Chinhoyi Caves

Situated in northern Zimbabwe,  76 miles (122 kms) North West of Harare

Chinoyi Caves (formerly known as Sinoia Caves) have long been a popular stop off point for travellers on their way to Kariba, campers and day visitors from Harare enjoying a picnic.

The limestone caves were first discovered by Frederick Courtney Selous in 1887 which he later described in his writings in 1888. The history of the caves goes back long before this period and excavations in and near the caves have revealed the presence of people going back to very early times.

Carbon dated pottery and human remains excavated from the area are estimated to date back to AD 650. These caves are the most extensive cave system in Zimbabwe that the public can access.

The caves were designated a National Park in 1955 and re-designated as a Recreational Park in 1975 and as such are managed by ZIMPARKS (Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority).

The caves are located in Makonde District, Mashonaland West, in central, northern Zimbabwe. They lie approximately 9 kilometres (5.6 mi), by road, northwest of Chinhoyi, the nearest large town, and the location of the district and provincial headquarters.

There is a campsite run by the National Parks Authority and Caves Motel, a quiet, private establishment is located on site. The picnic and campsites are serviced by three ablution blocks with hot and cold water, baths, toilets and showers.  

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At A Glance

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Flora and Fauna

The Park’s flora is made up largely of indigenous species and a few exotics. In the indigenous group, there are: Mukwa (pterocarpus angolencis), Cape Fig (ficus capensis), Combretum species, Terminalia species, Msasa (brachystegia), Violet tree (securidaca longipediculata), Yellow wood (monotas glaber) and Pink Jacaranda (stereospermum)

There is a wide variety of bird species in the area especially during the dry months of winter. The Park’s bird diversity includes the Arnot’s Chat, Angola Rock Thrush, Mocking Chat, Large Striped Pipit, Woodpecker species, Black Tits, Redwing Starling, Batis, Flycatcher, Penduline Tit, Glossy Starling, Bat Hawk, Tree Creeper, Familiar Chat, Paradise Flycatcher and other species.

There are virtually no large animals in the Park, however, monkeys, baboons, bushpigs and rock hares can occasionally be sighted



Harare – Chinhoyi 117 kms (73.1 miles)

Harare – Chinhoyi Caves 123.2 kms (77 miles)

Chinhoyi – Chinhoyi Caves 8.3 kms (5.2 miles)

Harare – Kariba 359 kms (224.4 miles)

Chinhoyi – Kariba 244 kms (152.5 miles)

Harare – Mana Pools National Park 344 kms (215 miles)

Chinhoyi – Mana Pools National Park 229 kms (143 miles)

Harare – Mana Pools National Park 344 kms (215 miles)

Harare – Chirundu Border Post 356 kms (222.5 miles)

Harare – Makuti 290 kms (181.3 miles)

Harare – Lake Chivero 37 kms (23.2 miles)

Harare – Lion and Cheetah Park  25 kms (15.6 miles)

Harare – Rusape 174 kms (109 miles)


Sign Post

Local Legend

Legend has it that a notorious local outlaw Nyamakwere murdered a number of people by throwing them into the Silent Pool.

Nyamakwere was eventually defeated and killed by a Headman named Chinhoyi who subsequently became a Mashona Chief and after whom the nearby town of Chinoyi is named.

Chief Chinhoyi and his followers used the Caves as a refuge from Ndebele raiders coming up from the south. 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 Chinhoyi 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.

Caves Structure and Diving

The caves consist of a system of tunnels and caverns and are composed of limestone and dolomite.

The descent to the main cave with its pool of cobalt blue water is very impressive. The Chinhoyi cave system is regarded as 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 Wonder Hole, which is the main feature of the Caves, is in fact a “swallow hole” or a large cavern with a collapsed roof.


The walls or sides of the Wonder Hole drop vertically down for 150 feet to the Sleeping Pool. The pool is bright blue in colour and crystal clear which reflects great depth and non-flowing water.


Divers have discovered a submarine passage leading from the Bat Cave, a sub-chamber of the Dark Caveto, another room known as the Blind Cave. Diving is possible in the caves all year round with temperatures never beyond the 22°C to 24 °C (72°F to 75 °F) range with no temperature drop (thermocline) in deeper water.


Visibility is high, and 50 metres (160 ft) and above is not unusual. This site is often visited by diving expedition teams of technical divers that perform ultra deep diving. It is not uncommon for dives in excess of 100 metres (330 ft) to be made here by experienced technical divers.


Weather - Chinhoyi Area

Chinhoyi is located in the Mashonaland West Province. 

The climate is warm and temperate in Chinhoyi. The summers are much rainier than the winters in Chinhoyi. According to Köppen and Geiger, this climate is classified as Cwa. The average annual temperature in Chinhoyi is 19.8 °C. The rainfall here averages 816 mm

Weather patterns:

  • Hot season / summer is in March, April, September, October, November and December.
  • Most rainfall (rainy season) is seen in January, February, March, November and December.
  • Chinhoyi has dry periods in May, June, July, August and September.
  • On average, the warmest month is October.
  • On average, the coolest month is July.
  • January is the wettest month. This month should be avoided if you don’t like too much rain.
  • July is the driest month.
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