This is the most amazing location we ever slept in and we really did some awesome travels before. We are in awe. Feeling so privileged to sleep in this beautiful place called Big Cave Camp.
Perched high on a rocky outcrop, the Big Cave Camp Lodge is literally built into the rock. The main lodge back walls are all rocks, the little huts are built to blend in with the nature and each having a fantastic view from their balconies.
We fell in love with this place at first sight. We only booked two nights there but wished it to be longer.
There is only one other guest at the lodge, a very interesting Indian guy from London, born in Kenya and now working in Hamburg. An Executive at a bank in Hamburg that just took six months off traveling southern Africa by a personlized 4WD all by himself. Chris and he got on splendidly, both exchanging camera tips, drone experiences and smoking the occasional cigarette together. Maybe a connection that will have a future.
We can’t rave enough of this place so close to heaven. Little Hyrax are hoppling about everywhere. Those are little marmot like animals that look and smell a bit line guinea pigs.
Magnificent views everywhere, attention to every detail and lodge and surroundings to die for. We had a super quiet night in our little stone cabin. Much warmer than in Miombo. After a magnificent sunset the evening before, we had an equally stunning sun rise the next morning.
We just sat in awe on our little balcony and admired the view. Reddish rocks stone boulders on top of each other, in between green trees and yellow grass landscapes. It just looks so pretty.
We had booked Shepperd, a park guide for a walk on foot to track the endangered rhinos for which the park is famous for. He picked us up at 9 am and we drive with the Hillux Safari Car into Matobos national park. There after a little drive we approached the Rhodes Grave site. Rather than going up to the grave site immediately, we decided to go for our rhino tracking first as the ranger told us that they had seen a mother and baby rhino in the area yesterday.
Carefully on foot we walked through very tall grass closely following the ranger on foot through the bush for about 15 minutes. The we stopped in our tracks. A grey huge hump was visible in front of us. Not moving. Just a big grey mass, nearly rock like. We crept slowly closer until the rhino lifted its head and we saw some movement besides it. A little rhino calf was standing right next to his momma and looked at us with shy eyes.
The guide motioned us closer and we kept inching closer to where he stood. He made clicking noises, which the momma seems to recognize and relaxed. Rhinos don’t see very well so they rely on their hearing a lot to identify sounds of comfort or danger. The ranger knew this rhino from her days as a young and those clicking noises seemed to be a sign of mutual recognition. She let us come as close as 5 meters to her and her 4 months old calf.
Chris and Esther were in awe to be so close to this peaceful and magnificent animal. So sad that it has to be protected by rangers around the clock as poachers are always a big risk to rhinos. Ours was a square lipped white rhino, eating savannah grass, others in the park are black rhino who have a pointed lip and feed on bushes.
After having looked at momma and baby rhino for a while we made our way back seeing another rhino back in the tall grass. This one turned around and snorted at us. Even the rangers advised to retreat and said that that bull is not friendly. We back tracked our steps and turned into another direction. After another two minutes’ walk we saw a fourth rhino shape. This time lying down resting. It was a young bull, friend of the momma, being chased away by the larger and older bull we saw earlier. He recognized the clicking sound of the ranger too and let us come close to see him in all his glory.
He got up and just stared at us with friendly curiosity. He looked much more relaxed that the other guy. We never thought to come as close to a wild rhino as we have done in Matobos today. It will be one of the most memorable moments of this trip.
After the rhino walk on foot, we hiked up Cecil Rhodes grave site.
From atop you can see for miles around and enjoy the magnificent views all around. Rhodes was a divisive figure in Zimbabwe’s history. Revered by some as he was extending the British colonial empire adding then called Matabeleland (afterwards Rhodesia) to the empire, and hated by locals as an aggressor violently fighting to subdue the tribes of this land to British rule. He claimed large sections of Matobos as his private land and decreed that he wanted to be buried on top of the hill that was a scared place for the Matabele. To this day Zimbabweans have mixed feelings about Cecil James Rhodes. We hiked up for the view and were rewarded with sweeping vistas of this wonderfully unique landscape.
After a nice picknick lunch on Maleme dam, we made our way to Nswatugi Cave, one of the caves with the best-preserved cave paintings in Southern Africa. 9000+ years old. We hiked up a steep, rocky hill to get there in foot and to be rewarded with the most amazing animal paintings high up in a cave.
Preserved against rain fall and water pouring down, reddish figures were painted onto the cave wall thousands of years ago. Especially the giraffe paintings were exquisite. It was heartwarming to see that so far everyone has respected the sacred place and left it unspoiled.
No graffiti, no name scratching into the walls, not etching of letters into the rock. We sincerely hope that this stays that way. The cave is open to everyone and not guarded or protected in any way.
This concluded our day in Matobos with Shepperd, our good guide, and by 3 PM we were back at the lodge for a quick dip in the icy cold pool atop our rock. The rest of the day and evening we spent in good company while admiring the surroundings dreading to have to leave the next day. To get the most out of this amazing place, Chris and the new acquaintance from Hamburg decided to meet again after moonset at 1:30 am to take pictures of the milky way – unspoiled, since there is almost no light polution at Matobo.