Exploring South Africa’s Klipgat Cave

Posted by - January 12, 2014 | Category: Africa, Escapes, South Africa

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa

In the Gansbaai suburb of De Kelders, just a short drive from Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, lies a cavern called Klipgat Cave. It’s one of the many massive caverns lining this coast, and even though it’s the most popular, we were one of only two groups visiting the afternoon I went. Call it luck. Call it off-season. For whatever reason, visiting such a spectacular locale with so few tourists was one of the highlights of the natural landscape of South Africa during my visit.

Kligat Cave Trail, De Kelders, South Africa

These caverns formed millions of years ago from erosion caused by underwater “aquifers” — saturated rock through which water can easily move. Although hidden for centuries, the caverns revealed themselves over time, no match for the relentless pounding of waves. The caverns now make up part of the Walker Bay Nature Reserve.

Entrance to Klipgat Cave, South Africa

Excavations in the caves in 1969 unearthed tools and pottery over 2000 years old. Further digging in 1992 revealed bones and human remains from the Stone Age over 70,000 years ago. Most people don’t come for the bones though. They come for views like this.

View from Klipgat Cave

De Kelders, South Africa

The hike down to viewing boardwalk is relatively easy, although you do need to be reasonably fit and agile to make your way over the rocks into the actual cave itself. It can also get quite windy here, so sturdy shoes and a firm grip are a must.

Klipgat Cave, De Kelders, South Africa

It’s hard to believe this area was once 5 kilometres from the sea, but that’s what time and global warming will do to you. 

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Our guide Clayton from the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve runs these tours several times a week, so he knows the history well. It’s one of the most important archaeological finds in the Western Cape. The rare remains found here have been found in only two other places in South Africa — Klasies near Humansdorp, and Blombos Cave near Still Bay.

inside Klipgat Cave, De Kelders, South Africa.jpg

Klipgat Cave is far more spacious inside than I had anticipated, it’s easy to see why those Stone Agers made it home. I’m sure they even took plenty of requisite photos like the one I took below. 

Man On The Lam, from inside Klipgat Cave, De Kelders, South Africa.jpg

The Walker Bay Nature Reserve where the cave is located is also prime stomping ground for whales, so don’t be surprised if you see a few on your way down.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve 292

Klipgat Cave a great way to spend a couple of hours during your visit to the area. Just remember to make your way back to the viewing platform before high tide — as you can see above, we may have gotten out just in time.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve 303

Note: I was a guest of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve during my time in Gansbaai, South Africa, but all views are my own. You can book it (or any other hotel in the area) through Accommodirect when planning your travel accommodation in Gansbaai.

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9 comments - add one
  1. Those pictures look incredible. South Africa is definitely on my bucket list– the history it possesses and the views on the Cape look unforgettable. That country has been an icon for historic movements, but I never suspected Stone Agers to carve their ways through a cave now hovering over the ocean!

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