I booked tour ” C”? through the hostel which consisted of transport to the Cango Caves and an ostrich show farm, leaving me with a mountain bike ride of 12 kilometers back to town, along the way passing a wilderness park where I would get up close and personal with a few cheetahs.
Lonely Planet describes the caves as commercialized, and I saw what they meant once the tour began. We were not given headlamps or helmets, and all the pathways were smoothed by concrete and lit by ankle-level lights. Still, me and my four companions (2 Irish lasses and 2 Dutch girls), hoped for a little extra excitement by choosing the longer ” adventure”? tour.
As we got deeper into the caves, the spaces started to narrow. The most difficult maneuvers were so tight, we had left our cameras behind. The Devil’s Chimney was a 3.6 meter upward crawl in a chimney-like feature with an average diameter of 90 centimeters. In other words, it was damn tight. All the ladies went first, and I sighed in relief each time our guide-in-training, Shane, confirmed another got through OK. It was the tightest and longest space I’d navigated in my sparse experience as a spelunker. I slithered on my stomach at a quick pace, hoping the speed would ensure I did not get stuck. The surface against my stomach was smooth, so I didn’t hit any snags.
Once through, the four of us were in a small chamber, with the only exit being the Letterbox, a 5 meter crawl with a 60 centimeter roof to floor clearance. Again, I was on my stomach hoping not to get stuck. The girls all made it through first, and I made haste in catching up to them all. It was a short-lived adventure, yet it did register a bit on the adrenaline meter for those few seconds you are encased in tons of rock!