- Geologists believe natural hot springs are found where water percolates down into areas of volcanic activity in the earth’s crust and becomes superheated before forcing its way back to the surface.
- Zimbabwe has a number of thermal hot springs, the hottest of which are at Binga, on the shores of Lake Kariba, Lubimbi near the Gwaai River in northern Matabeleland, Hot springs and Rupisi.
- The Rupisi hot springs are much more accessible than those at Binga and are an interesting natural phenomenon. They are situated in an alluvial valley within an igneous terrain and have been measured at 62⁰ C.
From Mutare heading south on the A9 towards Birchenough Bridge, 62 KM pass Mutambara turnoff on the left, 80.6 KM turn right into Hot Springs
From Birchenough Bridge heading north on the A9 to Mutare, 39.7 KM turn left into Hot Springs
GPS reference: 19⁰39′01.49″S 32⁰28′01.15″E
The Rupisi Hot Springs are at the headwaters of the Rupisi River, about twenty miles in a direct line in a south-westerly direction from Chipinge in the Melsetter district. About one acre has been enclosed by a fence, and this contains the eye of the spring. The water emerges scalding hot, but cools down as it flows into small pools and then a swimming pool.
Hot Springs is close to the A9 Highway as it heads south from Mutare to Birchenough Bridge.
There are over thirty known sites in Zimbabwe where hot water issues from the ground, with a maximum temperature of 90⁰C recorded at Kariba. The water is believed by some to have healing medicinal properties and they come long distances to swim in the waters believing it will heal skin diseases, sore backs, rheumatism and swollen legs; but an analysis of the water does not reveal any chemicals that confirm this belief. Chemicals found in the water include calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, fluoride, potassium, chlorides, phosphates, silicates, sodium and dissolved sulphur, the common “bad egg” smell. The water often appears to boil as gas bubbles are released.
Local communities believe there is much cultural and historical significance as the springs have gushed hot water for as long as their ancestors can remember, with some elders regarding them as holy. People often throw coins into the waters, hoping a wish will come true. Bathers swimming in the waters are not allowed to use soap as local people believe this may offend the ancestors.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority run the Hot Springs site which has self-catering chalets for hire to visitors.