Robert Mukondiwa Senior Correspondent
There is an eerie beauty that surrounds the magic of Chinhoyi caves; itself a barely heralded gem that is one of the priceless adornments for Zimbabwe’s crown of tourist attractions.
The Chinhoyi Caves, preserved for the land by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, is probably one of the rare places on earth where a tourist wonder gets one’s pulse racing because of a scary cocktail of both frightful, fearful flushes on one hand and positive excitement on the other.
“It is possibly Zimbabwe’s best kept secret and it is some place we want to encourage local visitors to travel to and experience.
“Better still, they can do so at our parks and wildlife sanctuaries on a kind budget to the pocket,” notes public relations boss for the authority, Tinashe Farawo.
And he is right.
Entry fees for locals are very kind and the sanctuary surrounding it is ideal for budget camping and family picnics and braais, all for a song.
With the myriad openings boring deep into the limestone and dolomite belly of Zimbabwe, even nature seems to conspire to hide the unique tourist spot.
A conspiracy of hiding a treasure from the eyes of the world.
Apart from the labyrinths so unique that even the inimitable fertility of J.K Rowling’s mind could not conjure up such visions, the epic beauty at the centre of it all, literally, is the Chirorodziva or Sleeping Pool.
The beauty of Chirorodziva or Sleeping Pool is probably the colour the water assumes, dancing between ultramarine and cobalt blue, which makes the end product complete with the eerie stalactites, makes it look like a post-impressionist piece from the hands of Vincent Van Gogh.
Like fangs of some prehistoric python, the stalactites are like upside down piers hanging from the roofs of the numerous caves that run like a stream beneath the earth forming Chinhoyi.
And none knows the beauty of the pool, the colour, or the never ending mystique of Chirorodziva than diver and diving instructor Paul Sparkes, popularly known as Sharky.
“I have dived into this pool (Chirorodziva) 1 500 times,” he says in a revelation that almost stops the heart.
Yet close to 2 000 dives into the beautiful belly of Chirorodziva, “Sharky” can never get enough of it. Nor does he claim to understand the mystery behind the aura that captivates one the millionth time they visit, which is equally heart stopping as the first time one lays eyes on the pond and labyrinth of Chinhoyi.
Taking one of his students on one of their “graduation” dives before they earn their diving certificate, Sharky is breathing evidence that the mysticism behind Chirorodziva is one that will never be disentangled.
Not in our lifetime, nor a million lifetimes beyond.
And the fact that he keeps heeding the calls of the ancestors from of old to go back to the belly that is Chinhoyi Caves is evidence that the place will never lose its celebrated magnetic pull and lustre and is in fact a timeless artefact in the cabinet of the gods.
“It is a mysterious place and profoundly beautiful,” says Sharky like a 10-year-old making his first encounter with Chirorodziva, eyes sparkling like his surname!
Farawo concurs; “We want Zimbabweans to experience these gems. We as Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority are merely custodians and Zimbabweans as the owners should take time to visit what we are safeguarding for them,” he implores.
And for adventurous Zimbabweans, the invitation is now open!