650km (400mi) north-west of Gaborone, 50 km south east of the Aha Hills.
Near the northern/western Namibian border.
From Maun, take the main tar road to Shakawe and Namibia, turn west 2km after Tsau. Travel to the 144km point and turn left up the Nxainxaidum fossil valley for another 27km to the caverns. Drivers need 4WD, high clearance and long range tanks.
(S 20° 01.302', E 21° 21.275')
|Classification:||Karst cave. Dolomite.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|27-MAR-2003||stamp depicting Gcwihaba Caverns from Botswana, value P3.30 issued.|
Gcwihaba Caverns is a huge system of dolomite caves, located in a low outcrop of rock in the dry northwestern Kalahari. Its only accessible with a 4WD. There are no facilities at the cave, so take care about the necessary equipment. Enough to eat and drink for several days, wellingtons to wade through bat droppings, two electric torches and plenty back-up batteries are a must. The trip will take at least three days.
This is not a tourist cave, although it is listed in numerous tourist directories and guidebooks like Lonely Planet. We would not have listed this cave, if it was not already listed on numerous other pages. So the main purpose of this page is to warn (again) about the dangers of spelunking trips. A visit should be planned with much care, visitors should have some caving experience. And by the way: you might get informed about histoplasmosis before you visit the cave.
Several Maun safari companies organize trips which include Gcwihaba Caverns. So the safest way to visit them is on such a safari with a guide.
Gcwihaba Caverns has two entrances. The cave is mostly horizontal, but there are some steep precipices, as it has two levels. The noteworthy stalagmites reach 10m in height. The cave is inhabited by a large population of bats.
The cave was long known to the local !Kung people. They named it Gcwihaba which means "the hyena's lair" in !Kung. They first showed the cave to a European, Martinus Drotsky, in the mid 1930s.
A strange story about the cave tells about a late 19th century treasure which is said to be hidden somewhere in the caves. The fabulously wealthy founder of Ghanzi, Hendrik Matthys van Zyl, is said to have stashed a portion of his fortune here.