LENE TEMPELHOF reports
Try skinny muscling your way into a tight bottomless black hole. It’s so tight that you can’t visually navigate, as there’s no room to peer over your chest to see what’s next as you continue dropping down into the pitch black cavern.
Dangling feet frantically seek rocky footholds as you control your plummet down under. Invariably as one skids, or forces oneself through a squeeze, one redesigns one’s trousers to instantly look trashed.
With a descent into a cave, a flood of loose gravel may shower over you, so that by the time you arrive in the sub-terrain you need to recover from the dramatic, thrilling entrance and sit down in the dark and acclimatize.
Caves around the Cape Peninsula
There are close to 200 caves around the Cape Peninsula with new caves continually being discovered. So get out and start exploring the more accessible caverns.
Peers Cave is a National Monument located in Fish Hoek. It’s a 20 minute walk up a steep stepped sandy incline starting from Silverglade Sports ground. This cave is archaeologically significant, and findings from excavations initiated in the 1920’s are housed in the Fish Hoek Valley Museum. The large overhang has a spectacular view looking over both the Indian and the Atlantic ocean.
Cave in groups, go with experienced cavers
Elephants Eye cave also with a spectacular view over the Southern suburbs, vineyards and distance mountains and False Bay is accessed via Western Silvermine The lesser frequented Elephants Rump Cave is located much higher up Constantiaberg close to the Silvermine mast.
Woodstock cave can be accessed from the end of Tafelberg road that goes past the cable car station. Look out for the Cork Oak trees before you ascend along the zigzagging road up to the cave which has a panoramic view over the city. During rainy months a waterfall flows over the caves entrance.
Find Boomslang cave off the Echo Valley path just above Kalk Bay off Boyes Drive. This cave snakes through the mountain, involves some crawling and passing through a chamber inhabited by bats.
On the Southern side of Boomslang overlooking Fish Hoek two caves flank the exit. On the one side is Avernus a small dry cave and White Dome Grotto on the other which has a small chamber at the end of a crawl that can seat 10 people at a push. This pitch black soundproof venue is a great place in which to practise meditation. Also in the sub region is the Devils Pit and Oread Halls which can be abseiled into.
The Amphitheatre located higher up the Echo Valley path is surrounded by caves, look up to see Edwards Limit, Blue Disa, Squeezers and Egyptian cave. These neighbouring sandstone caves are lined with gorgeous white sand. A little further away is Sunbeam cave with a tricky entrance and Robin Hood cave which is a complex of underground tunnels.
Enjoy your explorations. Keep it safe and fun, cave in groups and go with experienced cavers into the more complex systems.
To wise-up on the whole experience, contact the Cape Peninsula Spelaeological Society (CPSS).
Call the CPSS: 021 701 0841
Search and Rescue: 10177 or 021 937 0300