Tuesday February 3rd ~ Rhodes Matopos National Park and World’s View
Rhodes Matopos National Park (also called Matobo NP)
Located just 34 km (21 miles) south of Bulawayo, one finds yet another amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site. The grassy plains are broken up with massive granite domes, solid rock spires and huge boulder formations, many in acrobatic balancing positions; the result of millions of years of weathering and erosion.
Also known for its population of both white and the smaller, more rare, black rhino, our first hour is spent with our two guides hiking us up and down a couple of steep knolls to search the horizon in an effort to spot some game.
After the first climb became steep, I begged off and let Tim proceed on with some of the younger members of our group. I could have safely made the climb with enough time allowance, but this particular guide was running a marathon and I was not nearly fit enough to keep up with him. Nor did I want to slow the group down.
None of the big animals were spotted from either vantage point, and after a short debate, our group split into two – one half opting to go with the “speedy” guide and continue to look for rhinos and the other half set off toward World’s View.
Tim and I had been fortunate to be very close to, and photograph, a white rhino in Kruger National Park a couple of weeks earlier, so with no hesitation, we joined the World’s View group.
This was one of the areas I was most looking forward to seeing. I figured if this is where one of the wealthiest men that ever lived in Africa chose to be buried and had considered this the most beautiful view, I definitely wanted to check it out.
I surprisingly found very little information on the Internet regarding World’s View.
Cecil John Rhodes name may be familiar to many of you. Have you heard of Rhodes Scholars and Scholarships? How about the country of Rhodesia (that is now Zimbabwe)?
“The Rt Hon Cecil John Rhodes DCL (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) was a British businessman, mining magnate, and politician in South Africa. An ardent believer in British colonialism, Rhodes was the founder of the southern African territory of Rhodesia, which was named after him in 1895. South Africa’s Rhodes University is also named after Rhodes. He set up the provisions of the Rhodes Scholarship, which is funded by his estate.” ~ Wikipedia
High atop the hill known as World’s View or Malindidzimu, the ‘hill of the spirits’, the views are indeed spectacular and well worth the not too difficult climb. The granite is covered in brightly colored lichen, as well as a colony of Rainbow lizards even more colorful than the lichen.
The grave site itself is cut into solid granite and surrounded by giant boulders.
For all his accomplishments, a simple “Here lie the remains of Cecil John Rhodes” was how he wanted his grave marked.
And what about the view. Was it as special as he had said? Well I have to agree it is quite spectacular in every direction. Most beautiful I have ever seen, no, but memorable indeed.
Just down the hill we spotted another monument, the Shangani Memorial (or monument) which gives insight into the recent history of conflict between the Ndebele people and the colonialists.
I think that the setting, looking up from the back side near the Shangani Monument was the most spectacular and my favorite view. This one I have to say got my attention!
And a final place to simply sit on a bench and take in the view…
We visited the smaller White Rhino cave, which is only one of several significant caves on the property. More an overhang, than a cave, it still afforded us a sampling of the native rock art. It has been suggested that the rhino outline was the inspiration for the re-introduction of the rhino into the park in the 1960’s.
The San people (Bushmen) lived in this area 2,000 year ago and left a rich history of their life in the form of colorful (mostly red) rock paintings. The fact that these paintings have survived so long is in itself fascinating. Partly due to being sheltered by large rock overhangs, and partly because of the ingredients in the ink like “paint” used, many of the drawings are still vibrant and easy to see.
Just FYI, the group that went on a five-mile “run” through the park were rewarded when they came upon a large white rhino and her baby. They got some excellent pictures. I was so happy for them that their efforts paid off.
Our day was far from over, and after another ride in the bus we arrived at Phomolo Lodge.
Owned and operated by Brian’s family, we had been generously invited to spend the afternoon relaxing and enjoying a wonderful home cooked BBQ. While some of the group went on another hike, I spent the time soaking in the view and visiting with Brian’s mother, Rosemary. This is a beautiful property and an even more lovely hostess.
I understand that our group was originally scheduled to stay here, but we out grew the number of accommodations available and we were then moved to stay in neighboring Bulawayo. It is a pity, as I fell in love with the serenity and ambiance offered here.
And one final picture to get you thinking. We saw this along the road in Bulawayo and I could not get my camera on in time to capture it. Thankfully our guide, Brian was kind enough to return, take a picture and email it to me. Thanks Brian!
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful for witnessing what one man considered the most spectacular place he had ever seen, and celebrating the beauty of the area. I am also grateful for the warm hospitality we have been shown by the people of Zimbabwe and by Brian and his mother.