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SSouth Africa offers a variety of caves for you to explore, from hominid fossil sites to ancient San cave paintings. Experience the ringing sounds of one cave, then crawl through tunnels on your hands and knees in another!
South Africa’s top 10 caves
Sterkfontein is the world's richest hominid fossil site and this is where you will find the Sterkfontein Caves, Cradle of Humankind, in Gauteng, part of the World Heritage Site where the world-famous early human remains of “Mrs Ples” and “Little Foot” were discovered.
The Cango Caves, near Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape, is one of the longest and largest cave systems in the world. Iced with spectacular dripstone formations, they can be explored via two routes through its 5.3km of tunnels—one on well-lit walkways and the other on your hands and knees on an adventure deep into the cavern.
SSudwala Caves, one of the oldest cave systems on earth can be found near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. With a dolomite chamber measuring 70m in diameter and 37m in height, it has rock formations sculpted over aeons. Evidence of some of the earth’s oldest life forms has been found in its limestone.
Named after the ringing sound the rock formations inside the caves make when they are struck, the Echo Caves are found west of the Strydom Tunnel in Limpopo. It also boasts impressive stalactites and stalagmite formations, and a beautiful hall—the Crystal Palace.
FFor a short time, each day, sunlight pierces the darkness of Cathedral Cave to reveal brilliant stained-glass coloured lichens. The cave houses a colony of rare bald ibis and was a site of worship for the Basotho people. It is an enormous cavern measuring 250m in length and 50m in depth located in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
Believed to be 2.2-million years old, the Wonder Cave in Kromdraai, Gauteng, has impressive dripstone formations. It is also home to a bat colony. A favourite Gauteng spelunking spot, abseil into the cave then get down and dirty to explore its depths.
The world-famous archaeological site, Makapansgat in Mokopane, Limpopo, boasts several caves. Here numerous fossils of Australopithecus africanus, our Ape-man ancestor has been found. A tour of the site starts at the Arend Dieperink Museum.
VView dramatic scenery over the ocean and the Walker Bay Reserve from the Klipgat Cave. In Hermanus, in the Western Cape, middle-Stone Age artefacts, bone tools and human remains were found in the cave.
Estimated to be 2.3-billion years old, the Wonderwerk Cave, in Kuruman, in the Northern Cape has San cave paintings dating back 10 000 years. Recently, man-made artefacts of at least two million years old were found.
For a quintessential, “Berg experience”, camp overnight in one of the 60 plus caves where camping is permitted in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park Mountain Range in KwaZulu-Natal. Many of the caves are rich in San rock art sites.