Cango Caves

Useful Information

Location: 28 km from Oudtshoorn, Klein Karoo Kannaland, Western Cape.
Open: All year daily 9-16.
Heritage Tour: hourly on the hour, 9-16.
Adventure Tour: hourly on the half hour, 9:30-15:30.
Closed on 25-DEC.
Fee: Heritage Tour: Adults NZR 170, Children (6-16) NZR 120, Children (0-5) free.
Adventure Tour: Adults NZR 240, Children (6-16) NZR 170, Children (0-5) free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=5,320 m, T=18 °C.
Guided tours: Heritage Tour: D=60 min.
Adventure Tour: D=90 min, L=1,000 m, St=416.
English Afrikaans Français - French Deutsch - German
V=250,000/a [2000] V=236,000/a [2002].
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Professor E D Mountain (1970): How Nature Fashioned The Cango Caves, 15 pp, 3 photos, 1 survey. SB
Interesting little book. The survey is in Afrikaans, but the rest of the book is in English.
Members of the South African Speleological Association (1970): Cango, the story of the Cango Caves of South Africa
about 77 pp, 14 plates. Well written account. HB DW
Anne Landsman (1997): The Devil's Chimney: A Novel, Soho Press (October 1, 1997), hardcover 292 pp, ISBN: 1569471010
S.A. Craven (1999): Land values around Cango Cave, South Africa, in the 19th century, Cave and Karst Science, Vol 26(3) pp 127-128. Worldabstracts
S.A. Craven (2002): The impact of Cango Cave on the economy of Oudtshoorn, South Africa, Cave and Karst Science, Vol 29 (1) pp 45-46. Worldabstracts
Address: Cango Caves, PO BOX 255, Oudtshoorn 6620, Cell: +27-82-303-0029, Cell: +27-66-486-9475. E-mail: contact
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.


1780 discovered by Klaas Windvogel, a herder in search of lost cattle.
11-JUL-1780 first exploration by Jacobus van Zyl, the teacher Barend Oppel and the discoverer Windvogel.
1891 first tour conducted through the Cango Caves, the first guide was Johnny van Wassenaar.
1897 first rough survey of the first 26 chambers.
1930 test excavation by Prof. A.J.H. Goodwin (UCT archaeologist).
1956 survey by the South African Spelaeological Association.
1972-1975 Cango 2, 3, 4 and 5 discovered nearby.


Cango Caves, beneath the foothills of the Swartberg Range, are bearing evidence of early San habitation. The Khoisan used the entrance area of the cave as shelter. They never went deeper into the cave, as no human remains were found inside. The entrance to the caves was originally rich in bushman paintings, but with time these have been damaged. The San left this area and their cave approximately 500 years ago.

The Standard Tour shows the most impressive chambers of the cave, Van Zyl's Hall, (90 m x 50 m x 18 m) and Botha's Hall. Van Zyl's Hall was named after Jacobus van Zyl. He was a local farmer and a member of the first exploration team, and the first who was lowered down into this chamber. The tour ends at the Drum Room and the visitors walk back the same trail to the entrance. The cave shows magnificent dripstone formations, stalactites, stalagmites, but also some helictites and disks. The dimensions of the cave are impressive too. Being more than 5 km long, it contains the largest underground chamber in the country, measuring 220 m x 35 m x 35 m, but this huge chamber is not part of the tour.

The Adventure Tour is actually the same tour, but at the Drum Room it continues to lead deeper into the cave. This part of the cave is much more strenuous, so this tour is not suitable to elderly or corpulent people. First there is Jacob's Ladder with over 2OO steps, Lumbago Alley has a very low ceiling, for 28 m the roof is only about 1.20 m high. Then there is another descent on an iron staircase into King Solomon's Mines. From here a series of crawls forms a round course, which requires some fitness. The Tunnel Of Love is 74 cm high at the beginning, but only 3Ocm at the end, the Devil's Chimney is 45 cm and 3.50 m long, the Devil's Post Box at last is only 27 cm high. This adventure course is actual caving experience, but visitors do this without any caving equipment, like helmet or caving overall. The whole tour is electrically lit, so there is no need for lamps, and you will not get dirty by the crawling as the crawls are sufficiently cleaned by thousands of visitors.

Cango cave was discovered in 1780, but there seems to be some confusion by whom. One story tells it was discovered by Klaas Windvogel, a herder in search of lost cattle. Soon after the farmer Jacobus van Zyl, the teacher Barend Oppel and the discoverer Klaas Windvogel made the first exploration tour. According to other sources the cave was discovered by Jacobus van Zyl. We think the first story is more accurate.

Cango Caves is located in the Swartberg Mountain Range, a limestone belt which is 1,5 km wide and almost 16 km long. The limestones are Cambrian oolitic limestones formed by chemical processes about 750 Million years ago. They do not consist of animal shells and do not contain any fossils. The caves were formed during the last 20Ma, first being water filled for a very long period. The draining rivers cut into the rock and reached the level of the caves about 4Ma ago. At this time the cave fell dry and became a fossil cave. This is when the forming of speleothems started.

Cango Cave is the most visited show cave in South Africa. It is on the schedule of nearly every tour operator, especially for foreign tourists.