Matopos, Zimbabwe


The group will gather at the airport for the flight to Bulawayo accompanied by some members of the Sivadia team while the other team members travel by road taking the bikes. Please note that passport holders will require visas which can be obtained at the airport in Bulawayo at a cost of US$ 55.00 for a single entry.

The first evening is spent at a lovely venue in the historic town of Bulawayo.

The Ride…

Bulawayo – Camp Dwala

DAY 1 – approximately 50km – 3/4 hours

After breakfast the riders will get ready for their first day of exploring the magical Matopos.

The days riding starts off with a short ride through the town of Bulawayo before setting off down fast single track to an outlying suburb of Byo – Waterford. After Waterford the riders pick up go another single track and head south to a high point with views of the great ill down hill, fairly technical, across a small weir and up to a dirt road that leads to Bonsa Mine. Matobo Hills aswell as the Umsingwani river catchment area. From this point it is single downhill.

After 1km the route veers off onto a fast flowing single track that heads down to the How Mine Dam– this piece can be tricky. From the dam the riders will ride Jeep track and head around to the back of the Dam Wall.

The route then turns back towards the Motobo Hills following single track as the riders work their way across the Umzingwane River and on to the Old Bulawayo Rd.  Before heading towards the three main climbs of the day the riders will wind their way through a former Game Ranch. Once across the Umtshabezi River it is all up hill to the top of the Matobo escarpment. The views and surrounding scenery are surreal on the way up and even better once the climb has been conquered.  From there the route takes the riders to Camp Dwala, the second night stop where lunch, showers and an afternoon of leisure awaits.

Camp Dwala – Maleme Rest Camp

Day two-

Day two starts off by taking the riders into the Matobo Game Park and then onto the Matopos National Park, where sightings of hippo, giraffe and other wildlife are a common occurrence.

There is a portage section up Ndaleka’s Pass and a couple of climbs to tackle, however it is not a tough day in the saddle. The route can be cut short at the 50km mark just outside of the game parks.

En-route the riders will pass the Matopos Dam, the remains of the Rhodes Summer House, where CJ Rhodes rested before his burial in 1902, the fine Victorian Stables of CJ Rhodes which remain as a National Monument, the turn off to “World’s View” or “Malindidzimu” found by CJ Rhodes and his grave site.

Riders will also get to see the Njelele, a very pronounced hill and the most scared traditional religious site in Southern Africa, and home of the Oracle of the Mlimo deity.

The Shashani Dam, the second largest lake in the Matobo hills, Mangwe Pass, Fumugwe – a huge granite Dwala, the Mwewu River, and Ndaleka’s Pass – the route follows the historic passage through the Matopos and up the Tendele river, and requires some portage.

The view of Nyadza Hill will not be missed, as this large hill protects the opening of the gorge into the eastern side, with the Badja Plateau on the western side. Riding up the pass, riders should look out for the confinalis Euphorbai, as this tree is only found in that area of the Matopos.

Riders will cross the Shambenyama river, fairly close to its source before heading to Npuma, another large hill on the boundary of the Game Park and the Khumalo Communal land. The route then bypasses the Mpophoma Dam, which is the largest in the National park, and the Chitamba Dam which is home to a pod of five hippo.

After crossing the Hove river, riders will reach “Mother and Child”, an iconic balancing rock formation that is a must have photo opportunity. Rhino are also prominent in this area. The route then exits the Game park and enters the Rhodes Matopos National Park, with the Key Stone bridge, the Nsvatuke, Madingazulu Dam, balancing rocks, Mt Inungu, Kalanyoni, Maleme Dam, Pomongwe (one of the largest dome caves in the Matopos, yielding the world’s oldest piece of knotted string), being the many sights that riders will be treated with before ending off the day of discovering the Matopos at the Maleme Rest Camp.

Maleme Rest Camp – Camp Dwala

Day 3- approx. 63km 6-8hrs

Day three’s route is a deceptive one, with the second half being tougher than the first. The days riding consists of good single track, open roads and a few lung busting climbs. The lowest point of the ride is just before the Tuli River at 1180m, and the highest point at the top of Mwazi at 1565m. The main climb ascends 500m within 15km’s and is said to be the toughest part of the day.

The climb is tackled in three tough steps, with the first step involving a portage up a rocky path, but is rewarded with a refreshing swim in the Amadzimba Pearls before tackling the next step. The climb up the climb up the Dananombe Dwala, the second big climb of the day, is worth the views, before heading onto the final climb of the day up to the roof of the Matobo Hills, Mwazi. Riders are then rewarded with the first substantial descent down a “dwala” to the valley below.

Burbling streams will be found along these sections of the ride, where one can cool off and enjoy a well-deserved snack break. The route meanders through the valley before reaching Old Gwanda road, with no major river crossings, and heads into the Dwala Conservancy where game can be seen. Riders will cross the high vlei’s of the eastern Matopos, which are home to 23 indigenous orchids. The days ride ends at Camp Dwala where one can cool off and enjoy a relaxing swim in the natural pools of Mvuru stream.

Highlights of Day two’s route include: Crossing the Nzhowezi river, Mt Silozwe, Mtsheleli Dam- one of the most scenic dams in the National Park, Toghwana River, Masiye Camp, CJ Rhodes Ndebele Cultural Village, Tuli River, Amadzimba Pearls, Amazimba Cave, Mangwa, Rushongwe, Bata, Bughwa, Sotcha – the longest single ridge of granite in the Matopos exteneding for over 8km’s, Mwazi, Matoppo Mission, Old Gwanda Road.

 Camp Dwala – Camp Dwala

Day 4 – approx. 70km5-7hrs

The last day of riding is the toughest of the three and crosses the Mtshabezi Gorge not once, but twice and the climb the summit of Tshingengoma to enjoy the spectacular views. There are again lots of historic sites and views en-route.

The start of the day takes one down to the Mtshabezi River, where a few small portages may be necessary. The trail then heads into the Mtshabezi Gorge, which has a depth in excess of 300m and the Mtshshasha Falls, being the highest in the Matopos. The route descends for a short while before climbing out under the canopy of Brachystegia tamrandoides (Mountain Acacia) behind the Intukabeni range. Riders will have to push and carry their bikes for a short while in this section of the route. The route passes Shale School, a steady climb that takes the riders to Tshingengoma, a 350m climb from the gorge with spectacular views. The reward is a steep “dwala” descent that will test the skills, whilst heading to Diana’s Pool and onto Esibomvu. At this point the riders would have traversed the Matobo Hills World Heritage site after crossing the Nsezi river which marks the most eastern side of the Matobo Hills.

But this is not the end, as the end of the days ride is at Camp Dwala. An easy ride to the Mtshabezi valley and across the river once again. Then a few steady climbs and the last big “Dwala” ascent up Gorfinga and finishing off with an easy 5km ride to the end of the days adventures at Camp Dwala.

Highlights of Day 3 are: Mquilembegwe, Gorfinga, Horse Shoe Canyon, Sagonya Rock, Matsenyane River, Mtshabezi River, Mtshabezi Gorge, Silloti, Intukabeni Range, Bembi, Shale School, Pata, Tshingengoma, Tshingengoma 1896 Battle site, Rhodes Indaba site, Diana’s Pools, Orbicular Granite, Nsezi River, Esibomvu, Qama Dam, 1896 Pioneer Cemetery and memorial, Fort Umlugulu, Nsezi River, Mbezingwe B/C, Mbezingwe Hill, Adams Farm, Mquelembegwe, Mvuru stream.

Rides are subject to change but rest assured all rides in the Matopos will blow you away.

View the Matopos Photo Gallery here


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