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, my four companions (two Irish lasses and two Dutch girls) and I 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 that 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 to catch 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!