How would you like to explore an underground world that will lead you to a beautiful oasis? Chinhoyi Caves is a testament to such a surreal sight and one of those natural wonders that will take your breath away. Located in Mashonaland West, Zimbabwe , Chinhoyi caves is 120 km away from Harare making it a one and half hour trip. One can plan a day trip or make a pit stop at the Caves while traveling to Kariba.
Discovery of the Chinhoyi Caves
The Chinhoyi Caves have a mysterious history. They are believed to have been discovered by Frederick Selous in 1887. However, many locals already knew of the caves and they held them as a sacred and spiritual place with a lot of history and mystery. Traditionally, the caves are called “Chirorodziva” meaning the pool of the fallen. A story of an invasion of the Shona tribe by the Nguni tribe. It is believed that the remains of the Shona people that were killed during the invasion are still in the pool. Archaeologists also found some remains in the caves which suggest that there were people that lived in the caves.
The first time we visited the Chinhoyi Caves was during a school trip and our guide at the time told us that, if you threw a stone in the pool, the ancestors would throw the stone back at you with a curse. As innocent twelve year olds, we made sure not to do any of that as we wanted good fortune from the ancestors. A decade later, a South African traveler approached us on social media as he had just arrived in Zimbabwe and wanted to visit the Chinhoyi Caves. We decided to take a spontaneous trip to the caves which turned out to be one the best day trips that we had taken in a while. The day began with a cloudy weather and signs of rain. While it looked like there were high chances of rain, we still took the trip as we were exploring the caves after all. In fact, the cloudy weather made the cave exploration even more spectacular.
Once we arrived at Chinhoyi caves, we quickly grabbed our camera gear and went to the reception to pay for our entrance into the caves. The Chinhoyi caves has two main caves, the sleeping pool and the dark cave. Tourists have an option of doing the tour with a guide or without one as it is easy to navigate. However, if one wants to learn more about the history of the Chinhoyi caves, it is best to have a guide to get the full experience.
The Sleeping Pool
While some caves are dark and mysterious, there are some caves that hide and reveal a magical underground oasis and this is what we saw at Chinhoyi caves. The sleeping pool is the main attraction at Chinhoyi caves because of its crystal deep blue and stagnant water. The pool is estimated to be 172 meters deep and currently, no one has reached the bottom of the pool.This cave also has a very high ceiling, with a hole that leads up to the sky, leading to some people calling it the wonder hole.
As we started descending to the sleeping pool, we could see the intricate and delicate rock formations made of limestone that one can describes as a beautiful architectural work of nature. We couldn’t help but marvel at how beautiful the scene was and we remember being struck with awe as we proceeded through this hidden but beautiful underground paradise.
As we moved closer to the pool, we observed that there were quartz and yellow sulfur deposits which made the water sparkle. To our amazement, there were different water species in the pool. Since taking a dip in the pool is prohibited, our friend took out his Gopro and captured the pool underwater and this gave us a glimpse of the world beneath. While swimming is not allowed, there is an opportunity to scuba dive provided you have a diving license. The divers argue that the Chinhoyi Caves is one of the best diving spots in the world as one can go as deep as 80 meters with a clear view of the rock formations. This was enough motivation for us to get our diving licenses in the future.
The Dark Cave
After the exploring the Sleeping Pool, we headed to the Dark Cave. As we entered the cave we were completely submerged in darkness, we could not help but think of our first time at the caves and the stories behind them.The retelling of the caves’ history and discovery weaved in perfectly with the Dark Caves. We kept on exploring the cave and we finally reached the areas where the cave was light streamed by electrical lights bringing to life the beautiful stalagmite and stalactite formations of the dark cave. Once we reached to the edge of the cave and we were welcomed by a spectacular view of the Sleeping pool from above. The water was so crystal clear. While the water looked like it mirrored the rock formations, we were told that they continued deep into the water. We could not believe how clear the water was. A few hours later, we headed back to the city with memories for a lifetime.
The Chinhoyi Caves truly hold as one of our best cave experience to date. The amazing stalagmite formations and the sleeping pool make them a must visit in Zimbabwe. The caves also have an amazing picnic site, so it is a great place to spend the day with family and friends. If you would like to stay overnight , there are great camping sites and a close by motel.