The expedition began with a descent into the opening of the cave, a relatively gentle descent into a hole surrounded by a grove. Before long the first tight space was encountered: a narrow tunnel that required crawling on elbows. After conquering the first tight squeeze, confidence mounted and the rest of the trip flowed with comfortable ease and minimal fear.

With a very low ceiling, an uneven floor and stalactites protruding from the cave ceiling, protective helmets were an absolute necessity to avoid injury. However, at some points helmets, jackets and even belts had to be removed in order to fit through the extremely small spaces.

Emerging at the exit of the cave after almost four hours of enjoyable yet demanding physical activity came as a relief, as the stale dusty air of the cave was replaced with the fresh air above ground.

According to Theron, the JCP module requires assisting a community in raising awareness surrounding the community and the challenges that it faces. When asked why he had chosen this particular approach to the module, he said that he wanted to expose students to the caving community and give them the opportunity to experience something that they would not have previously had the opportunity to experience. He added that, from a community perspective, he hoped that the trip raised awareness among the students as to what is available to those interested in caving, as well as created awareness of the natural heritage available in South Africa. According to Dr Jordaan, many students conduct an awareness campaign as part of their JCP projects.

The consensus reached within the beginner group gathered by Theron was that caving is an extremely fun activity that they would choose to participate in again.

 

Photo: Christo Saayman

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