He was indeed lowering himself 10 m into the first great hall, which is about 98 m long, 49 m wide and 15 m high. So began the human history of one of the greatest treasure chests of nature.
Situated in a limestone ridge, some 20 miles outside of
Oudtshoorn you will find The Cango Caves. This cave system contains some of
the finest dripstone caverns and towering formations an adventurer is likely
The caves consist of a number of large and smaller
chambers each displays some or all of the five limestone deposits found in
this area; namely Dripstone, Flowstone, Rimstone, Shelfstone and Roof
Over some 20 million years, this limestone band formed in
the Swartberg ridge, water seeped into the fissures and gradually dissolved
the limestone forming the spectacular formations that we see today.
--- Van Zyl's Hall ---
As Van Zyl's Hall opens up you see the
as The Dried Tobacco leaves of Oudtshoorn, they decorate the grey-blue of
the limestone ceiling. Van Zyl's Hall is over 295 feet long, 165 feet wide
at its widest point, and is 60 feet high in places and over 300 feet of
limestone separates the cavern from the ridgecrest above.
The hall is dominated by the giant Organ Pipes,
a spectacular dripstone/flowstone combination. Your eyes are drawn to a
tall, slender stalagmite named Cleopatra's Needle rises nearly 30 feet and
is still active and growing. Cleopatra's Needle is estimated
to be in excess of 150 000 years old.
Near the base of the staircase stands an impressive
formation known as The Pulpit of a Great Cathedral, complete with angel's
wings. At the base of this formation imaginative eyes may make out the shape
of The Kneeling Camel, against the side of which nature's artist has left an
unusual stain known as The Moses Figure. It represents the biblical Moses,
dressed in a flowing, brown robe, his arms outstretched in blessing.
--- Botha's Hall ---
Leaving Van Zyl's Hall through a wide passageway, you
enter the spectacular Botha's Hall, with its decorative side-chamber, The
Throne Room. Glancing to the left as we enter Botha's Hall, we see a
formation resembling the beak of a Giant Eagle, feeding its chick.
Botha's Hall is dominated by two completed columns soaring upwards to the
ceiling. The largest formation some 500 000 years old, is known as The
Leaning Tower of Pisa. Beyond it stands a column some 45 feet high and
approximately 250 000 years old.
To your right you will see The Madonna and Child, and
alongside her and to the right stand the Three Wise Men and two shepherds
that are kneeling. Completing the scene, to the left of the main staircase
is a trio of formations known as The Temple Presentation, depicting Joseph,
Mary with head bowed, and the gaunt figure of the prophet Simeon. Further
left, high in a dark alcove, you can see the figure of a crucified man.
Moving through the Botha Hall to the left, you climb an
open platform flanked by two huge formations: The Heavy Stage Curtains, on
the right, and The Petrified Weeping Willow Tree on the left.
Ahead of you is the majesty of The Throne Room, dominated
by a huge, tapering stalagmite known as the Throne. The right hand side of
the Throne Room is dominated by an exquisite white flowstone formation names
the Frozen Victoria Waterfall.
Leaving the Throne Room and Botha Hall, you climb a
staircase, pass a hollowed out stalagmite known as The Pulpit, then proceed
through a narrow passageway into The Rainbow Chamber.
--- Rainbow Chamber ---
Against the back wall, in the eerie glow of lights, we
make out the head of Old Nick, the tame Cave Devil, posed in profile.
Immediately above the viewing platform, bathed in soft, blue light, is the
cavern's Biblical Section. High against the wall we may see an open Family
Bible. Beside it is the outstretched Lost Wing of an Angel. Below and in
front of the viewing platform, is another hollowed-out stalagmite known as
The Christening Font.
--- Bridal Chamber ---
A flight of steps leads into the Bridal Chamber with its
fourteen-post bridal bed. The bride may be spotted in the kitchen to the
rear, sitting on a low stool and weeping quietly to herself. A clue to her
tears may be found in the bottle, prominently displayed on a rock mantle
piece. Active stalactites drip constantly from the low roof above.
