Cango Caves

Posted on Wed May 15, 2024.

Situated 29 km from Oudtshoorn, at the head of the picturesque Cango Valley, lie the spectacular underground wonder of the Klein Karoo - the Cango Caves.

The limestone beds of the Cango Group are made through movement in the Earth's crust. This process of `cave making' takes millions of years. The Cango Caves is one of the Worlds Great Natural Wonders, sculptured by nature .

The Cango Caves bears evidence of early San inhabitation with the entrance to the caves originally rich in ancient bushman art.  The San left the area roughly 500 years ago, unfortunately the paintings have been damaged through the ages.

According to legend the Caves were discovered during 1780 by a local farmer Jacobus Van Zyl. Early visitors had to brave the pitch darkness of the vast caverns from the poor light of self made candles. Over the years improvements took place and today modern technology makes it possible that all the wonders of the cave to be skillfully illuminated.

The Cango Caves became a popular tourist attraction in the 1800’s already, however many visitors broke off and damaged the dripstone columns.  The Governor of the Cape at the time, Lord Charles Somerset, published the first Caves Regulation in 1820 which was designed to protect the environmental resource of the caves and ban the collection of souvenirs.

The Cango Caves is located on a limestone belt which is 1,5km wide and almost 16km long and were formed 750 million years ago.   Stalactites (hanging columns), stalagmites (columns growing upwards) and helictites (columns which grow in all directions) glimmer from every corner of the caves and form magnificent features to the already incredible Cango Caves.

The caves are divided into Cango One, Cango Two and Cango Three, with many deeper parts still being explored.   Most of the significant discoveries in the caves were made by the first full-time guide, Johnnie van Wassenaar, who worked here for 43 years from 1891.In 1921 the Oudtshoorn Municipality became the administrator of the Cango Caves and in 1938 the Cango Caves was proclaimed a Historical Monument

Between 1964 and 1994 concerts were held in the van Zyl’s hall but were stopped

For conservation reasons