Matobo National Park occupies a total area of 44 500 hectares. Established in 1953, the Park was awarded Unesco World Heritage Status in June 2003. The Park has an intensive Protection Zone where a large population of Black and White Rhinoceros are successfully breeding.
The park is situated in the magnificent Matobo Hills, a range of domes, spires and balancing rock formations which have been hewn out of the solid granite plateau through millions of years of erosion and weathering. The majestic and rugged terrain of the park is a hiker’s paradise and the diversity of the vegetation supports a wide range of wildlife.
Matobo meaning ‘bald heads’ was the name chosen for the area by the great Ndebele King, Mzilikazi. He is buried in the Matobo Hills just a short distance from the park. The National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. He is buried at the summit of Malindidzimu -‘ hill of benevolent spirits’. He referred to this hill as having a ‘View of the World’. A short walk from the parking lot will lead the visitor to his grave, which is carved out of the solid granite hill and surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of massive boulders.
The Matobo area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place. Within the park are numerous sites with rock paintings done by the San hunter-gatherers who once occupied this park.
There is a wide variety of animals in the park including: black and white rhinoceros, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, kudu, eland, sable, klipspringer, leopard, hyena, cheetah, hippo, warthog, rock dassies, waterbuck, wildcat, springhare, common duiker, crocodiles, baboons and monkeys. The park is famous for its large concentration of black eagles, which can be seen perched atop the rock formations or soaring along the cliffs in search of prey. Some of the other bird species that can be found include, fish eagle, martial eagle, francolin, secretary bird, weavers, pied crow and Egyptian geese.