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It may not be immediately apparent when you look up at Cape Town’s Table Mountain, but there are dozens of caves hiding in those vast rock faces. Some are small enough to allow only one person to enter at a time; others open up into vast surreal worlds. Whether you’re looking for a quick surge of adrenaline or that ultimate photo, here are some of the best caves to explore.
Perhaps the most popular cave in Cape Town in recent years, Wally’s Cave on Lion’s Head has seen a flurry of activity, so much so that it goes through intermittent periods of closure in order to ensure the rehabilitation of the pathways leading to this unique lookout point. The main drawcard of this small cave is its stunning framing of Table Mountain: it’s the perfect shot for that Instagram feed of yours.
Watchman’s Cave is another popular Lion’s Head spot that many Wally’s Cave fanatics tend to overlook. It’s on the other side of the peak, overlooking Signal Hill, Sea Point and the City Bowl, and though small, offers plenty of superb photo opportunities, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
This cave, on the False Bay side of the city, offers impressive views and is large enough to elicit a true sense of adventure in anyone who tracks it down. You’ll find it above the suburb of Kalk Bay, and it has two entrances, facing Fish Hoek and Echo Valley respectively. The easiest way to reach Boomslang Cave is to climb up Boyes Drive from Kalk Bay station, following the signs to Echo Valley.
Woodstock Cave is a large, horizontal cave that’s one of the largest on the front side of Table Mountain. It stretches up to 50 metres (164 feet) wide and 15 meters (49 feet) deep, and is situated on Devil’s Peak, high above the suburb of Woodstock. Though the interior is not necessarily the most exciting place to explore, it’s the panoramic views across the city below that make this one of Cape Town’s most popular caves to visit.
Named Elephant’s Eye because of its shape, which from the right angle reveals something similar to the eye of an elephant, this cave is easy to reach and offers spectacular views. It’s a popular day hike away from Silvermine Nature Reserve, which means it can get busy on good-weather weekends; but it’s a fantastic hike and a superb place to visit, especially if you’re looking for a cool place to shelter from the sun.
Though a significant distance from Cape Town, the largest and most dramatic caves in the Western Cape, the Cango Caves, are well worth the drive. The caves are in the foothills of the majestic Swartberg Mountains, and are a popular addition to a Garden Route road trip. You will need to visit them as part of a guided tour, but the interior is truly one of the most spectacular cave systems you could hope to encounter.
There are two worthwhile caves to explore in the Muizenberg region. Most committed hikers will know about Muizenberg Cave, which is easily accessible and offers great views down over the bay. But if you’re looking for a bit more adventure, keep going until you reach Tartarus Cave. Entrance is via a small hole on the side of Silvermine mountain, and it leads you through to several chambers that you can explore. It’s best to visit the cave with headlamps and in a large group, as there are some parts that are dangerous. Park opposite the Muizenberg shark spotters and keep going past the amphitheatre until you find the small entrance.
Peers Cave offers great photo opportunities over Noordhoek, and it’s an easy hike starting in the Silvermine parking lot. The walk to the cave shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, and though it offers limited exploration possibilities, it’s the perfect place from which to enjoy a drink or picnic as you watch the world pass beneath your feet.