Matobo Hills

Rolling Hills in Zimbabwe, with a remarkable number of animals

Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe are granite hills and rocks, which are remarkably round. This World Heritage site is also famous for its wild animals, such as rhinos. There is also ancient rock art by our ancestors in this area.

Welcome to a very remote area of Africa. Matobo Hills is a mythical place with an ancient history. It’s a perfect place to explore on your own accord.

The San people lived in these hills until about 2.000 years ago. These hunter-gatherers are still recognised to be the first humans on earth. It’s even possible they were the very first homo sapiens.

For its current local people, the Shona, it is also a sacred place. This is the realm of the spirits, and there are many myths. One of them tells that about fifty years ago there was a mysterious voice that could be heard in one of the caves.

Hiking in Matobo Hills

A view of the Matobo Hills. ©Corno van den Berg

It’s easy to get lost in the Matobo Hills, it’s about 3.100 km2 in size, and about 400 km2 of that belongs to the Matobo National Park. But you see many ‘rolling’ hills here in the landscape. On top on the hills are remarkable boulders, the so-called kopjes, meaning heads in Afrikaans.

Rhino Walking Safari

Matobo is a great place to walk, to take photos and to admire the sunset. And also to spot wild animals. To prove this, you can take what is know as a rhino walking safari.

It’s a unique excursion where you head out in a jeep first, while the guide teaches you about the park, the landscape and its animals. When you get to the animals, you'll be amazed. And that happens quite often.

Grave of Cecil Rhodes

The guide at Cecil Rhodes’ grave. ©Corno van den Berg

This is also where the grave of Cecil Rhodes is located, a controversial colonial Englishman. He founded Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe and Botswana. Rhodes struck it rich through the diamond trade. When Rhodes saw the Matobo Hills he insisted he be buried here. He named the area World’s View, which is obviously an apt name for the site.

Rock paintings

There are dozens of rock paintings in several caves. Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to distinguish what’s going on, but you can spot the humans quite easily (they are remarkably tall) and see animals such as giraffes and kudus. Several clay ovens and other historic artefacts have also been found in several of the caves.

Hill of the Spirits

On the top of a hill called Malindidzimu, the Hill of the Spirits, you can get a fantastic 360-view of the hills and rocks. These turn a remarkable red at sunset. It is the perfect end of a day.

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