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Matobo Hills, Nswatugi Cave and a Village Visit.

We left the Rhinos and headed to a camp area for a quick lunch.

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We chased this rainbow lizard for a while....

And got some nice views as well...

Matobo (or Motopos as it use to be called) National Park

The hills, known locally as kopjes, fall into two main categories. The balancing 'castle kopjes' are formed by the rock splitting along natural lines of weakness, or joints. In the Matobo these joints run noticeably from North to South and East to West. So the balancing piles of 'building blocks' that look as though they have been carefully constructed from the ground up are, in fact, constantly forming themselves from the top down. And because the boulders on the summit are more exposed to nature's weathering effects they tend to be more rounded than the angular blocks at the base of the hills.


We passed the MOTH (Memorable Oder of the Tin Hats) Founded by Charles Evedon this memorial pass recognition to the fallen from World War 1

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We also passed Gordon Park...where all scouts as we know started...yup that's right kids it started in Zimbabwe!
It was in the Matabeleland region in Zimbabwe that, during the Second Matabele War, Robert Baden-Powell, who later became the founder of Boy Scouting Association, and Frederick Russell Burnham, the American born Chief of Scouts for the British Army, first met and began their lifelong friendship. During many scouting expeditions, Frederick showed Baden-Powell woodworking and they shared stories of survival - which may have later laid the groundwork for early Boy Scout principals. Baden-Powell and Burnham discussed the concept of a broad training program in woodcraft for young men, rich in exploration, tracking, fieldwork, and self-reliance.

Then it was a short hike up into the mountains....

With wonderful views:

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Finally we reach Nswatugi Cave.

These hills have one of the greatest concentrations of rock art in the region. The hunter-gatherer peoples who once found security and sustenance in these hills have left countless paintings across the Matobo.


Evidence for the early history of the area comes from archaeological excavations and from analysis of the rock paintings. These indicate a long and perhaps continuous use of the caves from the Stone Age right through to the early historical period first by hunters and gatherer societies and then by Iron Age settlers practicing agriculture.


The art is not simplistic illustrations of their lives. There is a selection of what they chose to paint and not to paint. These are symbols and illustrations of their deepest religious feelings and understanding of the reality of life around them. They would relate to the viewer the complexity of social relations (age, gender and living in community) as well as the complex realm of spirits. This only worked for those brought up in their society, knowing the symbolism. We outsiders stand here not fully understanding this ancient and now largely forgotten symbolic language.


The finely wrought art is a depiction of the complex religion of the Late Stone Age hunter-gatherers, and although beautiful, has meanings that go beyond the aesthetic. The images are likely to signify various aspects of human emotions, relationships and interactions with each other and the world around them.



The realistic giraffe paintings are some of the best such depictions in the hills although they were not well suited to the rocky terrain.


As with the kudu, they were nevertheless well adapted to the open Acacia woodland just outside the Matobo. These animals are often depicted large in central and prominent positions in the bigger living sites and in many instances, the artist would have required some sort of ladder to paint them.


Exactly what the minerals were mixed with is not known for certain, but is likely to have been gums from acacia trees, latex from euphorbias, blood, urine, animal fat or marrow, egg white or yolk or a mixture of any of these substances.


Here you can see an example of shadow paintings of humans that only seem to reveal themselves in when the sun is blocked.

The dating of the paintings is still debated, with some experts suggesting an age of up to 20,000 years.


The dating of the paintings is still debated, with some experts suggesting an age of up to 20,000 years. However, it is likely that the majority of the paintings that have survived to the present day are less than 2,000 years old. If this is something that you would like to learn more here is a great link http://www.rockartscandinavia.com/images/articles/a12walker.pdf
I am hoping to eventually link some video of Ian our guide speaking to us in the cave because I could have spent hours listening to him explain all kinds of interesting and amazing things about the caves and the people....

After the paintings we had to take a vote on either seeing Cecil Rhode's Grave or visiting a local village. The village people won (lol) and we headed off.

First we needed to meet the chief

What a character this guy was! He told us of how he was attacked by a leopard when he was younger and showed us his scars to prove it!

Then we met some of the other people of the village while they showed us some of their ways of life

Some of them sang and danced and did a bit of a performance for us.

Then we were invited to join in the fun...



Honestly I would have to say that it was not the most authentic experience ever but the people were still very nice. The truth is, you are not going to get any kind of 'authentic' experience when you are on a tour. For that you really need to volunteer and live with and like the people themselves. This made me even more appreciative of my time spent in Ghana years earlier.

Ok so one more safari park a quick sad stop at the painted dogs sanctuary and then off to Victoria Falls....

Posted by Kelly Rose 15:21 Archived in Zimbabwe

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As always you have presented us with a most delightful insight of your African experiences. How truly grand not only to visit and admire but to also join in with the native lifestyles. Bravo. As for the paintings you might want to look into the writings of Jean M. Auel - Clan of the Cave Bear series. Much like the works you have seen here are depicted from the same age and history of cave paintings. Enjoy - as we have so much enjoyed your renditions of wanderings. Many thanks, we love you dearly.

by Mom and Dad McLaughlin

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