From enormous caverns to mere potholes leading downwards, caving opportunities abound in almost every province across South Africa. If getting into small, dank and dark places is your cup of tea, there's no shortage of suitable landforms.

With a relatively young landscape marked by several substantial mountain ranges, the southern tip of the African continent presents a wealth of opportunity for caving and the keen caver.

Whether you're interested in venturing into the hidden depths of the Earth, or if the mystery of humankind's origins is more appealing, a wide variety of caves lie waiting to reveal their innermost secrets, from fossils to bats.

Caving for the beginner might entail a short stroll through a recognised and popular cave system such as the world-renowned Sterkfontein, Cango or Sudwala Caves, or it might be a more intimate experience involving intricate climbing techniques and a distinct lack of claustrophobia.

In the Western Cape, the caves of the Peninsula have lured explorers since the 1800s. There are literally hundreds of caves throughout the Western Cape, with some featuring more than a kilometre of underground passages.

Prime caving sites to look out for include Peers Cave, just outside Cape Town, the Kalk Bay Caves and Tartarus Cave.

The Elgin Valley in the Cape Overberg region is characterised by majestic scenery and offers wonderful caving opportunities, while KwaZulu-Natal's awesome Drakensberg mountains are riddled with caves, many boasting remarkably well-preserved rock art.

Follow two golden rules when setting out on a South African caving adventure: never go alone and always advise someone else of your intended route.

Travel tips & Planning info

Best time to visit

Caving is an all-year round activity, but be aware of the rainy season, when sudden downpours can make caving dangerous.

Around the area

There are caves in every province across South Africa. Regional tourism offices can provide more detailed information.

Get around

Due to the often rugged environment in which caves are found, hiring a 4x4 vehicle would be advisable. It is preferable to only undertake this kind of activity with an experienced guide.

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