Cave Reservations Etiquette
Like with any organisation you gotta take the good with the bad, but if the good guys start excusing bad behaviour of fellow members then one has to question the integrity of the group as a whole.
As a rule everyone that I have had the pleasure of interacting with on VE has been great. Never had an issue there...
Is that code for "take a hike"?
Wish I could - but I will be representing the Allies this weekend as the 3 other PMB players play for the Axis in a WW2 wargaming tournament in Pretoria. My first mid-war tournament - time to remember how useless Shermans actually were
Captain wrote: lol! Yeah, that was meant to be ME taking a hike back out of the cave that I hadn't booked! Note the tent strapped to the bottom my bag!
With all these "no shave November" kind of traditions, we should have a "no tent November" campaign going...
Bigsnake wrote: So here's the story…
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?
Hi Bigsnake, I was one of the 2 guys at Tarn Cave when you and your wife arrived this past Saturday. Just to set the record straight: we had planned 'weather permitting' to spend Friday Night at Tarn Cave, and then to traverse in front of the knuckles and spend Saturday night at Goat or Thamathu cave. Unfortunately we set out from Bushmans Nek a bit late (work), after paying for our permits and being told that no one had booked Tarn Cave for the weekend.
We got hit by a big electric storm while climbing the ridge up toward the 'Tarn Plateau' and ended up having to spend the night in a tiny overhang, as the storm never abated. These things happen, though it wasn't fun trying to sleep fully clothed with no bag (would have got soaked and wrecked) and with my face pressed into baboon crap Needless to say, I never slept at all, and so we were really stoked to get to Tarn Cave 'palace' on Saturday morning! We decided to abort the knuckles traverse and stay in Tarn cave, as per what we had written in the register (the weather having affected our plans). We were chilled when you arrived (after all the cave sleeps 12) and we were more than happy to share.
As you say, the ladies which arrived were another story! We were rudely awoken as we were drifting off to an afternoon sleep, with a barrage of questions and chattering complaints about us being there. They really started off with a shocking attitude. Eventually we made the call to move out and look for Irish cave (which we never found due to thick mist - another story!), even though we were fully entitled to be where we were. The only reason we left, was to get some solitude, and not have to spend the night shoulder to shoulder with the ladies, as they were adamant on sharing our sleeping space.
After a while, I realized that they were actually decent ladies and they seemed a little embarrassed by the way things started off. The next day they redeemed themselves when we bumped into them and they showed us Irish Cave (which we hadn't seen before).
The leader was obviously upset initially, when she saw 2 other parties in the cave, though I fully agree with you Bigsnake and others - no one owns the berg nor is entitled to any particular place in a cave. We had all paid for permits and after that it was a case of first come first serve. It turns out that the ladies leader was from MCSA and it was a club outing. I myself am a member of MCSA, but only saw the hike on the calendar when I returned.
Everyone just needs to approach one another with a friendly attitude in the berg and everything will be cool!
We had a great hike despite the incident
In principle I believe the booking system must be respected for the caves where it is applicable, and ignorance is not a great excuse to have to live with. Presumption that the party who has booked the cave will be fine with you just showing up anyway is pretty rude and short-sighted - you can really mess up someone elses plans that way.
On the other hand, there isn't really anything wrong with a polite, respectful and non-pressured request to share the cave, especially where hiking parties meet each other on the trail and get friendly and chatty. In an ideal world, friendliness and camaraderie in the mountains should supersede the desire for solitude. Isn't it nice when you are cordially invited to share a cave that you didn't book? On the other hand, in an ideal world this is never taken for granted either.
If the weather is really bad or miserable, and if the other group is having difficulties like being tired, injured or running late, then the group who has booked the cave should extend an invite into cave.
I tend to want privacy and solitude in the mountains too, but have shared caves with others on numerous occasions. Several times it has been in situations where I booked the cave and either invited the other group in, or they requested it, or they were already in the cave when my group got there. Most times it turned out to be very pleasant, with lots of chatting and laughing with the other group. If you are going to share a cave, be pleasant, interactive, friendly and helpful - but give space where you sense it is wanted, or engage the interaction where it happens naturally. If you tend to be a noisy group, you will have to be be prepared to tone it down for that night.
