The Sudwala Caves consist of an exceptional network of tunnels that provide a fantastic day of exploration for all ages. Lying in the Drakensberg escarpment, around 35km west of Nelspruit in the Mpumalanga province, the impressive channels and chambers are the oldest known caves in the world. Named after the Swazi captain, Sidwaba, who sheltered here in the 1800s, the caves are formed from Pre-cambrian dolomite rock and are around 2,500 years older than the Cango Caves.
Exploring the caves are exciting and challenging, with rock falls, mud, and underground streams throughout. The cave features impressive rock formations, such as the 150 million year old Lowfeld Rocket, 160 million year old Screaming Monster, and 200 million year old Samson’s Pillar. Besides these amazing rock displays, the caverns are adorned with fascinating stalactites.
The caves are dominated by an enormous chamber known as the Amphitheatre which can seat over 500 people. This chamber reaches 37m to the tip of the dome-like feature in its roof and has been used as a venue for countless operas and dramas. Interestingly, Ivan Rebroff, a famous Russian singer, tested its convenience for concert purposes in 1970 and found the acoustics to be just as good as any concert hall in Europe.
Visitors can discover the many mysteries of the caves on one of two guided tours:
The 1-hour Cave Tour
This is suitable for everyone, and leads through spacious, well lit caverns.
The 5-hour Crystal Tour
This is recommended for the more adventurous, as it involves crawling 2000m into the heart of the dark caves, through tight and possibly wet spaces, to see astounding aragonite crystals. The Crystal Tour takes place on the first Saturday of every month and accommodates groups of 30 people at a time. Alternative days can be organises for groups of 5 or more, provided this is arranged advance