Echo Caves


Useful Information

Image by Andre Grove, with kind permission.
Location: Ohrigstad, Isaac E Stegman Reserve, Krugersdorp 1739.
At the top of the Molopong Valley in Mpumalanga. 26 km from Ohrigstad, on the road to Abel Erasmus Pass.
(-24.562408, 30.603178)
Open: All year daily 8:30-16:30.
[2021]
Fee: Adults ZAR 80, Children (13-18) ZAR 50, Children (5-12) ZAR 30, Children (0-4) free, Seniors ZAR 60.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours: L=800 m, D=45-60 min, Largest chamber: L=100 m, H=40 m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Echo Caves, Isaac E Stegman Reserve, Ohrigstad, Krugersdorp 1739, Tel: +27-13-238-0015, Tel: +27-83-279-9942.
Postal address: Echo Caves, PO Box 481, Krugersdorp 1740.
E-mail:
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.

History

1923 discovered by the owner of the Klipfonteinhoek farm.
1959 opened to the public.

Description

Image by Andre Grove, with kind permission.

Echo Caves was discovered by the owner of the Klipfonteinhoek farm who was searching for water in 1923. He found the cave and was quite surprised, when he realised that some of his cattle had already discovered the cave before him. The animals went obviously unattended into the cave to drink.

But of course he was not the first to discover it, the cave contained numerous archaeological remains, implements and tools from the Middle and Late Stone Age. They also say there were remains of the early Iron Age. While there are remains of iron smelting in central Africa from 2000 BC, the massive use of iron and thus the Iron Age started around 200 in west Africa, invented by the Bantu, who then spread all over Africa. They reached South Africa between 300 and 400, so that's the time frame of the Iron Age remains. Today the Bantu are an important part of the South African inhabitants. So obviously the cave has been known for hundreds or thousands of years by the locals. Many of the findings are on display in the museum near the cave entrance which is called Museum of Man. The cave was declared a National Monument.

The cave was opened to the public in 1959. It was developed after the construction of the Abel Erasmus Pass and the Strijdom Tunnel nearby. The new road caused an increase of travellers to this area, which made this tourist venture possible. Today the cave is located in an area of great tourist interest in the northern region of the Drakensberg range. There is the Panorama Route along the Blyde River Canyon and the Great Escarpment with God's Window viewpoint. The best time to travel this area are the dry winter months (JUN to AUG) because the escarpment forms a barrier for the clouds bringing a lot of mist and rain. But despite its location, this cave is not on the major tourist routes, especially it is not on the schedule of tour operators. As a result it is much less frequented and the visit is more tranquil.

Once the local people used one of the stalactites as a drum to warn of approaching Swazi. The caves, extending for some 40 km, were transporting the sound for very long distances. As a result the people were warned and took refuge in the cave.

There are numerous legends about the cave, this one is explaining the name. A funny story, but typical for stories about mysterious caves, it is also fantastic. The cave is not 40 km long, sound does not travel over long distances underground, and nobody has been able to reproduce this fantastic acoustic experiment. However, stalactites produce sound when hit, and there is such a stalactite which is close enough to the surface to be heard outside.

Another legend is even weirder. It tells about men with long white robes, who came in search of gold and to trade with the indigenous people. We have no idea what the timeframe is, what people wear white robes, and how much of the legend is based on real history.

The cave also offers cave trekking tours after appointment for small groups. There are hotel rooms and a youth hostel with decent prices on site.