If you ever visit Zimbabwe and fancy an outdoor experience that covers all bases: Domboshava Caves is the place to go. A popular destination for rock art lovers, families and general nature lovers, the mountainous area beckons.
Domboshava Hills: something for everyone
The site is located just 31km from the capital city Harare, a conveniently 35minute drive. Domboshava, or Domboshawa as you wish, is mostly known for its breath-taking natural terrain, outdoor adventure activities and its famed sunset views. The traditional history of the area also draws visitors along with various recreational areas.
Many people visit the place for different reasons which can range from personal pilgrimages, cultural exchange programs to just gazing at the sunset. One thing which is undisputed though, is the fact that there is something for everyone in Domboshava.
One can have a teaser of the views and experience ahead with an open natural scenery whilst traveling to the Hills. The drive from the city centre is dotted with the enterprising community selling artworks, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as wild fruit by the roadside.
The bustling town is home to the Domboshava Hills which is considered one of the best places to watch the sunset in Zimbabwe during the golden hour. The Domboshava Caves are the most popular feature at the Hills and welcomes multitudes of visitors every year.
Pasichigare Cultural Centre: popular hangout
The peaceful environment is also ideal for family outings with picnic, dog walking and hiking trails up the hills. Besides Domboshawa Caves, other wonderful places to visit include Pasichigare Cultural Centre. The centre is a popular hangout spot with a wide range of activities to choose from.
Pasichigare offers rock art safari, baboon trekking tours and is known to host memorable village bush parties and bonfires in the winter season. It is also a favourite for romantics and their picnic spots have witnessed a number of marriage proposals which have culminated in weddings at the popular centre.
Pasichigare was created with the aim to fuse traditional culture with international appeal. They host conceptualized tours that include a village tour, open theatre and an open museum topped off with a visit to the Chief’s Court. Should the temperatures soar, people can cool off at the Underground River site which also has camping and beach volleyball facilities.
Besides avid hikers and campers, the area is also a haven for people who prefer quiet meditation and some moments of connecting with nature. Fitness groups, boy scouts and triathletes take advantage of the craggy terrain and frequent the area, with a dedicated team of rally bikers being weekend regulars. Hikers can choose a solo trek to the summit by following the direction markings on the trails. There is also an option of a guided tour to the caves and rock paintings which are on the eastern side.
Harare-based blogger and photographer Nicole Kurebwaseka enjoys retreating to the area for inspiration when working on her pieces and appreciates the connection with her culture at the Domboshawa Caves. “The Domboshava caves are what some of our elders called home and there is a lot of educational material at the museum,” she says. “When I see the rock paintings and cultural artefacts at the caves I’m reminded that culture and identity never dies. I often come here with friends to watch the sunset and take the village tour. This beautiful scenery can even bust writers block, if I’m to speak from experience.”
Accommodation at Domboshava Cave Affair
The Cave Affair is located at the foot of the mountains and naturally becomes the first port of call for visitors going in to Domboshava Caves. The private facility houses 4 upmarket units including a restaurant, main and cocktail bar, a butchery as well as accommodation services.
The Cave Affair stands out like an oasis with its well-manicured lawns and squirrels running around in the mazhanje (Uapaca kirkiana) forest. Its evergreen scenery contrasts beautifully with its immediate sandy and rocky environment. It is aptly named The Cave Affair because it encompasses all the needs of the visitors who come to the caves, according to the proprietor Pasi Goredema.
“We started out 12 years ago as a bar and restaurant but have now branched into providing accommodation and camping for our guests. The Village Affair embraces ethnicity and modernity and you can find this in our set up,” said Goredema. The place catches the eye with its rock and thatch style buildings blended with modern facilities.
The Cave Affair boasts an impressive menu with local and international cuisine prepared by the resident chef who also tries new dishes with guest’s suggestions. They also have a well-stocked cocktail bar with a wide range of beverages. At least five or six times a year, they host guests who flock to Domboshawa to catch one of the most exciting natural events under a concept called the turnaround.
Turnaround: catch the sunset seconds after the moonrise
“Turnaround is one of our most popular packages. This is when visitors can watch the sunset just seconds after witnessing the moonrise. We call it the turnaround because one minute you have people facing west and seeing the moonrise and cameras clicking away. In a matter of literally seconds they switch to face the opposite direction and catch the beautiful sunset. This is a stunning phenomenon and widely considered to be the second best spot to watch the sunset in Zimbabwe after the Matopos,” he explained.
The area was traditionally used for a Shona rainmaking ceremony called mukwerera. The actual site of the ceremony is evergreen throughout the year and falls under part of the Cave Affair grounds. They maintain an environmental conservation program at their venue in respect of the tradition. The Cave Affair took advantage of the first phase of the total lockdown to make renovations and is now welcoming back guests as lockdown restrictions ease.
Domboshawa is a perfect place to make lasting memories and everyone who visits is urged to carry a camera in order to immortalize the moments. Long after leaving the area, you will certainly look back on it with fondness no matter your motivation for visiting. To those who are yet to sample the complete outdoor experience, I say waste no time in jumping onto the next ride to Domboshava Hills, the place where adventure meets tranquillity and the introvert and extrovert can both feel at home.