​Overview – Matobo NP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip has traveled through Zimbabwe several times and is the author of more than 20 guidebooks to various African destinations.

Philip is the Zimbabwe expert for SafariBookings and author of more than 20 guidebooks to Africa.

Philip is our Zimbabwe expert and author of more than 20 guidebooks to Africa.

Matobo National Park protects a breathtaking landscape of bald granite outcrops and gravity-defying balancing rocks. A scenic highlight is World’s View, a commanding granite whaleback topped by Cecil John Rhodes’ tomb. Often referred to as Matopos, the park hosts an abundance of prehistoric rock art, and while wildlife viewing is slow, it’s the best place in Zimbabwe to track rhinos.

Best Time To Go June to October (Middle to end of the Dry season)
High Season July to September (Matobo doesn't get too busy)
Size 445km² / 172mi²
Altitude 1,169-1,462m / 3,835-4,797ft

Pros & Cons

  • Dramatic rock landscape
  • Great birding destination, especially for raptors
  • Excellent rock art
  • Rhino tracking on foot
  • Good park for self-drive visitors
  • Easily visited as a day trip from the nearby city of Bulawayo
  • Accommodation options for different budgets available
  • Limited variety of safari animals (no elephant and lion)
  • Limited road network

Matobo NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Matobo has no lion or elephant, but the secretive black rhino is present and white rhino can be tracked on foot with a high success rate. The hills of Matobo are textbook leopard territory and the park reputedly supports Zimbabwe’s densest concentration of this agile cat, but sightings are uncommon and generally fleeting. Another animal associated with the hilly terrain is the klipspringer, which is often found in pairs hopping from rock to rock.

Scenery

Two types of granite formations dominate the scenery. Huge, smooth, gray whaleback hills rise up from the plains. Even more dramatic are the balancing piles of angular-shaped rocks, which look like giant children’s toys carefully stacked on top of each other. This distinctive rocky landscape, together with the prehistoric rock art it protects, has led to the park being inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Activities

The most popular activity is the scenic drive to Rhodes’ grave, which involves a short, steep climb from a car park. This is easily combined with white rhino tracking and/or a visit to see some rock art (Nswatugi Cave is the most impressive of the more accessible sites). Other activities include game drives in Whovi Wilderness Area (home to both rhino species) and guided hikes to remote rock paintings.

Weather & Climate

During Matobo’s Dry season (April to October), sunny days are the norm, but early mornings and evenings are chilly. During the Wet season (November to March), heavy afternoon downpours interrupt the bright conditions.

Best Time To Visit

Matobo is best visited from June to October, during the middle and end of the Dry season. This coincides with the high season, but you’ll rarely be troubled by anything resembling a crowd here. You will, however, get to see slightly more wildlife at this time, with the animals gathering around the available water sources. The wetter months from November to April are favored by birders.

Want To Visit Matobo NP?

16 Matobo Safaris

Matobo NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Mark Eveleigh  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for Condé Nast Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.

Iconographic Zimbabwean Scenery With Its Stunning Kopjes
4/5

More than just a wonderful scenic spot or a wildlife refuge, Matobo National Park is one of the cultural highlights of Zimbabwe. It should in fact be considered one of the world’s ‘power places’ – right up there alongside Great...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Elizabeth  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Sep 1, 2019
5/5

The park is well run, with good roads and tracks. The scenery is spectacular, and the rock art we saw was the best we'd seen in our journey. There are no elephants, and not a huge amount of other wildlife, but we were there to see rhino,...

Full Review