The Cango Caves are a series of dripstone caverns that open into vast halls of towering stalagmite formations with names like ‘the bridal couple’, ‘glass flower fantasy’, ‘weird cango candle’ and ‘the hanging shawl’.
The Cango Caves became a popular attraction during the 1800s. Many visitors broke off stalagmites and stalactites and wrote their names on the walls. In response, the then governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset, published the first Caves Regulation in 1820. It was designed to protect an environmental resource and banned the collection of souvenirs. Entrance to the caves cost the equivalent of six dollars, the modern equivalent of about R500. Many of the significant discoveries of the caves were made by the first full-time guide, Johnnie van Wassenaar, who opened many of the side chambers and introduced thousands of people to Cango 1, which remains the only part of the caves open to the public.
The 20 million year-old Cango Caves system consists of a series of hidden chambers cut deep into a thick limestone rock layer.
It is situated in the Swartberg Mountains, 30 kilometres north of Oudtshoorn, in South Africa's Western Cape Province.