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Boomslang Cave

in May 2012 - Hiker's Circle

Boomslang Cave is one of the most visited on the Southern Peninsula due to its proximity, relatively easy access and the fact that the cave tunnels right through the mountain. It is a cave that many schools and families visit with children because of the unique sense of adventure brought by crawling through a mountain.

The round trip offers enough exertion and challenge for children in particular and most adults too, to feel a real sense of accomplishment for what is not the longest or hardest hike in the world. The ‘usual’ entrance is from the northern side but we prefer the more evocative southern entrance.

As great a lesson as this is for children, teachers and parents should also use it as an opportunity to teach children about the environment and the effects humanity has upon it. Many caves on the Table Mountain Chain are the homes of endemic insects and other creatures that may exist in a few caves, or in some cases, only a single cave.

There are also colonies of bats that live in the cave and shouting, laughing and singing children really do disturb them. If you take children into the cave, try to keep their volume muted and don’t let them drop drink bottles and plastic candy wrappers in the dark corners. A very effective exercise for them is to ask them to keep silent in the main Cathedral Chamber and then switch out all flashlights for a few minutes. This way they will experience the cave as it is with no people in it. They will hear the bats squeaking high up in the rocky recesses of the cave and, as their eyes become accustomed to the dark, may even see a feint strobe of light reaching down through one of the holes in the roof to the cave floor. These details are usually missed by excited children simply jaunting through the cave as if it was a funfair ‘tunnel’.

Some of the surfaces in the cave shimmer when light reflects in the quartzite or mica crystals in the rocks. This is not to be dismissed as only water, although many of the surfaces are wet. If you catch it just right some walls seem to glow from within.

Another thing that is always fascinating in Boomslang Cave is the bright yellow lichen that appears in patches on the walls and ceilings. This lichen can also be found on the rocks on the peaks around the cave and it always fascinates me that it exists just as happily in total darkness.

Please also instruct the ‘children’ not to write on or gouge their names or messages into the rock surfaces of the cave. It seems that every time we visit the cave there are more and more names scrawled onto its walls.

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