The Magnificent Mtoa Ruins

Tales from the Bush

Hwange National Park is now a haven for some of Africa’s most diverse wildlife, but hundreds of years ago the animals shared the land with ancient tribes and early civilizations, and the remains of the magnificent Mtoa ruins can still be seen to this day. Elephant’s Eye, Hwange’s new Mtoa gate is located near a set of ancient ruins that are a reminder of this previous era. In fact, the magnificent Mtoa ruins are the new gate’s namesake.

Located on an elevated plateau with an amazing view over the plains below, the ruins are believed to have been important for rainmaking rituals as well as having a special spiritual significance to the Nambya people. Guests at our lodge now have the opportunity to explore and learn more about this archaeological landmark from our expert guides, it’s a new highlight to be added to an already thrilling African experience in the heart of the Zimbabwean bush.

The ruins date from 1450-1700 AD a time in history referred to as pre-colonial Zimbabwe when the country was inhabited by San and Bantu people. The Mtoa ruins are made up of two enclosures surrounded by the rocky remains of circular huts on raised platforms. While not necessarily imposing, at only about a metre tall, they are rather fascinating and enchanting. Keep an eye out for a line of four monoliths found on the western side of the central enclosure, speculated to symbolize power and virility. Beneath these monoliths there is an unusual line of white quartz blocks embedded in the wall, the white quartz is regarded by hunter-gatherers as having a connection to rain and fertility. Above this white line, are chevron shapes above that are believed have symbolic significance, some say representing a snake – another symbol of power. The position on raised ground is also a characteristic of places that were used spiritually for rainmaking during that time, the natural pools of water in the area give further evidence to support this.

One can imagine the high vantage point was a perfect location for a ruler from a bygone era to survey his kingdom. Today it’s an excellent spot for game-viewing and even a delightful picnic in the bush. Lose yourself in time amongst the dramatic granite boulders and peaceful solitude and remember that there was a time when this kind of wide open spaces stretched over much larger areas.

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