*Tourist Resort

Chinhoyi Caves
  • Tourist Attraction
Sleeping Pool
The sleeping pool at Chinhoyi caves

Chinhoyi Caves is a tourist resort/attraction located in Chinhoyi ,Mashonaland West Province of Zimbabwe. The place hosts local, regional and international tourists who visit the country to have a realistic grasp of the country's diverse and heartening natural environemnt.

Contents

Main Attractions

Most people visit the place to view the ancient "dark" caves and the "Sleeping Pool" known as Chirorodziva in the local Shona language.

Sleeping Pool

Also known as the silent pool, it's known for its clear blue water. The pools are in what is called the The Wonder Hole and are the main feature of the Caves The Caves consist of a system of tunnels and caverns. This system is a dying one (in geological time spans), in that they are slowly collapsing. These collapses can be noticed by the sink holes and depressions within the surrounding area.

The walls or sides of the Wonder Hole drop vertically down for 150 feet to the Sleeping Pool. Exploration by the Zimbabwe Sub-Aqua Spelaelogical Research Group has revealed that the depth of the water in the Sleeping Pool varies between 80 metres and 91 metres. This fluctuation in depths is attributable to the amount of rainfall received in a particular season. Several under water passages have been found leading from the Sleeping Pool, but all those so far explored lead back into the Pool.

Some visitors, mainly foreigners, dive into the pool to view and explore it. Local Shona people however mostly believe in superstitions and seldom venture near the water.

Background

Chinhoyi Caves Clear Blue Water
It was believed that prior to that the Caves were being used as a stronghold by an outlaw called Nyamakwere who murdered many victims by throwing them into the Silent Pool. The notorious Nyamakwere was eventually defeated and killed by a Headman called Chinhoyi who became a Mashona Chief, hence the name Chinhoyi given to the nearby town. Chief Chinhoyi and his followers used the Caves as a refuge from raiding tribes such as the Matebele. Until a few years ago the remains of Chief Chinhoyi's grain bins could be seen in some of the underground passages.

The traditional name for the Caves is "Chirorodziva" which means the "Pool of the Fallen". The name was derived from an incident which took place in the 1830s when the Angoni Tribe, who were moving northwards surprised people living near the Caves and flung them into the pool.

Development of the caves area as a tourist attraction centre began in earnest from 1917. Construction work was carried out to make the caves accessible and safe to tourists. The colonial government had steps cut leading into the Silent Pool and Dark Cave, erecting fences in several parts to serve as guardrails. As was practice with the colonial government that arrested black people arbitrarily to get a source of free labour, 33 convicts were employed to cut steps leading to the Dark Cave and Sleeping Pool. [1]

The area close to the caves was first declared a National Monument and in 1957 it was declared a National Park with its existing boundaries. It was then redesignated as a Recreational Park in 1975.




References

  1. [Zimbabwe’s Chinhoyi Caves: 1845-1945], Vimbai C. Kwashirai, page 93.