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Under new management

Under new management

Rugged Matopos landscape
Rugged Matopos landscape
Christopher Scott

The palette is pink, blue and smoky amethyst as we travel through the Matobo Hills. Nature has buffeted a natural canvas from the landscape of granite. Artists beware; you will be bewitched and may never leave.

The road winds past whale-back domes, between kopjes crenulated like medieval castles and perilously balancing rocks. The trick is to pick out the shapes; here an elephant, there an armchair and is that a tortoise? Suddenly, one of the shapes moves - a klipspringer, soaking up the winter sun. She skitters up the sheer rock face like a ballerina en pointe - poetry on tippy toes and just one of the 88 mammal species recorded in the park.

We arrive at Matobo Hills Lodge, a series of large well-appointed thatched granite cottages. The bar/lounge overlooks a rock swimming pool. The winter sun makes it almost inviting. The welcome is especially inviting. Josh Elliott, the owner and manager of the Lodge, explains how the Lodge has been refreshed and renovated under new ownership and is to undergo an extensive refurbishment in the coming months.

“It was an easy decision to take the lodge on,” he said, glancing at the spectacular scenery that surrounds the lodge. “Where else in the world can you watch the sun set behind Mount Efifi with a pair of black eagles soaring?” I had to agree.

Our evening meal featured smoked salmon and tender beef. Breakfast was a superb omelette cooked by veteran chef Matthias. At the lodge for over twenty years, he tells me he approves of the changes. “People are visiting the lodge again. We are busy. I like that,” he said, adding more mushrooms to my plate. “Please tell everyone the old team is back.”

We set out to explore painted caves and the splendour of this extraordinary rockscape. The light teases, casting shadows, drawing shapes. And then we saw three white rhinos munching contentedly. They barely twitched at our presence. The sighting was the highlight of our stay.

Editorial note: The rhinos of the Matobo Hills are protected and monitored within an Intensive Protection Zone, a security measure to protect them against poachers.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 13, June 2013)

Matobo Hills Lodge