Rhodes Matopos (Matobo Hills) National Park

Situated in Matebeleland, South of Bulawayo

Zimbabwe has a number of diverse National Parks and the Matobo Hills NP is very special amongst them. The park is only 35 kilometres south of Bulawayo and is the perfect place to venture out to for a day of sightseeing or for a picnic or braai (BBQ). Alternatively for those wanting to stay over there is accommodation to cater for all tastes from the well appointed and very unique lodges such as Amalinda Lodge, Big Cave and Matobo Hills Lodges through to ZIMPARKS chalets and camp sites.

Tours can be arranged from Bulawayo or by the staff at your lodge or you can self drive but if you are wanting to see the San Bushmen paintings, visit ‘View of the World’, Maleme Dam, Cecil John Rhodes burial site, do birding, bush walking or animal trekking, it is recommended using a guide and you will get so much more out of your day. Some lodges have their own fully trained guides or can arrange one accordingly.

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Matopas National Park Website

The Matobo hills area, commonly known as the Matopas, is approximately 3100 sq kms of which 424 sq kms makes up the National Park with the remainder being largely communal land. Established in 1926 as Rhodes Matopos National Park, the park is the oldest in Zimbabwe and was a bequest from Cecil John Rhodes. The park extends along the Thuli, Mtshelele, Maleme and Mpopoma river valleys. The Matobo Hills were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

The area is characterised by a profusion of distinctive hilly granite rock formations. The hills were formed over 2 billion years ago with granite being forced to the surface through volcanic activity and this has eroded to produce smooth “whaleback dwalas” and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation. The highest point in the hills is the promontory named Gulati (1549 m) just outside the north-eastern corner of the park.

Mzilikazi, founder of the Ndebele nation, gave the area its name, ‘Matobo’, which means ‘Bald Heads’. The grandeur and stillness of the hills has contributed to their hallowed reputation and are of special significance to the Ndebele and Shona people. Many rituals and other religious activities are performed in the hills.

The San people (Bushmen) lived in the hills about 2,000 years ago, leaving a rich heritage of rock art for visitors to enjoy  and which documents the regions long history There are over 3,000 registered rock art sites, with the main periods of painting being between 320 and 500 C.E.

The Matobo Hills area has significant botanic diversity, with over 200 species of trees and there are also many aloes, wild herbs and over 100 species of grass. The Park also boasts 175 bird, 88 mammal, 39 snake and 16 fish species. Game includes Rhinoceros, Sable Antelope, Impala, Leopard, Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, and Ostrich. Matobo National Park contains the highest concentration and number of breeding pairs of black eagles, worldwide.

The Matopas area is a very special place to visit and is highly recommended. It is easily accessible from Bulawayo and offers a good variety of accommodation.  

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At A Glance



Camp Amalinda

Big Cave

Matobo Hills Lodge

Granite Ridge Chalets


ZIMPARKs Camp Sites

See ‘ZIMPARKS Rates’ above


Air and Road

Bulawayo Airport (Joshua Nkomo International) is 23 kms from Bulawayo.

There are daily direct flights from Harare and other flights three times a week from Victoria Falls via Kariba.

There are also daily direct flights  from Johannesburg and other centres. Check with your travel agent.


Matopas is 35 kms from Bulawayo. Transfers can be arranged with pick ups from the airport or from a pre-arranged venue in Bulawayo.

Taxis are also available at the airport.

Transfer fees are applicable.



  • San Bushmen paintings – Fine rock paintings – within the park are numerous sites which were once occupied by the San hunter-gatherers. The paintings at Nswatugi Cave are perhaps some of the finest in the country and contain beautiful renditions of giraffe, eland and kudu. There are other areas of note such as Bambata Cave, Inanke Cave and Silozwane Cave – just outside the park – that display fine animal paintings. The feint but distinct outline of a rhinoceros at the White Rhino Shelter was the impetus for the reintroduction of the species to the park in the 1960’s
  • Numerous cultural and historical sites
  • The Park has one of the largest concentrations of black and white rhinoceros making it easy to sight one or more of the large populations of this endangered species
  • ‘View of the World’
  • Cecil John Rhodes grave site
  • Maleme Dam
  • The unique balancing rock features
  •  Curio souvenir sales crafted by the local communities around the park





