Bambata Cave is a major archaeological site and discovered by Neville Jones in 1917, has fine paintings including elephants, giraffes, warthogs, tsessebe and mongoose.
Excavations in 1918, 1929, 1938 and 1939 revealed a great variety of implements and stone tools from the deep floor suggesting it has a long history of human occupation from the Middle Stone Age; a 1980 excavation of the upper layers revealed sheep bones and teeth and a distinctive form of pottery now called Bambata ware. The name is said to come from an occasion when the Matabele king Mzilikazi was obliged to climb down the hill on all fours, the name Bambata is the Zulu verb “ugubambata” meaning to caress, or stroke with the hands.
This large cave has many paintings typical of Matabeland San hunter-gatherer rock art. Important for its archaeological discoveries and excavations in 1918, 1938, 1929, 1939 and 1980 which have been well documented. The stratified Stone Age remains from Bambata Cave form a database against which other historical sites can be measured and compared. An easy walk from the car park with marvellous views over the Matopos Hills.
How to get here
From Bulawayo centre take Robert Mugabe Way in the city, this turns into Matopos Road which continues south 30 kilometres to the National Park boundary which continues as a single lane tarred road. Immediately after passing REPS School turn right at the fork towards Whovi Wild Area, 4.5 KM pass turnoff to World’s View on left, 4.9 KM pass the old Railway Terminus on the right, 19.3 KM turn right off the tar onto a gravel road. 23.4 KM turn right at the intersection, 23.9 KM turn right, 24.9 KM reach car park. The Cave is reached after a thirty minute easy walk up the granite slopes. Zimbabwe Caves And Rock Paintings