--- Fairyland ---
Fairyland is the next chamber, and it provides fantasy for
the younger generation. Colored lights light up the Fairy Queen's Palace,
The Fairy Castle, an inverted Sunflower. Here, the first
helictites may be
observed, twisting against the ceiling in frozen motion.
--- Drum Room ---
The Drum Room, 1650 feet from the entrance of the cave,
provides the first major turn-back point on tour. Here you may be startled
to hear the resonant beat of African Drums, created by your guide striking a
curtain-like shield. In this chamber there is also a striking example of a
opaque formation. Alongside it a stalagmite resembling a Bushman hut lends
fantasy to the presentation of "Sunrise and
Sunset over darkest Africa."
From this point the tour becomes quite difficult and is
not recommended for the claustrophobic or acrophobic. Jacob's Ladder, with
its over 200 steps, leads through The Grand Hall into The Avenue, and then
the low confines of Lumbago Alley.
--- Grand Hall ---
Towards the end of the Grand Hall you will pass Lot's
Chamber, where a group of stalagmite represent the biblical
Lot, his two daughters, and his wife, who turned into a pillar
of salt. Alongside the viewing platform is another hollowed-out stalagmite
known as King Arthur's Throne.
--- Lumbago Alley ---
Beyond The Avenue you enter Lumbago Alley that is 300 feet
long. For the most part the roof is low and for 75 feet of the Lumbago Walk
the roof height seldom exceeds 4 feet.
Emerging from this tunnel you can see delicate roof
crystals and get to view some of the smaller grottos.
--- Crystal Palace ---
The roof of the Crystal Palace
is covered with ice-like crystals and weirdly contorted helictites. A light
to the left reveals a semi-transparent crystal wall.
Moving on to the next chamber, you pass an active
candle-wax column in delicate golden hues.
Steps lead downwards into the cellar-like chambers of King
Solomon's Mines. The cavern gets its name from a formation high up near the
roof, that resembles a king with a bearded face wearing a crystal crown. His
throne is mounted on an inverted protea, South Africa's
Alongside the throne hangs a gigantic ice-cream cone. The
roof of this chamber is decorated with more helictites.
--- Devil's Chimney Section ---
An iron ladder ascends from King Solomon's Mines into the
unique caving adventure of The Devil's Chimney section. First you have to
crawl through The Tunnel of Love, a low passageway some 29 inches high,
narrowing at one point to about 12 inches, where larger cavers are likely to
receive a loving squeeze!
--- Ice Chamber ---
The tunnel takes you to The Ice Chamber, which has a
fascinating shelfstone ledge high around the outer wall. This ledge
indicates the level of a cave pool from a bygone age. The pool's level
ultimately subsided, leaving only a shallow pool in the cavern today.
--- The Coffin ---
Next is The Coffin, a hexagonally-shaped hole in the
shelfstone, which is the beginning and end of the final circular route. The
cave opens out again as we pass through the Ice-cream Parlor into the
colorful beauty of the Devil's Workshop. The ceiling is decorated with many
The way ahead leads over a steep hump, which leads you
into the Devil's Kitchen, with it's notorious Devil's Chimney.
--- Devil's Chimney ---
The guide points to a narrow crack in the wall - surely
someone's idea of a joke! But no; this is the Chimney. Peering in you see a
steep shaft about 18 inches wide that goes up for some 15 feet. There is a
light at the top and you squirm through the chimney into another larger
chamber, only to be confronted by an even smaller opening.
--- Devilís Post Box ---
This is the Devilís Post Box. Using 'Leopard Crawl' you
work your way forward and come to a low, wide slot which is the only exit
route and is only 10 inches high. (No that is not a typo)
Some guides recommend going head-first, the alternative of
feet-first results in an easy slide down the smooth, sloping wall and being
dumped out on the flowstone floor below. You have now reached the furthest
point of the tour.
From here you head back down Jacobs ladder, through the
cave complex and back to the cave entrance.
Cango Two "The Wonder Cave"