If you are looking for more than a picnic and some prime views when you go caving, Cape Town will not disappoint. Unknown even to many of the locals, there are literally hundreds of caves concealed within the mountains around the Mother City, some of them offering exciting exploring and extreme adventures.
- Upon your belly… Boomslang Cave offers a classic caving experience complete with bright yellow lichen, a maze of glittering quartzite encrusted tunnels, hundreds of bats and some slippery spots. Creep in to the narrow crevices of this cave and leopard crawl to the other side of the mountain. The rewards are spectacular views over Kalk Bay Harbour and a great sense of accomplishment which make up for the lack of challenge hiking up.
Boomslang cave is easily reached from Silvermine on Ou Kaapse Weg side or from Boyes Drive via the Echo Valley Trail.
- Down the rabbit hole… Tartarus Cave is one of the most complex in the vicinity of Cape Town. Secluded amongst the rocks and fynbos of Silvermine Mountain, the entrance to the cave is nothing more than a steeply sloping 1.5m wide hole in the ground.
Make your way down this cavity and explore the 50m of chambers and slippery, narrow passages below. You will need a flashlight and someone who knows their way around – Tartarus Cave is not for the novice caver or those who are prone to claustrophobia.
The hike up to the cave is well worth it even if you don’t have what it takes to go in, especially from September to December. At this time of year the sloping trail is mostly shaded and lined with flowering plants.
Tartarus Cave is accessed from the Bailey’s Kloof sign near 110 Boyes Drive in Muizenberg. Follow the jeep track past the Amphitheatre stone beacon for about half an hour until you see the cave.
- Do not enter… There are several other caves in the Kalk Bay area that are considered dangerous and only navigable by experienced cavers in the company of those who have been there before.
Muizenberg Cave starts out innocently enough with a large entrance hall. To the right there is a narrow crawl space with a deep well at the end of it. Rather admire these murky depths from a distance unless this is a hobby you are well familiar with.
White Dome Grotto is found next to Boomslang Cave and is not safe to enter beyond 3 or 4 metres.
Devils Pit, Avernus and Robin Hood Cave should not be attempted at all without specialised training and equipment.
Despite these dangers, caving can be a fun adventure with the proper training. Unless you are visiting caves that are known to be safe, rather check with the Cape Peninsula Spelaeological Society before entering them. Otherwise, rather confine your activities to other Cape Town luxury activities.