Things To Do in NelspruitGo deep at Sudwala Caves
Where? Next to Dinosaur World. R532 towards Lydenburg, take R37 towards Nelspruit for 20 km, take R539 offramp at Rosehaugh, travel 16km and turn right at T-Junction. (50 km outside Sabie).
When? Monday to Sunday from 08h00 to 17h00. Guided tours every half hour for an hour - last 16h30.
How? Call +27 (0)13 733-4152
How much? Falls into price group R1 to R100 per person. Confirm with the provider.
More? See website
The Sudwala caves are the oldest caves on earth and encase the oldest dolomite chamber in the world, the Owen Hall extending 70 metres in diameter and reaching a height of 37 meters.
A series of Mpumalanga caverns link numerous rock cavities to each other and mankind to one another with modern day visitors standing in the very same rock formations that sheltered pre-historic man from the elements that led to the discovery of this cave entrance. The turn of the 19th century saw upheaval amongst native tribes and this natural cavern hide-away was used as a refuge and named after Swazi officer 'Sudwala'.
The caves are estimated to be over 3 000 million years of age with a fossilised ceiling made of 2 000 million year old algae colonies known as stramatolites; one of the earliest forms of life discovered in the Southern Africa. Once exploited for the deposits of bat guano (dung used as an African delicassy and a western fertiliser) the cave was open to the public by P. R. Owen when he purchased the farm the cave existed on and built a road that led to the entrance.
The source of the constant source of fresh air that blows through these caves is yet to be discovered and so dictates legend is the full extent of the caves which is believed to extend in entirety under the mountain range, all the way to the town of Lydenburg 40 kilometres away. Rock falls, mud and underground streams make the full exploration of this magnificent underground world challenging.
The tallest stalagmite discovered in the half a kilometre stretch that is open to the public stands 11m high and is accented by dominant drip-rock formations. A comfortable walking tour through this vast subterranean complex of stalactites and stalagmites is an illuminating experience of mammoth corridors and halls. A private tour of the Crystal Chamber deep into the cave is possible by arrangement.