TIPTOES: Nswatugi Cave

According to local mythology Mwari/Mwali (God) leapt over the top of Nswatugi Hill from his home at Njelele Mountain, before landing on Khalanyoni Hill – the name Nswatugi translates to “the place of jumping”. The cave’s entrance is six metres wide, with the cavern extending fourteen metres into the hill. Nswatugi Cave is famed for its colourful rock art, featuring elephant, giraffe, kudu, zebra and even humans in sleeping and hunting positions. The paintings were created by the hunter-gather ancestors of Botswana’s San people. Various antelope, a sable head and two ovoids can be seen at the front. Excavations revealed the existence of a clay granary, used by the Matabele during the First Chimurega of 1896, as well as artefacts from the Iron, Middle and Late Stone Ages.  A human skeleton was found in the Middle Stone Age levels, and may be the oldest human remains ever found in Zimbabwe.

Directions: After the National Park Reception travel towards Maleme Dam for 1.7 km, then turn left at the junction facing the dam. Cross the wall, go to the road junction and turn right to go north. It is advisable to stop at 1.6 km where a signpost on the left directs one to Nswatugi Cave and take the short path to the cave; green arrows are clearly marked on the granite beside the path.

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