Caves in and around Mossel Bay
3 min read
Mossel Bay has a rich history that dates back to some of the earliest documented human habitation. The caves along the Garden Route offer the perfect opportunity to explore our history, while enjoying the beautiful surroundings of our coastline.
Cape St Blaize Cave
Situated right underneath the St Blaize Lighthouse at The Point, the Cape St Blaize cave is the most accessible of the caves in the Garden Route. With no entrance fee and little driving, this natural grotto overlooks the Indian ocean and is the perfect place to feel a little closer to our ancestors from over 150 000 years ago. The cave was lived in until the 15th century, when Europeans set foot in the area, and is also known as the Bat’s Cave, due to the colonies of bats that made the cave their home. The first archaeological excavations in the 1880s found evidence of inhabitation dating back 80 000 years, placing the inhabitants in the Middle Stone Age. More recent information, however, suggests that inhabitants were older and came from the San or Khoekhoen people, meaning that humans’ earliest ancestors might have lived here in Mossel Bay.
Pinnacle Point Caves
The Pinnacle Point Caves have a similar lengthy history. Excavations in the last 20 years have brought up important archaeological finds: the earliest examples of harvesting shellfish can be found here, as well as the use of pigments for symbolising (possibly for body paint) and the use of heat treatment to make stone tools. Two caves, Cave 13B and Cave 5-6, are particularly important for these finds. Stalactites in these caves have also been used to tell scientists much of the natural environment of this area from thousands of years ago, including moisture content, weather, and plant-life. To visit the Pinnacle Point Caves, book one of the many archaeological tours offered – moderate fitness is required as there are around 200 steps on the way back up.
Perhaps the most famous caves on the Garden Route are the Cango Caves. Located 29 kilometres from Oudtshoorn, this is perfect for a day trip! The caves stretch for around 16 kilometres and the limestone dates back 750 000 years, which has led to no fossils being found. Stalagmites and stalactites abound in the caves, with many being named – ‘the bridal couple’, ‘glass flower fantasy’, ‘weird cango candle’, and ‘the hanging shawl’ are a few examples. It is believed that the Khoisan used the entrance to the caves as shelter from around 10 000 years ago but never went much deeper into the cave system. Rock paintings covered the walls at one point but much of it has been damaged. As with the other caves, the indigenous people left the caves around 500 years ago when the Europeans came ashore. Standard tours are available and Adventure tours will give you a true experience of spelunking.
If you require any directions, please feel free to ask at reception, as our team will be more than happy to help. Don’t forget to tag us in your caving pictures, as we love to see the adventures our guests get up to!