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Chinoyi Caves

The Chinhoyi Caves are one of those places you just have to visit during your trip to Zimbabwe. The Chinhoyi Caves are located 8 km from Chinhoyi and 128 km from Harare, on the way to Lake Kariba. The Caves were named after Chief Chinhoyi of the NeMakonde dynasty, who overthrew a notorious Shona outlaw, Nyamkwere, during pre-colonial times in Zimbabwe.

The caves are a system of dolomite and limestone caves, linked by many passages. You first descend into the main cavern, by means of a pitch black passage. However, once in the main cavern, you can see the sky overhead. The main cave houses the Sleeping Pool, or Chirorodziva (“pool of the fallen”).

This is a cobalt blue pool of water surrounded by lush plants and the sounds of birds. Strangely enough, the pool is always at the same temperature and level, and always this cobalt colour – whether day or night, sunshine or overcast. Apparently, Nguni raiders threw the dead bodies of the followers of Nyamkwere into this pool to “sleep for eternity”, hence the name “sleeping pool”. But, among the Shona people, who were the ones ending up in the pool, the place is known as Chirorodziva or “pool of the fallen”. Legend has it that one cannot throw a stone across the pool, because it will be caught by the sacred spirits keeping watch over the pool. In addition, the person throwing the stone will be cursed by the same spirits.

The Dark Cave, another cave in the Chinhoyi Caves system, is artificially lit. A climb into this cave is rather exhausting, something to keep in mind if you have other activities to look forward to. The Bat Cave is a subchamber of the Dark Cave, and is connected to the Blind Cave by means of an underwater passage. The Chinhoyi Caves are popular among divers, because the crystal-clear water ensures good visibility.