The Cango Caves
The Cango Caves are a series of dripstone caverns that open into vast halls of towering stalagmite formations with names like ‘the bridal couple’, ‘glass flower fantasy’, ‘weird cango candle’ and ‘the hanging shawl’.
WHERE?Oudtshoorn, Karoo, Western Cape
Almost 30 kilometres outside of Outshoorn in the Klein Karoo, and certainly one of the main reasons for placing this little town on your itinerary, other than the prospect of riding an ostrich, lie the Cango Caves, some of the biggest stalagmite formations in the world set in Precambrian (a time about 4500 million years ago) limestone.
Not all of the caves are open to the public – there is more than one section to the caves that took millions of years to form one of the world’s great natural wonders – but the main sections are available for amazing exploratory subterranean walks that include fumbling around on all fours in an effort to see all that is viewable.
In totality, the extensive system of tunnels and chambers in the Cango Caves stretch for over 4 kilometres, but the section open to visitors, about a quarter of this, takes place as part of supervised tours, including an ‘adventure tour’, which takes about an hour and a half.
The main chambers in the Cango Caves, called Cango 1, contain countless dripstone formations, and Van Zyl’s hall – named after its discoverer – is simply breathtaking it is so huge.
Cleopatra’s Needle, which stands 9 metres high and is at least 150 000 years old, is one of the main attractions at the Cango Caves, but the beautiful dark grey roof, with its smoothly sculptured hollows and pendants, comes a close second.