Cave Reservations Etiquette
I forgot to book Tarn Cave for last weekend and pitched up at the Bushman's Nek office.
I checked out the register and 2 guys had slept in Tarn Cave on Friday night with the idea that if,
"the weather was good, moving onto Bushman's Cave". So I figured the cave would be empty because the weather was good!
When arriving at the cave they were still there and had decided to spend another night. I was a little miffed but it seems they were caught in a storm on Friday afternoon and had decided to take it easy on Saturday. No problem with that and they were happy to share.
Now starts the fun part! Later that afternoon 4 older ladies pitched up at the cave. When I ask them if they had booked the cave, they said yes, "we booked 2 months ago but Garden Castle did not inform Bushman's Nek." The fact that someone was already in the cave did not seem to bother them too much. I gather they bullied the game guard back at main camp who despite pointing out that we were sleeping in the cave was unable to stand up to these formidable ladies.
What are your thoughts on a situation like this? Would you insist on your rights as having booked the cave 1st?
We started hiking quite early to give my son time to get there without knowing what his abilities would be and how he would cope with the hike and carrying his little backpack (he was just carrying water, a poncho, a chocolate and 2 toy cars). We eventually made it to the cave around 3 pm and had something to eat while Noah was bouncing with happiness at the prospect of his first night in the mountains. The cave had been booked for 5 people but I figured we'd ask if the group that had booked the cave if it would be okay for us to share the cave and give them the first choice of sleeping spots or we could just use the annex further down then it would be all good. We didn't unpack our bags in case there was an issue and sure enough there was.
When the group arrived at the cave the leader of the group was pretty rude to my wife and I and short of actually swearing told us we had to get out or else she would make sure we never hiked in the Injasuthi area again (as if!). Yeah, an MCSA group. The rest of the group were very apologetic and tried to suggest to her that we could all be accommodated - but she would hear none of it, not even the annex as she was expecting a group from the escarpment to come down and we had not booked the cave so we had to leave. So as not to spoil the experience for my son, I was extremely polite and thanked everyone, including the leader for the lesson learned and we moved back down the valley and set up camp there.
I've shared a cave that I had booked when others have asked for shelter on more than one occasion and it has always turned into quite a pleasant evening with a good few laughs shared.
The mountains don't belong to me nor the next person, but if someone else has booked it, I'm not going to bother to put myself in the same situation again even if they were to offer to share the space.
IMO the person who has proof of booking with them should get the right to say yes or no i.e. that they're willing to share the cave and they should also be given the choice of sleeping spots etc., IF they're okay with sharing the cave in the first place.
I have no problem with sharing a cave if someone needs shelter if something went wrong.
I go to the mountains for solitude (just my wife comes along). Occasionally I arrange a social hike and then I'm mentally prepared for it.
I respect the booking system because it brings a measure of control and allows one the opportunity for solitude without the weekend being spoilt.
I wanted to share the mountains with people I would go to the Alps in summer!
I hope I'm not sounding antisocial!
Things seem more under control, peaceful, and less things/people to worry about as such.
Love my solitude.
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If you want solitude, it is best not to go to a place like Injisuthi where other people will often be found. Bushman's Nek and Garden Castle have a lot of caves that see practically no use - I imagine Vast Cave is used about 3 times a decade.
It is very easy for different people to book the same cave via different offices. It is even worse for caves in Lesotho - really, if I book Bannerman Cave through KZN Wildlife, what water does that hold? The cave isn't even in SA. Hikers should be accommodating of other hikers, and similarly, mutual respect is key.
It has happened a few time were we booked caves well in advance and somehow the cave was double booked and we almost always seem to work it out between the groups. Double booking seems to happen when you book caves from one area office and traverse to another area office or make your booking through PMB. Hikers seem to be quite accommodating at most times, but there are the exceptions.
If you did not book the cave and someone else did, they should be given the right to occupy the cave and you should ask them if you can share, if they say no, then move on. Any group using a cave should be open to share a cave in an emergency situation.
Escarpment caves cannot be booked as far as I know, we always knew it was on first come basis but we always were open to share if space was not a problem.
DeonS wrote: Escarpment caves cannot be booked as far as I know, we always knew it was on first come basis but we always were open to share if space was not a problem.
My understanding as well, however when I was last at Monk's Cowl Office they said that nKosazana needs to be booked. So I booked it for the night that we intend to use it, but what if there are already hikers there, doing a traverse for example?
It's probably not really a very controllable issue, and I suppose needs to be sorted out amicably by the parties concerned.
Yes, it's not a perfect booking system and yes someone may pitch up at a summit cave who is doing a traverse etc. However if someone goes to a cave knowing that others are in the cave and seeing that in the mountain register, then I think that is very poor form!
We live in Africa where things work differently to Europe so the booking system is bound to be a challenge. Booking through the relevant authorities for me is like stating your intention to sleep in the cave that night. One must not think that it is written in stone. When the day arrives and you are at the office filling in the register and someone has got there before you, then that's just too bad.
I think it's the course of wisdom to take a tent in the car so that if there are no caves available for whatever reasons,you can still go out and enjoy the mountains.
Captain wrote: IMO the person who has proof of booking with them should get the right to say yes or no i.e. that they're willing to share the cave and they should also be given the choice of sleeping spots etc., IF they're okay with sharing the cave in the first place.
The actions of the hike lead towards you and your family was totally counter the spirit of fellowship and hiking. It reminds me of The Code of the West and how the hiking\climbing fraternity need to have a similar code of conduct.
Each encounter with fellow hikers\climbers should leave you with a feeling of belonging and purpose. Turning a family of 3 including a child no less!, away from shelter is totally counter to this. I don't care about the booking system in so far it giving you the right to turn into a douchebag.
What matters is how you act towards other hikers on the top of the mountain, no matter what type of right of way you have.