Arts, Culture and Sport
Greetings from Zimbabwe’s Deep Blue Wonder
Today we are at the Chinhoyi Caves, a group of limestone and dolomite caves situated in north central Zimbabwe. The caves are an enigma with a rich history because of their silent blue pool. Most interestingly are the legends surrounding the history of the pool, this together with the deepness and stillness of the water causes the area to have an eerie atmosphere around it.
Today we are at the Chinhoyi Caves, a group of limestone and dolomite caves situated in north central Zimbabwe. The caves are an enigma with a rich history because of their silent blue pool. Most interestingly are the legends surrounding the history of the pool, this together with the deepness ad stillness of the water causes the area to have an eerie atmosphere around it. For local people this is a spiritual place and they believe that anyone who speaks evil within its walls will suffer misfortune and die.
History has documented that in 1887, first white man to see the wonder, Frederick Selous, came across the marvel of the Chonhoyi Caves. However, many local people already knew of the Caves and saw them either as a place to admire but it was also evoked fear.
Jenman African Safaris reports that one legend surrounding the Caves, is the story of Chinhoyi, a Headman who defeated and killed the Nyamakwere outlaws. The outlaws are believed to have used the Caves as their stronghold and murdered many victims by throwing them into the Silent Pool. After defeating the outlaws, Chinhoyi became a Chief who used the Caves to keep his people safe from raids by tribes such as the Matebele. Legend says until recently one could still come across the remains of Chief Chinhoyi’s grain bins in some of the Caves’ underground passageways.
The traditional name for the Chinhoyi Caves is “Chirorodziva”, which means the “Pool of the Fallen”. The name, it’s believed, was inspired by an incident involving the Nguni Tribe in the 1830s. Jenman Safaris reports that while moving north, the tribe surprised a group of Shona tribe heroes, who were living near the Caves. The Nguni raiders flung them to their deaths, inspiring the oral tradition that whispers of the bones of the fallen that are believed to still cover the bottom of the Pool.
According to Zimbabwe Parks, the Caves have a system of tunnels and caverns. This system is a dying one meaning that they are slowly collapsing. These collapses are noticeable by the sink holes and depressions within the surrounding area. The Wonder Hole, which is the main feature is “swallow hole” or a large cavern with a collapsed roof.
The depth of the water in the Sleeping Pool varies between 80 metres and 91 metres. This fluctuation in depths is attributed 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. Near the end of the Dark Cave is a small cavern accessible only to diver known as the Blind Cave.
The Park’s flora is made up largely of indigenous species and a few exotics. The indigenous include Mukwa, Cape Fig, Combretum species, Terminalia species, Msasa (brachystegia), Violet tree Yellow wood and Pink Jacaranda.