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Wondrous caves of history and adventure

Wondrous caves of history and adventure

Man’s (and his predecessors’) presence in Africa is the oldest on the planet, with artefacts from early human existence having been discovered in the area that is now world-famously known as the Cradle of Humankind. This World Heritage Site has the richest collection of finds of hominid fossils in the world, and has been the subject of study of anthropologists, palaeontologists, and geologists (among many other rock and human behavioural specialists) the world over. Not only is this the site of the oldest human activity, but it’s also home to some of the oldest cave formations in the country.

The Wonder Cave in Kromdraai

Johannesburg has some exciting and adventurous things to do, be it screaming at the top of your lungs at Gold Reef City, or not feeding the animals at the various lion and wild parks and reserves. Many hotels in Johannesburg are situated close to these popular attractions, including the Wonder Cave in Kromdraai, which allows you to travel 2.2 billion years back in time.

The Wonder Cave is South Africa’s third largest chamber cave – at 46 000 cubic metres, it’s so named because it is a wonder to behold. It’s incredibly beautiful, with stalactites and stalagmites that are artificially lit to show their intricate formations and ethereal qualities against the backdrop of the cave. Many tourists have claimed that the beauty of the Wonder Cave easily trumps the equally famous Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn.

Getting into the Wonder Cave

The Cave was opened to the public in 1991, and many tourists and locals have since flocked to this amazing site to see the painstaking evolution of ancient, underground coral formations, which are still growing and ever-changing.

Tours into the cave take place hourly from 08:00 to 17:00 during the week, and until 18:00 on weekends. Night tours are available by arrangement. The tours consist of a descent down 90 steps and then an elevator ride (or abseil, for the more adventurous) down to the main cave, which is 60 m deep. The 125 m by 154 m cave is still in its original condition since its discovery during lime mining detonations. And while the cave was slightly damaged from these lime mining operations, it’s still a spectacular sight, complete with rimstone pools and interestingly shaped stalagmite formations (such as the praying “Madonnas”, and strange mushroom and popcorn shapes).

Many of the stalactite and stalagmite formations are very tall and unspoiled – some growing up to 15 m in length/height. This underground ecosystem is complete with its own colony of bats, so be respectful of their environment when you descend into the Wonder Cave.