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Diving inland in South Africa/Wondergat

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The dive site Wondergat is an inland fresh water sinkhole and cavern near Mafikeng in the North West Province of South Africa. The altitude is approximately 1,450m

Understand[edit]

Position[edit]

  • Approximately 60km from Lichtenburg and 30km from Mafikeng



This site is not in a Marine Protected Area. A permit is not required.


Name[edit]

The name "Wondergat" is Afrikaans for Amazing hole.

Depth[edit]

Maximum depth is about 58m.

Visibility[edit]

About 6m above 20m, and about 15m below 20m. Visibility of over 30m has been known in the cave.

Topography[edit]

Wondergat is a collapsed cavern filled with water. The hole is about 75 x 100m at the surface and the sides are near vertical to the bottom at about 36m. There are caverns extending from the main shaft to the north and south at the bottom. The bottom of these caverns slopes downward away from the main shaft. There is an overhang to the north about half wat up, and a narrow cave on the south wall, quite shallow, known as Leopards cave.

Geology: Dolomite sinkhole.


Conditions[edit]

Water temperature will be between 14 and 21°C


This is a summer rainfall region. Temperatures vary from 35’C in the summer to as low as -4’C at night in the winter.

Visibility is often better during winter because there are fewer divers kicking up a mess, and less rain runoff bringing in silt

Facilities[edit]

  • Two permanent shotlines with grids at the bottom
  • Large capacity Air (to 300 bar) and Nitrox filling station on site.
  • Oxygen cleaning of cylinders.
  • Trimix is available on request and by prior arrangement.
  • Rental of BCs, DVs and cylinders.
  • Accommodation at Wondergat is at campsites with braai areas, and includes ablution facilities with hot and cold water.
  • Electricity is available to campsites.
  • There is a canteen, which stocks most of the basics for those who have forgotten something at home. Take-away meals can be arranged in advance.
  • Emergency oxygen provision is on site if needed
  • All South African cellular networks cover the dive site
  • The nearest medical facility is the hospital at Mafikeng, 30km away and Lightenburg Provincial hospital, 60km away.


Wondergat manager: Willie Halgrijn: 082 484 7887 (2012)



Get in[edit]

This is a shore entry site. Access is by 35 irregular steps. The walk down the steps fully kitted up requires good balance, and the return after the dive can be strenuous.

Public access. An entry fee is payable. Adequate parking is provided and included in the entry fee.

  • From Johannesburg and other places to the south and east:
Take the R503 from Johannesburg to Lichtenburg. About 47km beyond Lichtenburg turn right at the sign to Buhrmansdrift. There is a shop on the left side before entering Rooigrond. Drive for about 7km then turn right at the turnoff to Molopo-oog. Drive another 7km then turn right at the sign TDA Wondergat.
  • From Pretoria and other places to the north and west:
Take the R49 from Zeerust towards Mafikeng. About 15km before Mafikeng, turn left at the sign for Rooigrond (there are big grain silos on the right hand side). Drive about 7km then turn left at the second sign for Molopo-oog. Drive another 7km then turn right at the sign TDA Wondergat.


Wondergat may occasionally be closed to visitors for maintenance. Phone before planning the trip to ensure it will be open when you wish to visit.

See[edit][add listing]

Aquatic life[edit]

The Banded Tilapia (Tilapia sparrmanii) is endemic to Wondergat. Other fish include the Sharptooth Catfish (Clarias garipinus), Southern Moutbrooder (Pseudocrenilabrus philander) There are also fresh water shrimps and crabs.



Features[edit]

  • The south and north caverns
  • The Leopard's cave
  • A bell chamber at the bottom
  • The memorial stones and task force noticeboard at the mouth to the south cavern


Photography[edit]

Suggested Routes[edit]

Suggested routes include:

  1. Cavern certified divers can dive from the south grid to the back of the cave
  2. From the north grid to south grid or vice versa along the guide ropes.
  3. From either of the grids to the Bell.
  4. From the south grid to the Memorial stones and the Taskforce noticeboard.


Stay safe[edit]

Hazards[edit]

Skills[edit]

Equipment[edit]

Dry suits or semi dry suits are recommend for the winter months.


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