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NAJC20 Day 19: Oudtshoorn – Paarl

Oudtshoorn – Paarl, South Africa

We begin our day paying a visit to the well-known Cango Caves. These caves are comprised of incredible halls and magnificent limestone formations. A local guide will come along and will be more than happy to teach you all about the system of the caves which stretches out for more than 4 kilometres. Journeying through the Klein Karoo, we follow onto Route 62. Making our way through the rural towns, we have the opportunity to sample the variety of treats and bakes along the way. One of the highlights today is Ronnie’s Sex Shop, not a sex shop at all, but a very interesting pub. Due to this being our final night, we will all attempt to head out to a gorgeous local restaurant for a delectable dinner.

A popular belief is that the Cango Caves were initially explored by a local farmer named Jacobus van Zyl (after whom the first chamber, Zyl’s Hall, was named.). However, researches have not been able to reveal anyone by that name who was present in the Cango region in the 1770’s. In any case, it is now widely known that the Caves had been known to man since the Early Stone Age. During the 19th century, the Cango Caves entrance was 5 Rix Dollars, today’s equivalent of R500 (ZAR), but that did not discourage destructive tourists who or carving their named into the Cave walls an callously chipped away at portions of the fragile stalactites and stalagmites to take home as souvenirs. This resulted in Lord Charles Somerset, governor of the Cape Colony, publishing the very first Cave Regulation in 1820. The first law was constructed to protect the environmental resource of South Africa. It prohibited the collection of souvenirs, created fines for anyone found damaging the Caves formation and initiated an entrance fee that was to be paid to the District Officer who was made responsible for implementing these rules. Most of the important discoveries within the Caves were made by its very first full-time guide, Johnnie van Wassenaar, who was employed for 43 until he retired in 1934. He discovered many side chambers and introduced thousands of people to Cango 1, which is the only portion of the Caves that the public may visit. It is clear today that the Caves were known to man long before the Europeans initially landed in the Cape. Evidence of this is in recent findings of numerous tools discovered in the heart of the Cave’s mouth, thus proving that humans had lived and taken shelter here for at least 80,000 years.

Accommodation: Two Per Room: Le bac Estate
Facilities: En-suites Per Room Please visit the website of the accommodation provider for a full list of the facilities offered
Route: Oudtshoorn to Paarl  ±370 km
Activity Package: Cango Caves Heritage Tour
Included Highlight: Stop at Ronnie’s sex shop
Optional Activity: Dinner Out

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