Matobo National Park Safari Guide

safarigo   Zimbabwe  

Matobo National Park has huge scenic appeal with balancing granite rocks towering above the plains. Wildlife viewing has become less productive over recent years due to heavy poaching. Lion and elephant are absent. Several well-preserved Bushman rock art sites are open to the public.




Pros & Cons


Dramatic rock landscape
Great birding destination, especially for raptors
Excellent rock art
Good park for self-drive visitors
Accommodation options for different budgets available
Limited variety of safari animals (no elephant and lion)
Small park with limited road network


Wildlife & Animals

Matobo NP has a good variety of safari animals, although some key species – such as lion and elephant – are absent. Wildlife densities are rather low, and the emphasis of the park lies more in the scenery and cultural activities. White rhino is relatively common and this is one of the best parks in Zimbabwe to see them. Black rhino is also present, though less common, and they tend to hide in the bushes. The park is also home to many antelope species, including kudu, sable and klipspringer.

Wildlife Highlights


Matobo is prime leopard country, and these agile predators can sometimes be spotted on or between the rocky outcrops. This terrain is the natural habitat of the rock hyrax, a favourite prey of this big cat. The park is also home to Africa's largest antelope – the eland and the fastest antelope – the tsessebe.


Birds

Matobo’s diverse birdlife is reflected in the checklist of over 320 species, which is quite impressive for a small park. The park is famous for its large concentration of raptors; 35 diurnal and nine nocturnal raptor species have been recorded. Particularly of interest is the world’s largest concentration of Verreaux’s eagles, many of which breed in the park. They can be seen perched on top of rock formations or soaring along the cliffs in search of prey. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

Best Time to Visit

Wildlife watching in Matobo National Park is at its best during the Dry season, from June to October. Animals are more easily spotted since they gather around water sources, and the bush is thinner. Fishing, hiking and visits to some of the San rock-art sites is less season dependent.

April to October – Dry Season


Animals are more easily spotted because there is less vegetation and come to drink at the rivers and waterholes
Skies are always bright and rarely ever cloudy
Mosquitoes are less plentiful in dry weather, so malaria is not much of a risk
The air is dusty and dry
Early morning game drives in open vehicles are very cold


November to April – Wet Season


The scenery is green and beautiful
Newborn animals are abundant
Bird watching is at prime time since the migratory birds have arrived
During low season, rates might be lower
Some roads might become difficult to travel
Wildlife viewing is not as good as during the Dry season
It is hot and humid in the daytime


Weather & Climate

Matobo’s weather is temperate and fair. The warmest period is from September to March. May to August is colder during the day and gets very cold in the morning. The Dry season is made up of clear, sun-filled days from April to October. During the Wet season, which takes place from November to March, rain tends to come in heavy afternoon showers and is often followed by sunshine. Alternately, it can drizzle for days in succession.

The winter and summer seasons are experienced at opposite times than in Europe and North America, and correspond to the Dry and Wet seasons respectively.

Dry Season – April to October


April – There is sporadic rain as the Wet season comes to an end and it starts to cool down. Early morning game drives in open vehicles are cold.
May, June, July & August – Although August begins to get warmer, these are primarily cold and dry months. Daytime temperatures are around 22°C/72°F, but it gets very cold at night and in the early morning, with average temperatures of around 5°C/41°F. Warm winter clothing is essential for early morning game drives.
September & October – With the exception of late October (the hottest month) and the arrival of the rainy season, these two months are dry. It gets warmer during the day, with temperatures reaching over 28°C/82°F.


Wet Season – November to March


November – It rains steadily now, though not every day.
December, January & February – These are the wettest months, and it rains almost every day. Showers are mostly short, and they rarely last all day, with the sun coming out afterward. However, constant drizzle may be present for a few days at a time. Daytime temperatures average 27°C/81°F while night and early morning average 15°C/59°F.
March – The end of the Wet season will slow down the rains. Temperatures average between 27°C/81°F and 14°C/57°F during the daytime and nighttime respectively.


Getting There

The very accessible Matobo National Park is located 50km/31mi south of Bulawayo. The access road and most roads in the park don’t need a 4WD.
Your visit to Matobo NP will normally come as part of a package and not in the form of a lone visit. Your main point of entry into 
Zimbabwe is Victoria Falls Airport (VFA), located near the town Victoria Falls. It is possible to drive from Victoria Falls. The distance is 540km/335mi, and the drive takes about six and a half hours.
Alternatively, you can fly to Harare International Airport (HRE) and fly or drive from there. Your safari package will, in most cases, include your pick-up at the airport or hotel by your local tour operator, along with further travel arrangements.