Drakensberg Caves & Huts Database

Tarn Cave


Bushman\\\'s Nek Wilderness Area

There is no proper path up to this cave, but careful navigation from the Ngwangwane River should put you in the correct valley, after which you can make your way up the hillside towards the ridge which borders on the Sehlabathebe National Park in Lesotho.  The cave lies in this sandstone ridge above which are some very distinctive tarns which can provide some navigational assistance in poor weather if you cannot find the cave from below.  Tarn Cave can also be approached from Bushman's Nek Pass, although much of this route is along highly eroded donkey paths.  The cave provides a convenient stop-over for more adventurous hikers wanting to climb the Devil's Knuckles or enter Lesotho via one the the Knuckles passes.  These passes are within easy reach of the cave, and while it is not necessary to climb them to enter Lesotho - there being far easier alternatives in this part of the berg - they provide a direct route to the top of the Devil's Knuckles from which one can obtain spectacular views across the Underberg area.

Co-ordinates (WGS84 / dd mm.mmm):

S29 51.500 E29 08.255 at 2414 metres


Accommodation: 12

Tarn Cave is a substantial cave with a very good overhang.  The lower end contains two main sleeping areas.  It can accommodate 12 people with ease, provided some are prepared to forego the comfort of the stone walls that circle the main sleeping areas.


The sleeping areas are level and smooth.


In summer the substantial drips inside the cave can provide all your water requirements, and in winter water may be collected from the tarns although this should preferably be filtered and purified if it is to be used for drinking or cooking.


There are two large tarns on the plateau above the cave.  The nearer one is full of weeds and you will definitely have frogs and tadpoles for company in summer! The other tarn is a magnificent one with a gravel floor and some bedrock on which to lie and soak up the sun.  These tarns both contain a very rare species of water flower, so please take care not to damage them!


This is a dry, relatively sheltered cave in winter, but it may be a bit windy at times.  During a summer storm the substantial drips can turn into a veritable torrent, flooding the top sleeping areas!


The cave is north-facing and provides a spectacular view of the Devil's Knuckles and the escarpment towards Tomathu Peak.  The plateau immediately above the cave is very pretty, especially in summer when it is dotted with flowers.  Numerous small rock formations transform the plateau into a fantasy playground.


+27 (033) 7011823


Last updated: 2009-05-21 11:02:53 | Report Listing Report Listing
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