the matopos hills

the best of africa

The Matopos Hills is a particularly beautiful place and is one of Africa’s best-kept secrets. We feel that we must share this place with the citizens of the world

This place is home to the highest concentration of leopards on the planet. It is also home to a large population of black and white rhinos.

The Matopo Hills offers visitors an experience unlike anywhere else in Africa. A combination of various activities, dramatic scenery and rich species diversity and vivid, engaging history ensure a memorable visit for anybody that has the privilege to include this place in their Zimbabwe itinerary.

Looking at the rock formations one might imagine they were the result of some tumultuous eruption or explosive force. They were formed by imperceptible erosion over two thousand million years. The hills have been sculpted by the elements from massive blocks of granite that originated deep within the Earth’s crust. Heat and cold, freeze and thaw, wind and rain all helped.  First, the outer blanket of the earth was stripped away, then valleys were carved out along natural lines of weakness. As the surrounding landscape was eroded, hills began to stand proud and take on their present-day shapes.

Under National Parks’ protection, wildlife flourishes here. White rhinos were successfully reintroduced. The hills are now home to the country’s largest population of white and black rhinos and the game park is designated an Intensive Preservation Zone for their protection.

Sable antelope are found in the valleys, with herds of up to 40 animals not uncommon. Klipspringer inhabits the hills, bounding from rock to rock and scaling vertical faces with ease. Evolution has equipped them with rounded, rubbery hooves for better grip and hollow quill-like hair to cushion them from falls and scratches.   The balancing castle kopjes are the domain of the rock hyrax. Like city-dwellers in high-rise flats, they are often seen taking the early morning sun on their balconies but are always back indoors before the first thermals of the day tempt birds of prey into the air.

“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.” - Richard Mullin

Another major threat to a dassie’s safety is the leopard.  The key to the dense population is abundant food. Hyrax make up almost 50% of a Matobo leopard’s diet.  

Also common among the rocks are vervet monkeys and chacma baboons. 

Nearly one-third of the world’s 47 eagle species nest in the hills. African hawk eagles and martial eagles are among the most spectacular, while yellow-billed kites scavenge the picnic sites and roadsides for scraps. Caves and ledges are home to several owls, including the rare Mackinder’s eagle owl, a sub-species of the Cape eagle owl. Snake eagles are drawn to the hills by the reptiles that abound. The rocks are the perfect habitat for Egyptian cobras and puff adders, while pythons are found in the river valleys. Lizards, including the five-striped skink and the multi-colored Platysaurus capensis, will be found in every crevice. Like the kites, the lizards have become adept scavengers. Gangs of them will scramble for food thrown at them and, with their blue-green heads and red and yellow bodies, they make excellent photographic subjects. 

Rich in history, adventure, and wildlife, any vacation to Zimbabwe would be incomplete without a visit to Matobo National Park.  

The Matopos Hills is rated 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor