I never thought much of the Matopos National Park, until now! The park, located less than an hour drive from Bulawayo, the second city of Zimbabwe, was a great find for us. Until now we had only stayed outside the park and only entered briefly to visit its main landmarks, quite a while ago.
This time, on our way to the Caprivi in Namibia, we decided to stay in the park to get a better feel for the place. In addition, I was reliably informed that some (very) large scorpions dwelled in its rocks. As rocks abound there the expectations were high and I anticipated to unearth a truly scorpion paradise!
We stayed at the Black Eagle Lodge in the Maleme area of the park. Apart from being comfortable, it is sited on a rock outcrop with magnificent views of a dam below, all framed by the rocky hills. An amazing place to relax! An added bonus was that we had first row seats for the first storms appearing over the park as the rains were just starting after the long dry season.
During our visit we decided to drive around rather than embarking on the few possible walks, some of them quite long. We also did not go into the game area of the park as we felt that we could see large animals in Namibia. The game section hosts two of the big five: white rhino (number and location undisclosed) as well as the elusive leopard.
We relished the landscape and were amazed by the rocky hills and their beautiful stone formations resembling castles and buildings to me but other things to more artistic people, I am sure. Particularly astonishing were a few weird stone formations that seem to be kept in equilibrium by some supernatural forces. The formations were like those depicted in the old Zimbabwe Dollar notes.
We also spent some time visiting Cecil Rhodes’ grave, reputed to be the most visited place in Zimbabwe after Victoria Falls! The short walk to reach it was well worth it as it offered an unsurpassed view of the surrounds. The view from the top of the hill, known as “World’s View”, was breathtaking.
Although we only had one full day at Matopos, we also managed to visit Nswatugi cave, after negotiating a rather tough track only possible with a 4WD and a rather short walk.
The San paintings it displays are considered among the best in Southern Africa. The observer cannot fail to see a couple of giraffes above a mass of animals and people and a large number of red dots, rather unexplained apart from the artistic side of the author. My favourites were a zebra and the head of a female greater kudu. This cave was painted between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago. I have selected my best shots to attempt to illustrate these beautiful paintings.
I will comment on the scorpions in a future post. The latter aside, what we saw convinced us that the Matopos is worth further future visits.