Some escarpment caves can be booked, but the general assumption is that they are up for grabs, so be prepared for that. There tend to be caves where this kind of thing readily happens, Tarn Cave , Zulu Cave, Bell Cave and Twins Cave seem to have this quite often (I'm not referring to the incident mentioned in this thread).
For caves that cannot be booked, firstly always have a contingency plan if you get there and the cave is occupied. Look in the register for clues about where other parties are headed. Be readily prepared to share the cave, even if you arrived first. Be considerate and make acceptable compromises - first come, first served on the best sleeping area, but don't dominate a large sleeping area if you are a small group, if the other group has to cram into a really awful part of the cave as a result.
And remember, if your feathers get ruffled over this, even if its justified, a controlled response goes a long way in making things right, especially in a world made small by the internet!
Official KZN Wildlife rules as a PS:
In order to minimize the impact of overnight visitors in wilderness areas, the following strategy is applied:
- no party may exceed 12 persons
- caves are booked only by one group at a time
- Cave bookings are controlled locally so that any adverse impact on the environment by visitor numbers can be dealt with immediately
CAVES AVAILABLE IN THE UKHAHLAMBA DRAKENSBERG PARK:
Private Bag X1,
Telephone: (036) 488 1880
Fax: (036) 488 1677
Twins Cave Maximum 12
Xeni Cave Maximum 12
Shermans Cave Maximum 10
Outerhorn Cave Maximum 10
Ribbon Falls Cave Maximum 6
Barker's Chalet Maximum 5
Bell Cave Maximum 5
Schoongesicht Cave Maximum 8
Ndumeni Cave (i) Maximum 4
Ndumeni Cave (ii) Maximum 4
Private Bag X2,
Telephone/fax: (036) 468 1103
Hospitaalspruit Cave Maximum 10
Anton's Cave Maximum 12
Nkosasana Cave Maximum 10 (winter)
Maximum 4 (summer)
Cowl Cave Maximum 6
Stable Cave Maximum 12
Wonder Valley Cave Maximum 12
Zulu Cave Maximum 12
Private Bag X7010
, Estcourt 3310
Telephone/fax (036) 431 7848
Lower Injisuthi Cave Maximum 8
Grindstone Cave Maximum 12
Marble Baths Cave Maximum 8
Kaula Cave Maximum 12
Small Cave Maximum 4
Bridge Cave Maximum 6
Sicocosebhaca Cave Maximum 12
Private Bag X7055
, Estcourt 3310
Telephone: (036) 353 3718
Fax: (036) 353 3775
Spare Rib Cave Maximum 12
PO Box 51,
Telephone/fax (033) 263 7240
Aasvoëlkrantz Cave Maximum 8
Caracal Cave Maximum 8
PO Box 105,
3280 Telephone/fax: (033) 263 6444
Sinclairs Cave Maximum 6
McKenzies Cave Maximum 12
Cypress Cave Maximum 6
PO Box 14,
Telephone/fax: (033) 702 0540
Ash Cave Maximum 4
Yellowwood Cave Maximum 6
PO Box 53,
6 telephone: (033) 702 0712
Mlahlangubo Cave Maximum 12
Bird's Nest Cave Maximum 8
PO Box 168,
Telephone/fax: (033) 702 0831
Gorge Cave Maximum 2
Pholela Cave Maximum 12
Spectacle Cave Maximum 10
Gxalingenwa Cave Maximum 12
Nutcracker Cave Maximum 6
Lakes Cave Maximum 12
Weaver Cave Maximum 10
Chameleon Cave Maximum 10
Venice Cave(2 caves of 4 each) Maximum 8
PO Box 378,
Telephone: (033) 701 1823
Fax: (033) 701 1822
Wilsons Cave Maximum 12
Bushmans Cave Maximum 12
Tomatu Cave Maximum 12
Fun Cave Maximum 12
Verkyker Cave Maximum 12
Engagement Cave Maximum 2
Pillar Cave Maximum 12
Sleeping Beauty Cave Maximum 12
Mashai Cave Maximum 2
Goats Cave Maximum 12
Lammergeyer Cave Maximum 12
Tarn Cave Maximum 12
Halfway Cave Maximum 4
Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Definitely, I saw that too after I posted it. Anton's Cave should not be on this list either since its a rock art site, and it would be interesting to ask for directions to Outer Horn Cave. I will pass this on their webmaster.
Viking wrote: There seems to be something amiss with the Injasuthi list. Aren't some of those caves in Vergelegen?
Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.