Chinhoyi Cave

Chirorodziva - Pool of the Fall - Chinhoyi Sleeping Pool - Sinoia - Sinoia Caves

Useful Information

Location: Chinhoyi, Makonde District, Mashonaland West Province.
100 km northwest of Harare, near Chinhoyi. On the Highway A-1, between Harare and Chirundu.
(-17.355940, 30.129295)
Open: All year daily 9-17.
Fee: Daily Conservation Fees:
Day Visitors: Adults USD 3, SADC USD 8 International USD 10.
Accommodated: Adults USD 1, SADC USD 2, International USD 3.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. Lower Proterozoic dolomite.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=887 m, D=-190 m.
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: T. Truluck (1992): SASA (Cape) Expedition to Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, AUgust 1992, Reprot 38p, Cape Town, South African Speleological Association.
Vimbai C. Kwashirai (2010): Zimbabwe’s Chinhoyi Caves: 1845-1945, Global Environment, Volume 3, Number 5, 2010, pp. 71-100(30), White Horse Press. DOI pdf
Address: Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), Tel: +263-242-706077–8, WhatsApp: +263-776-134-164, VOIP: +263-867-7707627. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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16th century used by the local Shona tribes for storing grain and for refuge from invading tribes.
1830s the Nguni people used the cave as a place of execution.
1888 first description by Frederick Courtney Selous.
1890s Chief Chinhoyi, from whom the area takes its name, used the caves as a refuge from raids by the Ndebele.
1920 first surveyed.
1955 proclaimed a National Park.
1969 divers from the South African Normalair Underwater Club reached -103 m.
1975 redesignated a Recreational Park under the Parks and Wild Life Act.
1992 US Navy divers reached a depth of -135 m.
1994 resurveyed by a SASA expedition.
03-MAY-2013 designated Chinhoyi Caves Recreational Park.


Chinhoyi Cave is the only show cave in Zimbabwe. Originally called Chirorodziva (Pool of the Fall), it is now named Sleeping Pool. Probably a concession to the foreign tourists, as the original name is rather difficult to pronounce for foreign tongues. There are different theories about the origin of the official name. Some say it comes from an incident in 1830, when members of the Angonni tribe attacked the local people. They threw their victims into the cave to dispose of them, hence the name Pool of the Fall. Less martialistic is the theory that the name commemorated the fall of rock which created the sinkhole.

Chinhoyi Cave is the second longest cave and the fourth deepest in Zimbabwe. And it in not the only memorable cave in this area. The Chinhoyi dolomite karst is the largest karst area in Zimbabwe.

The cave has several fossil passages with noticeable speleothems. Several larger daylight windows are unique for this cave. But the extraordinary sight is an underground lake called Sleeping Pool, which is said to be 172 m deep. US Navy divers reached a depth of 135 m in the lake.

Despite its statistic features, the lake is also very nice. It is located below one of the daylight windows, under a steep cliff. This cliff was used in the 1830s for execution. The delinquents were simply thrown down the cliff.

Today the lake looks pretty innocent. The daylight from above and the high amount of dissolved limestone gives the crystal-clear water a translucent aquamarine colour. The goldfish in the lake are a result of human intervention, they were freed here in order to keep mosquitoes at bay. Today several diving companies offer dives into the lake.

The caves are also a religious site, a site for rainmaking in the African Traditional Religion. The surrounding forest is considered sacred, it is not allowed to fell trees.

Nearby the cave are some prehistoric cave paintings to be found at Lake Chivero National Park.