Caving in Cape Town is fun - Why not try it?
Caving is often described as an adventure sport. Indeed many of the caves in the Western Cape provide the eager explorer with obstacles such as sheer drops requiring ladder or rope techniques, and/or awkward squeezes where a reasonable level of fitness, agility and determination would be to your advantage. On the other hand, you'll find that there are plenty of caves which are relatively easy to negotiate, at the worst requiring a hands and knees crawl on soft sand.
Of course once you've entered the cave, you're usually feeling your way along in absolute darkness, totally reliant on your helmet light or torch - and if necessary, your fellow cavers.
Caving is a team activity. You support and help each other through awkward sections of the cave, or assist with ropes and anchors when required, often in a light hearted manner, and this rapport with your fellow cavers makes your underground experience somewhat special.
Caving in Cape Town
Remember that many caves are dangerous to negotiate and your safety always comes first. This means that you never cave alone, or attempt to explore a cave system of which you have no prior knowledge, and/or for which you are inadequately equipped.
The Cape Peninsula Spelaeological Society CPSS is an enthusiastic Cape Town caving club whose members are actively involved in the exploration, conservation, recording and researching of the various sandstone and limestone cave systems, as well as their flora and fauna, in the Western Cape and beyond. The club holds regular monthly caving meets and socials and welcomes enquiries from interested persons who would like to enjoy safe, fun caving under experienced supervision.
View/Download a caving club introduction brochure: CPSS Information
Caving in Cape Town
There are over a hundred caves recorded on the Cape Peninsula. These range from small overhangs, like Peers Cave and Woodstock Cave, to deep cracks on Table Mountain, some of which have more than 1km (0.62 miles) of underground passage. Many of the caves occur at current and previous sea levels and were formed by wave action that widened weaknesses in the quartzitic sandstone and granite base rock of the Peninsula. Higher up in the mountains, all the caves occur in Table Mountain sandstone.
Most of the caves formed below the water table, where water chemically weakened the structure of the sandstone and streams bore the loosened grains of sand away. Many of the caves on Constantiaberg and in the Kalk Bay and Muizenberg mountains were formed in this way. The large caves found on Table Mountain developed through mechanical rather than chemical processes. Geological movements shifted parts of the back table of the mountain so that cracks eventually appeared.
Some of these cracks are open to the surface, whilst others are deeper down and therefore not visible. Wynberg Cave, Bat’s Cave, Smuggler’s Cave and the Giant’s Workshop are some of the caves formed by this geological process. Although water has enlarged many of them over time, they were primarily formed by movements of the rock near the surface of the mountain.
No commercial caving is allowed within the parameters of the Table Mountain National Park. Cavers should adhere to the general rules of access to, and use of, both private and public land. In particular, they should seek permission from private landowners. No littering, graffiti or other defacing of the caves is allowed.
There should be no disturbing of wildlife within the mountain’s caves. Importantly, if bats are disturbed while they are hibernating they may die due to the unexpected, excessive expenditure of energy that occurs as a result." © Fiona Mcintosh
'The Table Mountain Book' by Jose Burman.
'An Essential Guide to Caving' by Peter Swart. Darklife
Postal details: The Cape Peninsula Spelaeological Society (CPSS)