What a view from the top – Matobo Hills, Bulawayo


During our holiday in Zimbabwe, one of the places I particularly wanted to visit was Bulawayo, with its wide streets which it was said were designed so that one could turn an oxwagon being pulled by 16 horses!    The main attraction a short distance outside Bulawayo is the Matobo Hills, which is made up of huge granite outcrops and woodlands, and has a lot of wildlife, including white rhino, which unfortunately we did not see on our visit.

These granite hills are also famous for being the burial place of,  among others, Cecil John Rhodes, who was governor of Cape Town in the late 1800s, and was also the founder of the country Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia,  named after himself.  I wonder what the country would have been called, if his surname was something like Cameron, or Churchill, or even McGrath like me!   He was so taken with the beauty and splendour of the Matobo Hills, (Matopos) that he asked to be buried there, and his grave can still be seen at the top of the hill, gazing out at the surrounding countryside.  Leander Starr Jameson, another British pioneer was also buried here.

Cecil John Rhodes wrote in his final will:  I admire the grandeur and loneliness of the Matoppos – and therefore I desire to be buried in the Matoppos on the hill which I used to visit and which I called the View of the World, in a square to be cut in the rock on the top of the hill covered with a plain brass plate with these words thereon – ‘Here lie the remains of  Cecil John Rhodes’.

And here it is, to this day, with his exact words:

The grave of Cecil John Rhodes

The Panoramic view from the top

The Panoramic view from the top

Matobo is of great historic interest.  The Shrines, sacred places and burial sites of Ndebele kings such as Mzilikazi and Lobengula, British pioneers Rhodes and Jameson as well as Allan Wilson and his uniformed troops of the Shangani Patrol  are to be found in and around the Matobo Hills. It is also in these hills that Lord Baden-Powell founded the world-renowned Boy Scout movement.

Memorial to the Shangani patrol.

Memorial to the Shangani patrol.

To get to the top of the hill, and those amazing views, there is a short climb, and look out, on your way you will probably come across some green or blue-headed lizards, basking in the sun.   When I visited there in the 90s, there was an old caretaker who used to feed the lizards, and they all gathered around him when he came up the top of the hill.   When I looked up the name of these lizards, I was disappointed to read that they are called ‘common flat lizards’  – they looked far too exotic to have such a boring plain Jane name!

some lizards enjoying the sunshine

some lizards enjoying the sunshine

2013-03-23 10.21.36

The top of the hill is one enormous expanse of flat granite rock, with nothing growing on it, just more granite boulders resting in bunches here and there, like little families of boulders going about their business, and not minding all the other rocks and people around the place.  And these boulders are not little pebbles that could be moved if they were in the way of the view, most of them are taller than a fully grown person.

The first rocks we met as we climbed up the hill.

The first rocks we met as we climbed up the hill.

Another family of rocks

Another family of rocks

and another!

and another!

We did find a few trees that amazingly managed to survive, with very shallow roots, I don’t think that they could get very much nourishment in that barren place, but there they were.

A few trees among the rocks

A few trees among the rocks

Another panorama

Another panorama

one final boulder.

one final boulder.

Thanks to http://www.bulawayopublicity.com for some of the above information.

(All photos taken by me)

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. wildsherkin
    May 16, 2013 @ 23:00:48

    What a fantastic trip! At first glance,I thought the little lizards on the rocks were wall/cave paintings!

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  2. panos48
    May 17, 2013 @ 09:23:15

    Reblogged by http://www.southweb.co.za

    Like

    Reply

  3. Ruth2Day
    May 17, 2013 @ 10:20:30

    wow, those rocks are pretty amazing. I’ve only been to Bulawayo once on business, years ago. Had a great day trip to a national park, really lovely place

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    Reply

  4. Trackback: SA BLoggers – What a view from the top – Matobo Hills, Bulawayo
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