Top 10 Caves In South Africa

Top 10 Caves In South Africa

1 of 11

South Africa is known for its wildlife and safaris, but the country also has dozens of subterranean treasures — caves that are portals to ancient human life. Many of them are home to ancient rock art and other findings that have resulted in a paradigm shift in how we understand the development of modern human behavior. In these caves, visitors can explore networks of tunnels, see beautiful rock formations, and get a glimpse into prehistoric life. Some of the top 10 caves in South Africa are accessible by car. Others, you’ll have to work harder to reach — by hiking there — but the payoffs are great!

Sources: Cango-Caves.co.za, Gauteng.net, SA-Venues.com, SudwalaCaves.com, EchoCaves.co.za, SouthAfrica.net, Nature-Reserve.co.za, ThingsToDo.Viator.com

Cango Caves

1. Cango Caves

Cango Caves, located 29 kilometers from Oudtshoorn at the start of the Cango Valley in the Cape, is South Africa’s best-known cave. Visitors have a choice of two tours. The Heritage Tour takes you through the gorgeous halls with names like Rainbow Room, Temple, and Throne Room. The Adventure Tour takes visitors deeper into the network of caves. This is not for the claustrophobic!

slide 2

2. Cradle of Humankind

If you are more interested in early human history than rock formations, then you will want to visit the Cradle of Humankind. The site includes many attractions, including tours of the famous Sterkfontein Caves. This is where scientists discovered fossils of early hominids and animals dating back more than 4 million years. They also discovered stone tools that were 2 million years old. Daily tours are available. Visitors can also tour other caves at Cradle of Humankind, including Plover’s Lake Cave, Wonder Cave, and Cooper’s Cave.

slide 3

3. Elephant’s Eye Cave

Elephant’s Eye Cave isn’t one of South Africa’s most majestic or historically-significant caves. However, it is one of the most fun caves to visit because you can set off on your own to the cave without a guide. The cave is located just outside Cape Town in the Silver Mine Nature Reserve. The hike to the cave isn’t difficult, save for the last part which is fairly steep. You are rewarded for your efforts with a spectacular view from inside the cave. If you are lucky, you will be completely alone and can enjoy a picnic right inside the cave.

slide 4

4. Sudwala Caves

If you want to tour caves without crowds, Sudwala Caves are a good choice. With a dolomite chamber measuring 70 meters across and 37 meters deep, these caves are nearly as impressive as Cango, but they aren’t visited by tourists as much. You can tour 600 meters of the caves with a guide. There is also a Crystal Tour which takes you 200 meters into the caves and involves wading through water and scrambling down rocks.

slide 5

5. Echo Caves

Echo Caves are located in Limpopo about 15 kilometers from the Strydom Tunnel. The caves were accidentally discovered in the 1920s by a farmer and his cow. The caves get their name from the echo sound when the rocks are tapped. Today, visitors can take guided tours of the caves and view the impressive rock formations and halls. Unlike some other cave tours, these tours are suitable for the young and the old.

Makapansgat. Photo: Mike Buchanan/GNoR BIG

6. Makapansgat Caves

Makapansgat Caves are also located in Limpopo. They are a very important archaeological site because of the vast amounts of fossils found there. It is also the site where the most complete Australopithecus africanus skull was ever found. Visitors can tour three of the site’s caves and see where the early human fossils were found and also see evidence of fire use in the caves.

slide 7

7. uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Caves

If you are true adventure seeker, then these caves are for you. The caves are located within the mountainous uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some 4,000 years ago, the San people lived here and made thousands of paintings in an estimated 600 caves in the region. Visitors can view many of these caves and shelters, and they can even stay overnight in a cave as camping is permitted.


8. Cathedral Caves

Cathedral Caves are located in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Free State. The caves offer a stunning example of sandstone weathering. The beautiful, curving shapes of the sandstone were carved out by wind and water over millennia. Visitors see rock art and learn about Basotho culture at the Living Museum.

slide 9

9. Wonderwerk Cave

Wonderwerk Cave is located in the Northern Cape off regional route R31 just south of Kuruman. The cave is an archaeological site, used as a shelter for thousands of years by early humans. Archaeologists made impressive finds at the cave, including stone tools dating back 2 million years. Visitors can tour parts of the cave. The cave is easy to access and tours are suitable for children, the elderly and wheelchairs.

slide 10

10. Blombos Cave

Blombos Cave is an archaeological site located in Blombosfontein Nature Reserve, about 300 kilometers east of Cape Town on the Southern Cape coastline. It is famous for the 75,000 year-old beads that were found there. The beads were decorated with abstract designs, making them among the earliest evidence of human artwork. The cave site was first excavated in 1991. Findings included ochre processing kits, marine shell beads and engraved bone. These findings and excavation of other Middle Stone Age sites in southern Africa resulted in a paradigm shift in understanding the development of modern human behavior.