Common myth has it that the Caves were first explored by a local farmer named Jacobus van Zyl (after who the first chamber, van Zyl's Hall, was named) although research fails to reveal anybody by that name in the Cango area in the 1770's. And besides we now know that the Caves have been known to man since the Early Stone Age.

Still, even if there never was a Jacobus van Zyl, the Cango Caves have been at the forefront of tourism in South Africa since the end of the 18th century: the first to be protected by environmental legislation and the first to employ a full-time tourist guide, they remain South Africa's oldest tourist attraction


Important Dates

1756: The government awarded the first land grant in the area to Phillip du Pre, whose farm was called Cango-Matjiesrivier.

1760: Hermanus Steyn of Swellendam named another farm grant Combuys aan de Cango (kitchen of the Cango). The entrance to the caves is located on this farm.

1780: Cango Caves is discovered.

1806: The first visit to Cango Caves was recorded. 

Early explorations & surveys

1816: P.H. Poleman

1816: A plan elevation was made by Rev. George Thom showing the extent of the cave to be 350meters, from the entrance to the African Drum Room.

1822: George Thompson

1880's: Johnny van Wassenaar (established route to Devil's Workshop) 

Some notable visitors

1816: George Thom (scientist)

1822: George Thompson (Cape Town businessman/graffito)

1831 Sir Lowry Cole (graffito)

1840: Lt. W.H. Sherwill (Indian army officer/graffito)

1855 J.F. Victorin (Swedish naturalist)
Bishop Robert Gray

1860: Sir George Grey (Governor)

1873: Sir Henry Barkly (Governor/graffito)

1890: Lt.Gen. H.A. Smythe (Acting Administrator of the Cape Colony)

1896: Dr. F. Purcell (S.A. Museum)

1898: Sir Alfred Milner

1925: The Prince of Wales visits Cango Caves.

1925/9/30: Prof. A.J.H. Goodwin (UCT archaeologist)

1927: Dorothea Fairbridge

1929: L'Abbe H. Breuil (French palaeontologist) C.J. Langenhoven (author/politician/lawyer/graffito)

Route 62 Info
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