Tembea : MATOPO Hills

The Matobo or Matopos Hills are an area of granite kopjes or rocks and wooded valleys commencing some 35 kilometers south of Bulawayo, southern Zimbabwe. The impressive landscape is protected within the Matopos National Park. The Hills were formed over 2000 million years ago with granite being forced to the surface, this has eroded to produce smooth "whaleback dwalas" and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation. Mzilikazi, founder of the old Ndebele nation, gave the area its name, from the Ndebele word Amatobo meaning 'Bald Heads'.
L-R : Matopos Hills ; Mother and child rock
L-R : Matopos Hills ; Mother and child rock

The Matobo or Matopos Hills are an area of granite kopjes or rocks and wooded valleys commencing some 35 kilometers south of Bulawayo, southern Zimbabwe.

The impressive landscape is protected within the Matopos National Park. The Hills were formed over 2000 million years ago with granite being forced to the surface, this has eroded to produce smooth "whaleback dwalas" and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation. Mzilikazi, founder of the old Ndebele nation, gave the area its name, from the Ndebele word Amatobo meaning 'Bald Heads'.

The Hills cover an area of about 3100 square kilometres, of which 440 km² is National Park, the remainder being largely communal land and a small proportion of commercial farmland. Part of the national park is set aside as a game park, which has been stocked with game including black and white Rhinoceros. This covers some 100 km² of beautiful scenery including some spectacular balancing rocks and impressive views along the Mpopoma river Valley.

The local Matabele people called the spectacular scenery of bare granite hills and scattered boulders Malindidzimu “the place of ancestor spirits” and it is believed that the San Bushmen also held the hills in high regard, painting remarkable scenes in various caves.

The gravity-defying boulders scattered all over the countryside to create a quite unique and rather mysterious landscape and also have great cultural and religious significance. Tribes over the centuries have taken refuge there in times of war, Stone Age hunter-gatherers have decorated caves with beautiful drawings and Cecil Rhodes is buried here.

The most spectacular areas within the grassy valleys, dense woodland and rivers lie between hump-backed granite hills and the broken blocks of castle kopjes. Animals wander through the wilderness and drink from the dammed lakes that are sprinkled around the park.

No wonder Cecil Rhodes, Zimbabwe’s colonial leader loved the area to such an extent that he wanted to be buried at World’s View, his favourite place in the Matopos. His burial site can be visited in the park.

The national park is home to wildlife such as rhino, giraffe, hippo and a large leopard population as well as birdlife such as the Black Eagle. Excellent examples of San rock paintings can be seen at the Nswatugi Cave. It also has the highest concentration of Black Eagles - which are only found in this kind of mountainous country.

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