By Kudakwashe Banda and Elijah Dhanda
With summer and the beautiful weather in full swing, we decided to make the most of it and take a trip to Chinhoyi Caves. Zimbabwe is a place with so many beautiful sites, and this is definitely one of them. The caves are often overlooked because often times, one feels they need to travel out far to truly get a recreational experience. However, there are several places nearby that are worth visiting and catching a breath of fresh air. The caves are approximately 106.9 km from Harare; it is approximately a 1 hr 30 min drive. It is also quite easy to get public transport from Westgate Shopping Centre.
A brief history of the caves themselves: All early writings on the caves first date to 1888, however the caves were in existence well before this. The main pool at the caves is referred to locally as Chirorodziva, from an incident that took place in 1830 where the local tribe inhabiting the area then were attacked and their remains thrown into that pool. However the pool is a stunning colour blue, which hides that side of its history!
We set out at about 12h30 and the drive was lovely as the roads going to are still in quite good condition and the drive is scenic. If one has the time it is worth your while to stop at the various lay-bys along the route and enjoy the scenery. Once in Chinhoyi town, make a stop at the local Pick and Pay supermarket to stock up on refreshments, meat and other goodies to enjoy at the caves later. We arrived at 2 pm and the place was quite busy with lots of sight seers and revellers in attendance. The caves were designated as a recreational park in 1975 and are currently managed by Zimparks. As such, there is a beautiful recreational area where you can have picnics as well as braaing areas. The place is well maintained and the facilities are in good working order. However, be prepared for some noise! Most visitors it seems after seeing the caves settle down to have quite a good party with loud music being played from various cars.
There is an entrance fee of RTG270 to enter to see the cave themselves. An additional fee is charged to be able to make use of the braai facilities and recreational area.
The first thing that strikes you as you start descending into the caves is how cool and fresh the air down there is. It is such a marked difference particularly when you are coming from this heat of October! Carry a bottle of water because the hike back up from the caves is quite taxing (it exposed how unfit I am)! There are some people who we observed doing the cave sightseeing with their alcohol. I wouldn’t advice this because of the dehydration. And you need all your faculties in order as you manoeuvre your way around the caves! It is also advisable to wear closed shoes with a good grip underneath so you are able to comfortably move around. There are very few words that can describe the stunning blue colour of the sleeping pool. One needs to see it in person to fully appreciate how truly beautiful it is. It takes your breath away just on sight. And no matter which angle you view it from it maintains that stunning blue. The water level at the pool is said to be 650 feet above sea level.
From the sleeping pool we went on to the View Point Wonder Hole and the Dark Cave. The Dark Cave is just as its name describes, it is a series of intricate dark caves that were used as hideouts as well as sleeping areas. With modern times, it has been electrified and is therefore quite easy to view otherwise its design and how it is located make it impossible to see within without any lighting. The design and how it is partitioned make it quite fascinating viewing.
Viewing all the caves and the Sleeping Pool and the View Point takes approximately an hour in order to take in all the sites beautifully and get a good appreciation of all the areas.
After we had done the tour of the caves we then rounded off the day with a braai and some much needed downtime and catch-up time. As I mentioned earlier do be prepared for the noise that comes with being in the recreational area as people will be playing their music from the various cars and revellers. However the braai is a wonderful way to round off what is indeed a beautiful trip.
So one not need travel far nor spend too much money to enjoy a breath of fresh air out of town. Gather a small group of your friends and make a trip to this gem that is so close to town, yet feels other worldly.