De Kelders and its Coastal Cave Dwellers

Posted under Travel Blog by Dawn Jorgensen on 16th August 2013

Imagine Life Through the Eyes of Middle Stone Age People

Troglodyte. Its one of my favourite words. I just looked it up for the purpose of clarity and provide the following definition:

'Trog•lo•dyte - noun : a member of any peoples who lived or were reputed to live in caves. Synonym: CavemanCave-dweller.' Amazing.

With this term dancing off my tongue, I was quick to join Chumani and his Grootbos guests on a trip to De Kelder (-Dutch for Cellar), for an afternoon's excursion to see the numerous coastal caves found there.

We parked the vehicle and took the wooden walkway towards the most famous of them, Klipgate Cave (-stone hole), named after the window like opening that offers unsurpassed views over the bay. The afternoon sun was low on the horizon. The waves wild in the wind, the tide was coming in. Heaven really.

Formed millions of years ago through the erosive action of pounding waves and wind, the caves open up along the cliffs, exposed to rising sea levels, they were once home to Middle Stone Age people and later to the KhoiKoi.

It is easy to understand why Klipgat Cave was such a popular choice. Offering shelter, a source of fresh water from the spring and a constant source of food from the ocean, this was hunter-gatherer paradise, as was revealed in excavations which exposed the remains of fishbones, shellfish, stone and bone artifacts. Even sheep bones were found, indicating that they were already herding sheep at this early stage and possibly even kept dogs and cattle.

Chumani relayed anecdotes about early man. How the KhoiKoi were later joined by the San as they searched for fresh water. Reaching a compromise that meant water and shelter in exchange for meat and animals skins for warmth. A valuable commodity to the KhoiKoi who were not natural hunters; but rather gathered their food from the ocean.

We crawled through the small opening in the cave to a large hall that revealed the substantial area in which they had settled.

Chumani pointing out the opening that we were to crawl through. Yes - and we really did.

At the opening to Klipgat Cave in the afternoon sun.

Doing what cave dwellers do. Silhouette games.

After the walk, and with high tide a growing reality, we climbed out and settled on an outcrop overlooking the bay for sundowners. Reflecting on what life was like for early man that sheltered here. No bubbly, yet fire, warmth, comfort and conversation. I could almost hear them storytelling in their unique language.

I am certainly spot on with my gut feel that I’m a natural troglodyte. Where else will I find open-air living that rivals this.

(All Images are Courtesy of Dawn Jorgensen)

About the Author - Dawn Jorgensen

Dawn is a natural born traveller with more than a decade's experience designing dream holidays and taking many herself as The Incidental Tourist. She shares her experiences, photographs and anecdotes with others afflicted by the gift of wanderlust. Read more of Dawn's Grootbos Blog Posts, visit her at The Incidental Tourist, follow her on Twitter @DawnJorgensen or go to her Google Profile.

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