or sometimes Matopos), was given to it in the 1840s by Mzilikazi, founder of the Ndebele nation. The park was officially established in 1926 as the Rhodes Matopos National Park and received its UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2003.

The reserve is compact (424 km2/164 sq mi), easily accessible and is home to an impressive range of African wildlife. Adjoining the main part of the national park is a small, intensively protected park containing Zimbabwe’s highest concentration of White and Black Rhinoceros. Matobo offers the best chance of seeing these endangered species in the country. Other animals in the park include Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest, Greater Kudu, Common Eland, Sable Antelope, Giraffe, Cheetah, Hippopotamus, Common Warthog, Common Rock Hyrax and Nile Crocodile as well as (supposedly) Africa’s largest concentration of Leopard.

From a birding perspective, the park boasts the world’s largest concentration of Verreaux’s Eagles, along with African Hawk-eagle, Wahlberg, Crowned, Martial and African Fish Eagle, Bateleur, Augur Buzzard, Lanner and Peregrine Falcon, Gabar Goshawk, Secretarybird, Cape Eagle-owl, Boulder Chat, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Southern Hyliota, Mottled Swift, Freckled Nightjar, African Pygmy Goose, Purple-crested Turaco and many more. A total of about 300 avian species have been recorded in the park.

The Matobo Hills is an area of high botanic diversity, with over 200 species of tree recorded in the national park, including the Mountain Acacia, South African Wild Pear and the Paperbark Thorn. There are also many aloes, wild herbs and over 100 grass species. Many types of rare endemic plants have been recorded in the park and surrounds.

Matobo also contains many historical sites, including the burial sites of Cecil John Rhodes, Leander Starr Jameson and Sir Charles Coghlan. There are also 3,000 vitally important San rock art painting sites, along with various archaeological finds dating back as far as the Pre-Middle Stone Age.

Matobo is home to some memorable accommodation options, some of which are designed around the boulders themselves. There are numerous activities to be had in Matobo, including game viewing, hiking, trail running, mountain biking, horse riding, fishing and searching for mushrooms.

Join one of our Zimbabwe Safaris and Tours to experience this wonderful safari destination with us.