Matobo Hills

The Matobo National Park forms the core of the Matobo or Matopos Hills, an area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys commencing some 35 kilometres south of Bulawayo.

The Hills were formed over 2,000 million years ago with molten rock erupting across the landscape — this has eroded to produce smooth ‘whaleback dwalas’ and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation.

The Hills cover an area of about 3,100 km², of which 424 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 100 km² game park, which has been stocked with game including black and white rhinoceros.

The area exhibits a profusion of distinctive rock landforms rising above the granite shield that covers much of Zimbabwe. The large boulders provide abundant natural shelters and have been associated with human occupation from the early Stone Age right through to early historical times, and intermittently since. They also feature an outstanding collection of rock paintings.

The Matobo Hills continue to provide a strong focus for the local community, which still uses shrines and sacred places closely linked to traditional, social and economic activities.

The Matobo balancing rocks are the burial place of Cecil John Rhodes. Commanding a vista clear to the horizon, the name ‘World’s View’, could not be more appropriate for this enchanting piece of Zimbabwe.

Local excursions

Game drives and walking safaris can be enjoyed around the nearby Matopos National Park, as well as rhino tracking excursions by vehicle or on foot led by experienced and knowledgeable guides. You can also explore the area’s ancient rock art and discover the rocks that the San People saw as spiritually significant on guided tours, or trek to the grave of Cecil Rhodes, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony in the late 19th century.

 

Gonare Zhou National Park

Gonarezhou is a unique and special place of varied and scenic, rugged beauty and contains hidden secrets for those who know where to look. The ethos of the Park’s tourism is to tread as softly on this landscape as possible, whilst fully immersing oneself in the experience of being in this vast, wild space

Accommodation

The Park offers a variety of accommodation options, from remote wilderness campsites with no facilities to the comfort of the chalets at Swimuwini.

The main focus however remains on immersing oneself in the experience of being in nature through camping.  The three developed campsites, (Chipinda Pools, Chinguli and Mabalauta), have multiple sites at one spot with running water, a braai place, and access to shared ablution blocks with hot water and flushing toilets available.  The exclusive camping sites are the traditional bush experience where you camp in complete privacy, with just a ‘Blair’ toilet and braai area.  You are responsible for providing your own water and to be fully self-sufficient.  There are also a limited number of wilderness campsites in the Park. These sites shift annually depending on the availability of water in the pans in the central area of Gonarezhou where these sites are located.  There are no facilities at these sites, and visitors to these sites need to be aware that they are to leave no trace of their visit on their departure.

The chalets at Swimuwini have recently been refurbished, and offer visitors  a somewhat more comfortable park experience.  Chalets are equipped with solar geysers, lights, fridge/freezers and fully-equipped kitchens.  Cooking takes place on gas stoves or in the portable braai’s available at every unit.

The tented camp at Chipinda Pools is well established and very popular.  Tents are fully furnished, and have a small en-suite bathroom.  Secure kitchen units have a small gas stove and portable fridge/freezer.  As with Swimuwini, all power is solar, and solar geysers supply hot water.

Activities

The main activities on offer in the park include game viewing from vehicles and limited walking.   Some of the main roads in the Park, such as those around Mabalauta and the track down to the Chilojo Cliffs are accessible for 2 x 4 vehicles, but, for travellers who want to venture a bit further off the beaten path a 4 x 4 vehicle is a requirement.  Fishing is available for overnight visitors at specifically designated campsites along the Runde and Mwenezi rivers.

Chimanimani Adventure

Options                                                                                

Miombo Cottage                                                                 max 6pax

Miombo Cottage is double storey, with the main bedroom downstairs en suite. Upstairs are four single beds, dorm style. The cottage has two bathrooms, lounge with jetmaster fireplace and open plan dining area and kitchen.


Msasa Cottage                                                                    max 2pax

Msasa has a large open verandah and is next door to Miombo. Groups of six or more ideally book Msasa and Miombo – book well in advance to ensure both cottages are available for you.

Mzanje                                                                                   max 3pax

This little cabin has a jetmaster fireplace in the lounge, large kitchen, one shower and loo. Small outside sitting area and stone braai.


Facilities & What to bring

    • Your cottage is fully equipped for Self Catering. The kitchen has both gas and electric cookers and an outside stone braai in the garden. Firewood is supplied for your braai and for the fireplace inside the cottage. However if you are used to lighting charcoal and prefer it, you will need to bring your own. Charcoal is not available in Chimanimani. Fridge, freezer, kettle, toaster and microwave are available but standard.
    • Mobile phone reception is good. Econet, and NetOne. Wifi hotspot is also available.
    • Bring insect repellent for evening times. Chimanimani is considered malaria free but it will be good to just carry a repellent. Mosquito nets are provided over your bed to deter bugs attracted by lights.
    • Bring a torch. Square pin adaptors are available on request.
    • Sheets and towels are provided and your cottage is serviced daily if you wish. You do need to bring your own soaps and shampoo.
    • Chimanimani water is better than drinkable, it is delicious. However, as with most of Zimbabwe the municipal supply remains erratic. The team at Frog & Fern work on a daily basis keeping full tanks at the cottages but we recommend you carry a 5 litre container for your vehicle and/or walks because you may not always find water elsewhere in the village.
    • If you can possibly bring a 4×4 you will be thankful. Frog & Fern is only 2.2km from the tar. Be warned though – there is about 300 metres of road leading up a nasty little  hill to Frog & Fern that will require very careful driving. There are unlimited lovely walks right from your cottage door – so you need not use your vehicle again until departure.
    • Bring your favorite foods, beers and wine. In the village you can buy the absolute basics only. Bring your own braai meat. While beers and soft drinks can be found you are advised to bring your own wine and spirits with you.

activities

  • Haroni Botanical Reserve
  • Muhohwa, Haroni and Mukurupira waterfalls
  • Visit the hut up Chimanimani Mountains
  • Picnic and Camping at Bridal Veil Falls in Eland Sanctuary
  • Visit the Corner
  • Village tours in Chikukwa village
  • Nature walks in the national parks.
  • Visit the Hot springs in Nyanyadzi
  • Visit the Birchenough bridge
  • Mtn hiking
  • Birding
  • Scenic drives
  • River trailing
  • Caves
  • Rock paintings
  • Waterfalls
  • Educational visits to Shoe polish making.
  • Timber making industry.
  • Coffee
  • Tea industry.
  • Five-day hiking trail (Mbira trail )
  • Cultural tours/village walks