Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cango Caves

Cango Caves are located in the southern part of South Africa's Swartberg mountains, near the town of Oudtshoorn. The Caves were visited the next day after crossing the Swartberg gorge. The total length of the passages is more than 4 kilometers, but only one-quarter of it is open to visitors, and even that with a guide only.

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The caves were discovered in 1780 by a local farmer Jacobus Van Zyl. It`s more correct to say that re-discovered - as the entrance of the cave had been inhabited in the Stone Age already.

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The first bigger hall, Van Zyl Hall, named after the discoverer of the caves.

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A view back to the entrance. This staircase is built later, earlier only ropes enabled to get inside.

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More thorough study of the caves began in 1897, and then the first 26 rooms were charted. The first area of 775 meters long was later called Cango 1, and the beginning of the passage is open for tourists.

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Cango Two was covered in 1972 - the next 270 meters, - the end of it was under water. The next area was named Cango Three, it means one more kilometer of caves. The longest underground room was almost 300 meters.

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Visitors are offered two tours – either Standard Tour lasting for 60 minutes and marked on the plan with yellow and green – or Adventure Tour, lasting for 90 minutes and it requires passing very narrow places.

The very narrow place was called letter box or Letterbox, height 27 cm, and in 2007 on the way back a visitor got stuck there for 10 hours which in its turn kept inside the other 23 tourists who happened to be behind imprisoned tourist.

For a moment an idea came to my head to take the Adventure Tour, but then looking at the 27 centimeter opening and the shadowy cage the idea remained unfinished..

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Cango Caves Organ

Stalactite or stalagmite? And how these thingsform? From the ceiling drips water, which contains lime salt and that in its turn melts limestone, and the water drips from the same place for hundreds and thousands of years and so stalagmite grows from the ground. Stalagmites grow from the top downwards and when within hundreds of centuries stalagmites and stalactites meet - they create fantastic pillars.

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Cleopatra's Needle, about 10 meters high - perhaps 150,000 years old.

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And even in a place like this somebody has tried to do graffiti and write a name.

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The right lighting will, of course, in places like that, change a lot.. For a moment it was demonstrated in the first hall, how deep dark it would turn when all the lights were turned off and how little light one candle could give.

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Here are two photos from the same place with different lighting. The place is called the Rainbow Room.

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The natural lighting.

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An hour underground passed without noticing.

At the entrance there was still a small museum to spend the rime until the next visit began.

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The fossil of Lystrosaurus

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And just a good example of how little time the mankind has been living on the planet. If the life-time of the planet were one year then the 4000-year history of the mankind would fall on the last minute.

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