Our intrepid travellers continue their journey from Victoria Falls and Hwange
Camp Amalinda on the edge of the Matobo National Park just outside Bulawayo is one of the most amazing settings in Zimbabwe with the entire lodge built into the rocky outcrops – a design and building feat second-to-none! The lodge is stunning, the service and cuisine outstanding and this combined with the dramatic beauty of the Matobo Hills and time with archaeologist and historian – and raconteur of note – Paul Hubbard made our stay here one to remember forever.
Our time here started with an afternoon walk through the grounds and up onto the rocks high above the camp for sundowners, followed by drinks round the roaring fire and dinner at the impressive long table to end off the day.
The next morning we headed into the Matobo National Park stopping at various historical sites and San (Bushman) art sites along the way. We walked up the hill to Cecil Rhodes’ grave (where Zimbabwe Flat Lizards are plentiful amongst the colourful lichen!) where Paul entertained us with stories of Rhodes and others and the history of the Matobo Hills.
With zero light pollution the night sky was bright and clear so after dinner star-gazing out on the huge rocks was in order – which we enjoyed comfortably ensconced on big cushions and aided along by Amarula liqueurs!
Not only is the Matobo Hills scenically stunning, it is also historically rich – from the early San art sites through to the colonial times; and our cultural history appreciation lesson continued with our onward journey to the impressive Great Zimbabwe Monument.
These archeological remains contain the largest ancient structure in sub-Saharan Africa and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. The site extends over about 800 hectares and can be divided into three main zones – the Hill Complex which is generally considered a royal site, the Valley Ruins which are a series of living spaces, and the Great Enclosure which houses a spectacular circular monument made of cut granite blocks that was built entirely in curves. The massive dry-stone walls (made with no mortar) form a maze of narrow passageways and enclosures – truly an exceptional and imposing construction.
We collected our monument guide – Champion – at the entrance gate, and he certainly lived up to his name, regaling us with facts and insights on these amazing ruins. The walk to the top of the hill turned into a rather arduous climb but everyone who started made it back down without mishap and is worth the effort as it offers a good view of the Great Enclosure below.
We stayed at Norma Jeane’s Lakeview Resort which is set in beautiful gardens and overlooks the peaceful Lake Mutirikwi which had a high level of water for the first time in many years thanks to the exceptional rains the country had this season. The accommodation is built around the original tin-roofed homestead of Murray MacDougal, the man responsible for the building of Lake Mutirikwi back in 1960 and has much of the original colonial charm. We had a very pleasant stay with good food and friendly staff – although our waiter was slightly harassed (his co-worker was off sick) serving a group of 23!
Another curio shopping stop (with our vehicle slowly filling up with baskets & carvings!) near the turnoff to the monument completed our stay; and we were on our way the next day to Gonarezhou National Park in the south east lowveld of the country. Details to follow in the 4th (and final!) part of our Rediscover Zimbabwe Journey.
From : Kuyimba
2 June 2014