Over 120 caves have been registered in
Namibia, the various environments providing plenty of adrenaline-inducing and
educative experiences. The longest and only ‘tourist’ (because of on-site
facilities) cave in Namibia is Arnhem Cave, with slightly over 4,800 meters
total passage length and intersect groundwater. The cave is very dusty and dry,
with almost no secondary cave formations. Visitors are allowed only torches or
cave lamps to negotiate Arnhem's large chambers and winding passages. The lack
of development causes minimal disturbance of the extensive and diverse bat
population, which also ensures the conservation of several unique invertebrate
species. Six species of bats have been recorded at Arnhem, including the giant
leaf-nosed bat. Overnight accommodation is available at the site.
A national monument and the third
largest cave in Namibia, the Gaub Cave in the Otavi Mountains can be visited on
the Ghaub Guest Farm, from where tours are organized with a designated guide,
minor’s lamp and safety helmet. The Gaub cave is 38 meters in depth with 2.5 km
of chambers and passageways. Petrified waterfalls, organ pipes, rock curtains
and interesting crystal growths are some of the features to be seen.
Dragon’s Breath, near Tsumeb, is
another well-known cave, hosting the world’s largest underground lake. Cave diving
can be done here, but it’s only accessible for professional and well-equipped
Another well-visited cave of a totally
different nature is Phillip’s Cave in the Erongo Mountains north of Karibib.
Containing a famous rock painting of a white elephant and many others, it is
surrounded by an evocative rock formation, called Bull’s Party, due to its
semblance to a group of conferring bovines.
Permission from the landowners is
required to visit other caves in Namibia, with visits to certain caves requiring
official permits. Visitors are recommended to wear industrial dust masks when
visiting caves with thick deposits of dry bat guano. Since bats are of great
ecological importance, visitors are asked not to disturb them, particularly
during the wet season (January–April) when bats are breeding.
Cave disease (histoplasmosis) has not been recorded from any Namibian caves.
Prospective visitors, particularly if they come from countries with histoplasmosis, or visit Namibia after
caving in such countries, are therefore requested to ensure that all their equipment
is cleaned and sanitized before entering Namibia. Such simple precautions may
keep Namibian caves uninfected and safe for casual visitors.