The Caves of Ifidi

08 Oct 2010 22:04 #1904 by SeriousTribe2
** This thread discusses: The Caves of Ifidi **

Brilliant article Intrepid. This must be one of the biggest and best of the summit caves!
Am going to google and plot.

Shot :woohoo:

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09 Oct 2010 22:15 #1905 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Re: The Caves of Ifidi
Good job Intrepid!

We bow to your superior cave-hunting skills (and persistence, I take it!) :laugh:

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11 Oct 2010 09:02 - 11 Oct 2010 09:18 #1908 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Re: The Caves of Ifidi
Glad you enjoy the article guys! Though it was written some time ago, when the site was upgraded in Sep 2009, I never got around to fixing the links and republishing the pictures. Finally I got around to doing this. I've also re-embedded an interactive Google Map into this article, so you can check out these caves there too.

@Stijn: I'm sure you can relate, the first 10 minutes of a cave-hunt involve skill in knowing where it might be. Thereafter it becomes shear persistence!

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 11 Oct 2010 09:18 by intrepid.

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19 Mar 2012 12:57 #53247 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Re: The Caves of Ifidi
@Slingsby2: I wonder if you could offer us any insights into which cave was the original "Ifidi Cave"? Please see link to the article at the beginning of this thread.

Your maps unmistakably point to the shelter behind the Northern Ifidi Pinnacle. This detail is lost in the new maps, by the way. I was told that Reg Pearse made use of this shelter. References in "Cradle of Rivers" by David Dodds also seem to point to this shelter. The appendix of caves in the second edition of Dave and Pat Irwin's "Field Guide to the Natal Drakensberg" refer to Ifidi Cave as being "very shallow, very poor shelter" (very true for the shelter in question), but due their recorded altitude for the cave (3140m), I think they may have been referring to what I call "Veranda Cave" in my article.

So was the original Ifidi Cave really the crude shelter behind the Northern Pinnacle as your maps suggest (which means that large cave under the cliffs of Ifidi Peak should technically have a different name)? Or was there a legend of a good cave in the Ifidi area which people could not readily locate and which they confused with the shallow overhangs more readily located? I'd be really interested to hear your opinions on this, and what sources/references you used in labelling the cave.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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19 Mar 2012 13:57 #53248 by Slingsby2
Replied by Slingsby2 on topic Re: The Caves of Ifidi
Intrepid: Phew! I'm having to ratchet up my failing RAM, here. We only ever went up Ifidi once & we definitely stayed in the grotty little shelter marked on my map. Looking for other caves wasn't really in our brief and I'm pretty sure we took the word of the MCSA guys on the "committee" for the name, location and size of the cave. As I recall the next day was pretty misty and we had a bit of a nervous [and wet] "feely-feely" stumble around to Mbundini, so we wouldn't have spent any time looking for anything better. "Ifidi" or "False Ifidi", it wasn't that much worse than some other much-vaunted caves that we relied upon. Nkosazana above Grey's Pass - I think I still have the bumps on my head. Stayed there many times, once with a cat [who caught a mouse - a story for another time] and that place was always wet. Nonetheless, thanks for the great info and the nostalgic pics! - Peter

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20 Mar 2012 05:30 #53250 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Re: The Caves of Ifidi
Thanks for the reply Peter :)
This does confirm that there is a historical tradition pointing to the shelter behind the Northern Pinnacle as being Ifidi Cave, with occasional references pointing to Veranda Cave instead. It is still not clear when the bigger cave was discovered. Will keep digging.

On a side note, I've heard several negative impressions on Nkosazana Cave. I guess its strictly a dry season cave. My own experiences in it have all been pleasant, on a number of occasions, the best of all being on a morning when we woke up in the cave to a white landscape outside.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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20 Mar 2012 05:40 #53251 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Re: The Caves of Ifidi

On a side note, I've heard several negative impressions on Nkosazana Cave. I guess its strictly a dry season cave. My own experiences in it have all been pleasant, on a number of occasions, the best of all being on a morning when we woke up in the cave to a white landscape outside.


I always hear negative reports on certain caves - I have been very fortunate in never having problems like this, even when I slept in "I'm sure its not a" Cave, I woke up in the mist and 1m further down the bank than where I was when I went to bed, but I was completely dry, and despite the 20 degree slope on the floor, the cave was fairly comfortable (assuming I haven't just forgotten how uncomfortable it was)...

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20 Mar 2012 09:39 #53257 by Sterkhorn
Replied by Sterkhorn on topic Re: The Caves of Ifidi
In respect of Nkosazana Cave, I think it can depend on "how the wind blows". Our experiences have been good in the past, bearing in mind that we have usually visited it in Autumn/Winter months. However, a few years ago we were up there in early May, a week after a snowfall, and the cave was completely clogged up with snow (we could not get in at all). The wind had obviously caused a snowdrift up around the cave.

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15 May 2012 18:59 #53889 by Sterkhorn
Replied by Sterkhorn on topic Re: The Caves of Ifidi
We spent the long weekend on a leisurely hike between the Amphitheatre and Icidi areas, with two nights spent in Ifidi Cave. Thanks again Intrepid for the write-up on the caves. It is truly one of the Berg greats, with an awesome view. I was also impressed with its shelter from the wind. The early part of the weekend was very gusty, and whereas the Ifidi Annex was still very wind-blown, true Ifidi was pleasantly and deceptively calm.




Taking into account the observation techniques one develops over time when cave hunting, such as recognising potential rock formations and overhangs, an observation on approaching the area brought a question to my mind. From a point at the water source near the Singati Wall, the rock outcrop over the Ifidi Cave is very prominent (as it is from the mentioned Thaba Endanyazana), and lends itself to further investigation. Granted I had the advantage of your description and one member in my party insisted that there was no safe access to the feature that was my goal (as observed from a distance). My question: Did you find the cave via the means described in your write-up, by progressively venturing further round the grass slopes and investigating the rock outcrops as you went, or did you, through observations of the rock structures from different vantage points lead you to investigate that particular outcrop as a potential site?

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16 May 2012 06:08 #53893 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Re: The Caves of Ifidi
Glad you enjoyed the cave, Sterkhorn. Also good to get confirmation that it is relatively wind-sheltered. I've noticed this before too.

By the time I discovered the larger cave I had the benefit of knowing that there was something else out there that I hadn't seen yet, due to a reference by a climber who had climbed the pinnacles. I had a sense of where it could be because I had fine-combed the area before, and my gut-feel was that the views from Thaba Endanyazana would provide more clues. On returning to the area that's the first thing I did and within minutes it confirmed everything. Looking back this is what I should have done from the beginning, but the false caves had me thinking that Ifidi Cave was a dud.

These days those grassy ledges that skirt around buttresses, such as the one that the cave lies on, are definitely more on my radar for exploration, since there are several good ones around, but obviously not all reveal more caves. The ledge that Ifidi Cave is on actually continues on for a fair bit after the cave around the corner.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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