Inside Pinnacle Point Cave PP13B. Picture: Gerry Cupido
Inside Pinnacle Point Cave PP13B. Picture: Gerry Cupido

200 steps down and 200 steps up: The journey to Pinnacle Point Cave PP13B

By Gerry Cupido Time of article published Apr 13, 2021

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Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.”

While taking 200 steps down to a cave I’ve never seen or even heard of, I truly had no idea where I was going. But by the time I made my way back up those same 200 steps, I knew a bit more about where I’m from – not just as a person but as part of the human race.

A visit to the Pinnacle Point caves in Mossel Bay is one of the many cave visits along the coastal tour of the Cradle of Human Culture.

Each cave visit tells a different story and points to a different time in human history.

Setting foot in Cave PP13B at Pinnacle Point was undoubtedly one of the most mind-blowing experiences I’ve ever had.

The journey to the cave will take your breath away – even for the fittest!

The starting point. Picture: Gerry Cupido

The only way to access the cave is via a series of steep wooden stairways, Approximately 200 stairs in each direction.

200 steps down. Picture: Gerry Cupido

Once you’re on the path you soon forget about how taxing it is as your attention is drawn to the spectacular view of the ocean and rugged shoreline. The contrast between the warm ochre shades of the land and cool blues of the ocean is a sight to behold.

It’s only when you get to the final few steps ascending to the mouth of the cave that you realise you’ve completed the trip that seemed so daunting when you took that first step down.

Almost there. Picture: Gerry Cupido

Once you’re inside the cave, the real journey begins.

The view from inside the cave. Picture: Gerry Cupido

Through the inspiring words and storytelling manner in which our guide, archaeologist Dr Peter Nilssen, passionately shared his knowledge of the cave and its archaeological importance, I was transported 160 000 years back in time.

Dr Peter Nilssen. Picture: Gerry Cupido

During the cave exploration early evidence of art and symbolic behaviour, stone tool heat treatment, microlithic technology (sharpened stones for arrows) and the first systematic use of seafood in the human diet was discovered.

Nilssen demonstrated how man was able to break rocks into different shapes for different uses. We got to touch and “sample” the shades of ochre that were once used for art.

Different shapes of stone found in the cave. Picture: Gerry Cupido

His words painted the image of a family living inside the cave, where they would gather for meals around a fire and where the bones left over from their meals were dumped.

Knowing that I was standing in a space where the human species once settled thousands of years ago left me dumbfounded and excited at the same time.

My smile says it all!

Unfortunately we eventually had to leave the cave and make our way back to where the journey began.

Ah yes. The 200 steps back up. I had forgotten about those!

With Nilssen’s words still ringing in my mind, I kept my head down and took it one step at a time, occasionally taking a break to catch my breath and once again take in the spectacular views and thinking, “Wow! Our country is beautiful!”

I started the trip not knowing where I was going or what to expect, but by the time I got back I knew so much more about where we as a civilization have been.

As I strolled back to our transport I was saddened thinking about where we as a society are right now. We’ve evolved in so many ways yet regressed at the same time.

For more information on how to access and explore the Pinnacle Point Caves and the the tours along the Cradle of Human Culture visit:

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