Klipgat Cave, Western Cape
Did you know?
Klipgat's limestone cave was formed over millions of years by exposure to the ocean tides.
Klipgat Cave is one of South Africa’s most valuable cultural and historical sites. Once upon a time, when the ocean was some 5km distant from the cave, early humans lived here. It provided everything they needed – shelter from the storms, food from the ocean, and fresh water from a nearby spring.
Klipgat Cave is in the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, just 3km from the quaint fishing village of De Kelders, which the locals claim has the best whale watching in South Africa. The name De Kelders means 'the caves' and there are many limestone caves in the area.
The Walker Bay Nature Reserve stretches along the Atlantic coast from De Kelders to the Hermanus Lagoon and, if you’re feeling energetic, you can follow a 24km-long hiking trail that stretches along the coastline.
The 7km-long Klipgat Trail that takes you to the cave starts at Gansbaai harbour. It's a lovely trail boasting rock pools, stunning ocean views and the rare fynbos of the Cape Floral Kingdom – the smallest of the world's six floral kingdoms.
If you don't feel like a hike, you can start at Klipgat Cave itself. Climb down the steps and take the viewing boardwalk. Excavations have discovered Stone Age artefacts, tools and human teeth, which give clues to the ways our early ancestors lived and worked.
These Stone Age human remains are among the earliest known Homo sapiens fossils in the world – and they are the most modern looking of ancient human remains. We would definitely recognise them as fellow human beings if we had come upon them as they shucked oysters.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0) 28 384 1439
How to get here
The Klipgat Cave can be reached from the Walker Bay Nature Reserve entrance in De Kelders.
Around the area
Gansbaai is renowned for its great white sharks and there are a number of shark-cage diving operations in the area. Nearby Dyer Island is home to thousands of endangered African penguins.
Tours to do
Take a boat tour to Dyer Island. You are not allowed to land on the island, but you will see many penguins, seabirds and Cape fur seals. If you're lucky, you may even spot some great white sharks patrolling the waters.
On foot. You need to be steady on your pins and be reasonably fit as there are a lot of steps to climb.
What will it cost
Entrance to the Klipgat Cave is free.
Where to stay
There's loads of accommodation in the area, but if you want some superb whale watching, forget the budget and stay at the Marine hotel, Hermanus, or Birkenhead House.