Heading north towards the Zambezi, Chinoyi is 71 kilometres from Harare. The Battle of Chinhoyi between the Black Nationalist ZANLA, and Rhodesian Security Forces in 1966, effectively launched the Second Chimurenga (war of liberation). A decade later, half a million rural people were displaced, living in shacks on the urban outskirts or in refugee camps outside the border. 70% of white farms on the eastern border with Mocambique, had been abandoned, schools, hospitals and clinics had closed in their scores and more than ten thousand people had lost their lives. These days the town is better known for the Chinhoyi Caves National Park. Just outside town is a limestone cavern formed when the ground collapsed into a sinkhole. The deep blue pool beneath is known as the ‘Sleeping Pool’ and to the Shona as the ‘Pool of the Fallen’. Many bones lie fathoms deep in these waters. It is thought to be part of a bigger underground waterway but has never been fully explore.
Speaking to locals around the area, you find that many believe the walls of the caves hold a powerful spiritual prescence and in the past, when evil was spoken in the caves, the person would simply disappear or wither and die soon after. Frederick Courtney Selous, famous colonial hunter, found the area occupied by subjects of Chief Chinhoyi in 1887 which accounts for the area’s name change.
Best Diving Destinations in Zimbabwe
As the caves are protected by National Parks, you are only allowed to dive there if you are with a Zimbabwean registered dive club/centre.
To enter the caves you have to go down the steps to what is known as the Sleeping Pool of Sinoia (Chinhoyi).
With a cave penetration qualification, these caves are a haven for adventurous divers….(once you get past the cave full of bat ‘guano’ that is). Although the tunnels have been extensively dived and safety ropes have been fixed inside them, the problem is that once inside, you’ll never know which rope leads you out again. You come to one cave with 4 tunnels branching off, the next has 3 offshoots etc. The only way of penetrating this cave system is to rely on your own reel or you’ll never be seen again. The source of Chinhoyi is unconfirmed as yet but the mineral content is apparently similar to Lake Victoria. The water right down to 110 metres remains a constant 22 degrees year round.
When to Visit Zimbabwe
The caves can be dived year round.