Bulawayo – Matopas 35 kms (22 miles)

Bulawayo – Beitbridge 320 kms (200 miles)

Bulawayo –  Gweru 164 kms (102 miles)

Bulawayo – Hwange 337 kms (210.63 miles)

Bulawayo – Harare 440 kms (274 miles)

Bulawayo – Kariba 803 kms (502 miles)

Bulawayo – Masvingo 280 kms (174 miles)

Bulawayo – Mutare 578 kms   (359 miles)

Bulawayo – Nyanga  686 kms (429 miles)

Bulawayo – Victoria Falls 438 kms (274 miles)

Harare – Gweru 277 kms (172 miles)

Harare – Masvingo 293 kms (183.13 miles)

Harare – Mutare 254 kms (158 miles)

Harare – Victoria Falls 878 kms (548.75 miles)

Masvingo – Gweru 164 kms (102.5 miles)

Hwange – Victoria Falls 102 kms (63.75 miles)

Location Pin

Flora and Forna


Matopas is home to a wide variety of animal species 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 richness of the Park can also be seen from the diverse bird life. 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. Bird species that can be found include: fish eagle, martial eagle, francolin, secretary bird, weavers, pied crow and Egyptian geese.


Species readily found in this Park include, bass, bottle fish, bream, catfish and robustus.


Matopas National Park has a mixed type of vegetation that ranges from Mopane, Acacia species, Brachstegia in other area, Figtrees, Azanza species, Zizphus species, Strychnos species and Terminalia species.

Activities and Attractions

There are a number of exciting things to whilst staying in the Matobo Hills (Matopas). These include:

  • Fishing
  • Walking safaris
  • Hiking
  • Guided walks
  • Game drives
  • Birding
  • Photography
  • Pony trail – around Maleme Dam
  • Matopas 33 miler road race – a unique marathon that is conducted within the Park

Nearby Attractions:

  • Matobo Hills National Park
  • Cecil John Rhodes grave and ‘View of the World’
  • Bulawayo (40 mins) – Natural History Museum, Art Gallery, Railway Museum, and Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre
  • Tshabalala Game Sanctuary (10 kms on the Matopas road)
  • Khami Ruins (22 kms from Bulawayo on Old Khami Road)
  • Maleme Dam


Sign Post


Matobo NP’s weather 

Matobo’s weather is temperate and fair. The warmest period is from September to March. May to August is colder during the day and gets very cold in the morning. The Dry season is made up of clear, sun-filled days from April to October. During the Wet season, which runs from November to March, rain tends to come in heavy afternoon showers and are often followed by sunshine. Alternately it can drizzle for days in succession. The winter and summer seasons occur at opposite times to Europe and North America. 

Dry season – April to October – Winter

  • April – There is sporadic rain as the Wet season comes to an end and it starts to cool down. Early morning game drives in open vehicles are cold.
  • May, June, July, August – Although August begins to get warmer, these are primarily cold and dry months, effecting the plant life and air as the season goes on. Daytime temperatures are around 23°C/73°F, but it gets very cold at night and in the early morning with average temperatures of around 5°C/41°F. Warm winter clothing is essential for early morning game drives.
  • September, October – With the exception of late October (the hottest month) and the arrival of the rainy season, these two months are dry. The rains arrival brings the first greenery and relief from the dusty air. It gets warmer during the day, with temperatures reaching over 28°C/82°F, and game drives in the morning are less cold.


Wet season – November to March – Summer

  • November – It rains steadily now, though not every day.
  • December, January & February – These are the wettest months, raining almost every day. They are mostly temporary showers, not lasting throughout the entire day, with the sun coming out afterward. However, constant drizzle may be present for a few days at a time. Daytime temperatures average 27°C/81°F while night and early morning average 15°C/59°F.
  • March – The end of the Wet season will slow-down the rains. Temperatures average between 27°C/81°F and 14°C/57°F.
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