Pioneers to progress
1Sterkfontein Caves, Cradle Of Humankind, Gauteng
2Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn, Western Cape
Iced with spectacular dripstone formations, Cango is one of the longest and largest cave systems in the world. Explore 2 routes through its 5.3km of tunnels – 1 on well-lit walkways, the other a hands-and-knees adventure deep into the cavern.
3Sudwala Caves, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga
One of the oldest cave systems on earth, its dolomite chamber measures 70m in diameter and 37m in height. Amid rock formations sculpted over aeons, evidence of some of earth’s oldest life forms have been found in the limestone.
4Echo Caves, West of the Strydom Tunnel, Limpopo
The natural caverns here contain impressive stalactites and stalagmite formations. See the Crystal Palace, one of the most beautiful halls in the cave, and visit the museum. When struck, the rock formations inside the caves produce a ringing sound – hence the name Echo Caves.
5Cathedral Cave, Golden Gate Highlands, National Park
This enormous cavern measures 250 m in length and 50 m in depth. For a short time each day, sunlight pierces its darkness revealing brilliant stained-glass coloured lichens. The cave houses a colony of rare bald ibis, and was a site of worship for the BaSotho people.
6Wonder Cave, Kromdraai, Gauteng
Believed to be 2, 2-million-years-old, the cave system contains impressive drip stone formations and is home to a bat colony. A favourite Gauteng spelunking spot – abseil into the cave then get down and dirty to explore its depths.
7Makapansgat, Mokopane, Limpopo
This world-famous archaeological site has several caves, and has yielded numerous fossils of Australopithecus africanus, our ape-man ancestor. Take a tour of this fascinating site, starting at the Arend Dieperink Museum.
8Klipgat Cave, Walker Bay Nature Reserve, Hermanus, Western Cape
Middle Stone Age artefacts, bone tools and human remains have been discovered in this cave. Its windows provide dramatic views over the ocean and the Walker Bay Reserve.
9Wonderwerk Cave, Kuruman, Northern Cape
This ancient cavity is estimated to be 2, 3 billion years old. San cave paintings dating back 10 000 years have been discovered, and more recently, man-made artefacts, thought to be at least 2-million years old.
10uKahlamba-Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal
Some 60 caves and shelters, many of them rich San rock art sites, are found throughout this mountain World Heritage Site. Overnight in one of the caves, where camping is permitted, for a quintessential ‘Berg experience.