The Cango Caves are the biggest show-case cave system in Africa and also South Africa’s oldest tourist attraction. Any visitor to Oudtshoorn will make a stop at the Cango Caves.
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How to get to the Cango Caves
The Cango Caves are just outside Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Unless you are visiting the Cango Caves as part of a tour group, the easiest way to get there is using a car. The nearest airport is the George Airport, approximately 50 kilometres away.
History of the Cango Caves
The Cango Caves started receiving visitors in the 1800s, but the visitors damaged the stalagmites and stalactites on the cave to have a souvenir from their visit to the caves.
The Governor of the time, Lord Charles Somerset issued the Caves Regulations in 1820 to protect the Cango Caves as an environmental resource by banning the collection of souvenirs from the cave. As part of Lord Somerset’s regulations, the entry to the cave became expensive at an equivalent of R500 ($33).
The first full-time guide, Johnnie van Wassenaar, discovered many of the sights in the caves. Although there are many chambers in the Cango Caves, only Cango 1 is open to the public.
Practicalities of a visit to the Cango Caves South Africa
The Cango Caves are open throughout the year, except for Christmas Day. Tours are available every hour from 9:00 – 16:00.
The Cango Caves offer two guided tours to choose from. The Heritage tour is an easy that anyone can do, regardless of age. The Adventure tour is slightly more expensive – the Adventure tour is perfect for those who don’t mind crawling through narrow spaces. Both tours take approximately 60 to 90 minutes to complete.
It is important to note that neither of the tours are suitable for wheelchairs, children under 8, pregnant ladies or anyone suffering from claustrophobia, high blood pressure, asthma or muscular ailments.
The tour guides are experienced and accredited guides. Tours are offered in different languages, including English, Afrikaans, German and French. When we were there one of the tour guides spoke Mandarin, so different language options are available – it is best to enquire when you get there!
It is best to book a tour in advance as the Cango Caves are a popular sight and the number of people per tour is strictly controlled for safety reasons.
The Cango Caves can be slightly stuffy and humid, it is best to wear lightweight clothing, especially during summer times. The temperature inside the cave stay constant at 18 degrees celsius.
The Heritage Tour
Since I am slightly claustrophobic and had two young girls with us, we opted for the Heritage Tour. I was pleasantly surprised when we entered the caves as it did not feel narrow and confined, but spacious. Breathing was not difficult as there is sufficient oxygen inside the cave.
The Cango Caves have different chambers. As soon as you enter the caves, you are in Van Zyl’s hall, which is a spacious hall with many stalactites. From here the tour goes to the Botha’s Hall where the giant eagle formation is visible.
The stalagmites and stalactites inside the Cango Caves are amazing. Nature is a wonderful artist. The lighting in the cave also adds to the ambiance and highlights specific features inside the cave beautifully.
The Cango Caves were inhabited from the early stone age. They depict scenes of this early life throughout the cave. There are cave drawings on some walls in the cave.
During our tour, our guide switched off the lights inside the cave. It was very dark inside the cave which is probably why there are bats that inhabit the cave. While the lights was off, our tour guide sang a song to show us how amazing the acoustics inside the caves are! This was such a unique experience!
There are many steps in the Cango Caves. When the steps are wet, they can be slippery. So, be careful!
Other bloggers’ experiences in the Cango Caves
I found it difficult to find other bloggers’ posts about their visit to the Cango Caves, but here are two very different posts:
More information on the Cango Caves South Africa
The best website for information on the Cango Caves and the two tours on offer is the Cango Caves website.
Accommodation near the Cango Caves
The closest town to the Cango Caves is Oudtshoorn where there are many accommodation options available.
Have you visited any amazing caves on your travels? Please share any experiences you have had!