Ok Marti we are going to start our journey at Echo Caves, situated near Ohrigstad in Mpumalanga on the Panorama Route.
Expansive caverns that stretch for miles, towering cave roofs that sheltered nomadic tribes and beautiful limestone formations that are a sight to remember – Echo Caves offer all this and so much more says our tour guide.
By the way, is anyone claustrophobic?? The caving tour is not recommended for people with claustrophobic problems.
We have a really chatty tour guide so I think that this wil be a rather informative tour...yippeee!
This underground wonderland was stumbled upon in 1923 by the owner of the farm called Klipfonteinhoek when he was searching for a source of water. Great was his surprise when he realised that some of his cattle had already mysteriously disappeared into the cave!! After exploring the cave it was soon realised that this dark underworld carried with it the most beautiful gems of nature.After the completion of the Abel Erasmus Pass and the Strijdom Tunnel in 1959 the cave was opened as a tourist attraction and was later declared a National Monument.
There are electric lights, staircases and railings, and most passages are high enough to walk upright and crawling is kept to a minimum.
So why Echo Cave??
The name Echo was given to the cave, as a certain stalactite formation produces a distinctive echoing sound when tapped on.
We listened in wonder to the anecdotes of an extraordinary past; and thought back in wonder to the days when these stately stalactites were instruments to raise the alarm against trespassers....
Of course Feroz had to test it......and yes, this echo can still be heard on the outside of the cave today.
The spectacular limestone and dripstone structures inside these natural caverns make for interesting imaginary figures which can be seen in chambers throughout the cave as it winds through the mountain.
"Where else can you feel the raw energy of Earth as you walk amongst the rugged terrain that have withstood the test of time? asks our tour guide of us.
"Listen to the whisperings in the wind for these walls have many tales to tell; within these sturdy walls, the lives of the ancient Sans people unfolded as they explored this rugged and beautiful terrain, a group of nomadic people who were one of the oldest people" he says
Thus, the San rock engravings amidst these caves are truly noteworthy for it is the work of those who have walked amidst the rich African surrounds in its pristine state, way before the onset of urban grayness and monotony.
"Can you feel the magic surrounding these caves; it unveils the stories of mankind's forefathers, for numerous implements and tools from the Middle and Late Stone Ages were uncovered in this area" ....our tour guide is just so passionate about this place....awesome!
He suggested that we check out some of these artifacts that are now stored in the Museum of Man (located just a drive away).