The KhoiSan used the Cango Caves thousands of years ago as shelter but nobody else realized the beauty under the limestone ledge until the curiosity of a farmer in 1780 made him lower himself into the caves to investigate. For the first time his dim torch showed an awesome splendour that still takes the breath away today as countless people make the pilgrimage to the caves each year.
The Cango Caves can be found about 26 kilometres north of the town of Oudtshoorn, which lies in the heart of the Little Karoo. In the last century the caves have become world renowned not only with South Africans but with international tourists as well, who visit the Cango Caves in droves.
Giggling groups of school children visit the caves as part of their curriculum and dare each other to go through the Devil’s Chimney, a rather tight passage in the caves and to be posted down the Devil’s Post box that is only 27 centimetres wide.
For me, simply standing in Van Zyl’s chamber staring at the stalagmites, stalactites and helictites takes my breath away.
There is so much to see, whether you choose the standard tour or the adventure tour, you are in for an experience that leaves you feeling humble. You will wander through chambers with whimsical names such as Rainbow Chamber, Bridal Chamber and Fairy Chamber and stand in silent awe as you look upon the translucent formations in the Drum Room.
For those of intrepid spirit the adventure tour starts in the Grand Hall, then through the aptly named Lumbago Alley and King Solomon’s Mines. From there you squeeze through the Devil’s Chimney, go through the Coffin, down to the Devil’s Kitchen and finally holding your breath, you post yourself through the Devil’s Post box amidst shrieks of laughter and often lots of groaning and puffing.
The Cango Caves complex is well run with an Interpretive Centre and Auditorium that explains the how and the why of the splendid formations of the caves to visitors. Continuous movies and exhibitions give a well-prepared overview and you can watch a short movie that gives you glimpses of the wonders of Cango 2 that is not open to the public to preserve the formations and have even more glorious sights than Cango 1. The Cango Caves restaurant offers great food in the true Klein Karoo tradition for tired visitors after their grand experience through the caves.
Cango Caves Telephone Number: +27 (0)44 272-7410