Exploring Namibia's Caves


Namibia is not only renowned for its amazing wildlife and wide variety of people but also its unique geology. In this blog post we will be looking at three very different Namibian caves that members of the public can visit and explore.

There are over a hundred known caves in Namibia and most them are found in the Otjozondjupa Region in the north eastern territories of the country. Many theories have tried to explain the role that the caves have played in the country’s history and as a result the caves of Namibia hold a certain mystique and feature prominently in local folklore.

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The Otjozondjupa region.
(Image via Wikipedia)

 

Exploring these caves then is a way to delve deep into the history of the land and take a step back in time to a place that most travellers do not take the time to visit.

Arnhem Cave

This cave is located just 85km away from Windhoek and is located right on the edge of the Kalahari dessert in the central region of Namibia. The red sand of the ancient dessert and the sweeping vistas that surround the site of the cave are enough to warrant a visit.

 

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The cave was discovered in the 1930’s.
(Image via Tracks4Africa)

The Arnhem cave is the longest cave in Namibia and once inside the cave you can enjoy its mostly consistent temperature of about 25 degrees Celsius. The cave is also home to several species of bat including the giant leaf-nosed bat which is the largest insect eating bat in the world. These wondrous creatures are part of the caves delicate ecosystem and should not be needlessly disturbed by visitors.

 

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Respect the bats.
(Image via Britannica)

Where to stay

The Arnhem Cave and Lodge

This establishment offers a variety of accommodation options ranging from camp sites to chalets. The lodge also offers a three hour guided cave tour which is an absolute must. It is an easy tour suitable for the whole family (but not infants!) and there is little crawling and climbing. Obviously sensible shoes and adventure appropriate clothes are recommended!

 

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The caves are waiting to be explored.
(Image via WheretoStay)

If you are the only one in your travelling party who does not want to venture into a deep cave then fear not, the lodge also offers several other above ground activities including hikes, bird watching trips, safaris and there is a fully stocked restaurant, bar and refreshing swimming pool at the lodge.

 

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The facilities at the lodge are top-notch.
(Image via Cardboard Box)

 

The Ghaub Cave

The Ghaub caves are found just South of the town of Tsumeb in the north of Namibia. The cave was first described in writing by the German missionary Dr Henry Fedder who was part of a mission station nearby in the early 1900’s. The mission station is now a guest farm where cave explorers can stay.

 

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The old mission station in the 1920's.
(Image via Guestfarm Ghaub)

This cave is the third largest in Namibia and it is filled with geological oddities. From the usual stalactites and stalagmites to the more remarkable underground waterfalls and a formation of stalagmites known as ‘the Organ’.

 

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The cave is filled with geological wonders.
(Image via I Dream of Africa)

The caves also hold high anthropological value as there are several San rock engravings to be seen. Please remember that when you find these priceless pieces of history do not under any circumstance touch them. Just like the underground ecosystem these precious artworks are incredibly fragile and will be lost forever if touched by every visitor.

 

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A sign directing visitors to the ancient engraving.
(Image via Guestfarm Ghaub)

 

Where to stay

Guestfarm Gaub

The main reason why you want to stay at this guest farm is that it offers guided tours of the famous cave system. The owners of the establishment have a unique knowledge of what lies underneath the ground and the two-hour tours are often small in size and intimate. The facilities are also highly rated and visitors can be sure of a comfortable and enjoyable stay there.

 

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The guides are knowlegable and friendly.
(Image via Panoramio)

Again, there are other options for those travellers who do not wish to commune with the deep dark underground world. The owners of the Guestfarm Ghaub are more than willing to organise and supervise walking trails, mountain biking expiditions and guided nature drives for those travellers who would rather walk in the sunshine than explore the deeps of the earth; click here for more information.

 

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Remember, there is always time to relax when you’re on an adventure.
(Image via Expert Africa)

Because the caves are in the centre of a triangle formed by the towns of Otavi, Tsumeb and Grootfontein there are several other places you can stay that put you in striking distance of the caves. Click here for a list of all the lodges close to the caves.

Dragon's Breath Cave

This is one cave not for the feint of heart. Discovered in 1986 the cave is truly a natural wonder. It is geologically significant because it is home to largest non-subglacial underground lake in the world and this underground lake has an impressive area of almost two hectres and has a depth that is still unknown but thought to be over 100 metres.

 

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Explorers descending on to the surface of the subterranean lake.
(Image via Underwater Video)

You can find the cave in roughly the same area as the Ghaub caves but that is where the similiarities between the two systems end. While the other two caves we have mentioned in this post are easily accessible to the public, Dragon’s Breath Cave is only for professional caving enthusiasts with all the right gear. To get an idea of how tough it is to explore the cave read these two first-hand accounts of professional cavers.

 

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An adventure caver exploring the mighty cave.
(Image via Africa Geographic)

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The enourmous underground lake.
(Image via All Over the Map)

The rewards are proportional to the effort it takes to get into this cave system. And if you do make it down to the vast lake you may catch a glimpse of the Golden Cave catfish. Dragon’s Breath Cave is the only place on earth where these mysterious creatures are found and where only discovered and classified in 2013.

 

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These animals have been living undisturbed for thousands of years.
(Image via Daily News)

Where to stay

If you wish to visit Dragon’s Breath Cave then you will have to stay in Tsumeb. There are many options in this regard and you can look here, here and here for the place that best suits your needs.

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