Carved into the earth’s crust in northern Zimbabwe, sits the mysterious and hypnotic Chinhoyi Caves, a National Monument. The group of dolomite and limestone caves of Chinhoyi is made up of a trellis of caverns and tunnels.
The most breathtaking section of Chinhoyi Caves is the Wonder Hole, a 150-foot wall cocooning a pool of crystal clear indigo colour water reminiscent of the blue grotto caves. Various underwater tunnels branch off from the pool, making it a popular diving destination. Water-lilies adorn the surface of the waters, while schools of goldfish glide beneath the surface.
Chinhoyi Caves is a worthy sightseeing destination with tremendous cultural significance. There is fascinating folklore woven into the history of the caves. Locals refer to the caves as the “place of the fallen” because those defeated in battle were disposed of in the waters.
Chinhoyi is ideal for a day trip and is located a mere 115 kilometres from the capital city of Harare, which is served by the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
Since Chinhoyi Caves are close to Harare, excursions can be arranged as a day trip. There are also a handful of guest lodges and hotels situated within walking distance.
Walking around the caves can be regarded as a strenuous activity and a moderate level of fitness is recommended, especially for the steep steps in some sections.
One of the main passages into the cave of water is a corridor for wildlife. Animals use it to access the shimmering waters to replenish their thirst. There aren’t any large mammals within the recreational park, but visitors can spot baboons, rock hares and bushpigs.
The sleeping waters of the cave teem with aquatic life, and species such as bottle fish, bream, catfish and goldfish can be seen while diving. The lush vegetation surrounding the caves provides the ideal habitat for prolific birdlife such as the Arnot’s chat, bat hawk, flycatcher, large striped pipit, woodpeckers and redwing.
The Chinhoyi Caves are a year-round destination, but the region does have a peak season. It’s always best to avoid the heavy wet season which occurs from January to March and again in November and December. July is the peak of the dry season, but May to September is considered the general dry season.
There are two main activities introducing visitors to the fauna, flora and natural wonders of the area. Recreational diving lends itself to some incredible sights of life beneath the surface of Zimbabwe. Diving is possible throughout the year, and the water temperature and visibility never seem to change. Divers are rewarded with abundant sightings of goldfish and other freshwater species. Technical divers are encouraged to explore the narrow passages of the caves.
Walks around and in the caves are designed for the more agile visitor. Steep steps leading down to the pool add a challenge to the trail, but the views are well worth the effort. There's plenty of birdlife around the caves and being close to the water's edge gives visitors a front-row seat to the aquatic life.
There are no accommodation options at the caves, which occupy a small area. There are small hotels and guest lodges located within walking distance of the caves but are located on main highways and access roads. Camping facilities are also found close by and come complete with ablution blocks, running water, baths and basic amenities.