Rwanqa Cave

12 Sep 2021 00:57 - 12 Sep 2021 07:07 #77130 by intrepid
Rwanqa Cave was created by intrepid
Every now and then I get a query about Rwanqa Cave which probably has to do with the fact that I uploaded a picture of it in the galleries, but there is no write-up on the forum. So here goes!

It's on the map, more or less on the escarpment, and there are no other useful caves in the immediate area (Fang's Cave being about 2.5km away) - therefore, any avid Berg hiker and map-muser is going to consider using it at some point. But should it be used?

I am going to base my assessment on what I believe to be Rwanqa Cave. I have hiked Rwanqa Pass and visited this cave on two occasions. Both times the weather was good with perfect visibility, offering good opportunity to survey the area and look for caves. The cave I will be describing appears to be located more or less where one would expect it to be from studying the maps. The only disparity with the modern Geomaps is that this cave, though large, probably only sleeps 3-4 people, in contrast to the capacity of >12 as those maps show. This casts a small bit of doubt that the cave in question is "the" Rwanqa Cave. Indeed the Berg has several examples of confusion around multiple caves in a small area, or cases where exact locations of certain caves are elusive. So if someone out there knows of another cave which is clearly a better candidate to be "the cave", please speak up and let us know!

The cave is located roughly 250m from the top of Rwanqa Pass, on the true right, facing North-West. The two GPS readings I have taken of it are:
S28 52.565 E28 57.565 (2741m)
S28 52.578 E28 57.601 (2923m) - WGS84
According to the contour lines of its location, it's more accurate altitude is about 2890m.

The cave is a very obvious find from the Rwanqa Pass route.

The cave is large and tunnel-like and provides immediate appeal when it comes into view. However, the first drawback is that you have to climb up into it. This short scramble is not exactly easy, but I believe it is doable for most individuals determined to use the cave.

The second drawback becomes apparent when you complete the scramble...much of the floor is sloped and strewn with rocks and boulders - not exactly what you would expect if you were hoping  for a >12 person cave.

Sleeping capacity
There is one sleeping area right at the back of the cave for 1-2 people, and a separate one against the wall on the right side (looking in) again sleeping 1-2 people. They are not great, but good enough. Slingsby's map indicates a sleeping capacity of 4 for this cave, which agrees with these observations.

While I have not slept in the cave myself, nor have I been there in bad weather, it is a probably reasonable assumption that the cave will provide good, perhaps even great shelter from the elements, certainly from wind. I have no information on how damp or drippy it gets in the rainy season. Some of the boulders in the cave have a green coating, but I have not noted any obvious patches that might get muddy, nor do I recall any black streaks on the walls.

There is no water close to the cave, at least not outside of the rainy season. It has to be collected from the escarpment, or from further down the pass.

The views from inside the cave are only of the buttresses on the other side of the broad grassy gully of Rwanqa Pass. From outside the cave there are nice views of the valleys below across to Mponjwane and the Mnweni Needles.

In conclusion, while the cave may not be the best choice for escarpment traverses, it may be a good option for small parties doing Rwanqa Pass, especially on a descent where water can be carried down towards the cave.

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

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Last edit: 12 Sep 2021 07:07 by intrepid.

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