The Cango Caves are located in Precambrian limestones at the foothills of the Swartberg range near the town of Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The principal cave is one of the country’s finest, best known and most popular tourist caves and attracts many visitors from overseas. Although the extensive system of tunnels and chambers go on for over four kilometers, only about a quarter of this is open to visitors, who may proceed into the cave only in groups supervised by a guide. Tours are conducted at regular intervals on most days – there is a “Standard Tour” which takes an hour and an “Adventure Tour” which takes an hour and a half. The “Adventure Tour” consists of crawling through narrow passages and climbing up steep rock formations guided by small lights. The caves contain spectacular halls and grand limestone formations (on both tours) as well as some rather small passages on the Adventure Tour. The smallest passage that tourists will have to pass through on the Adventure Tour is just under 30 cm high at the exit.
The caves are considered to be part of the Garden Route. Prof. A.J.H. Goodwin (UCT archaeologist) carried out a test excavation in the Cango Caves in 1930. Stone artefacts and other cultural material show people had been living in the entrance to the caves over a long period during the Middle and Later Stone Ages. The caves were ‘discovered’ in 1780 by a local farmer named Van Zyl. The chamber he first was lowered down into (Van Zyl Hall, which is as long as a football field), is named in his honor. Further exploration was done and a second chamber discovered in 1792. The caves soon became a popular place to visit.