Fertility Caves in Dihlabeng Platteland, Vrystaat
The Fertility caves are situated approximately 18 km outside the town of Clarens in the Free State, South Africa.
Fertility Caves, also known as Motoulong (Sesotho) or Saltpeterkrans (Afrikaans) are some of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere with spectacular rock formations. They are found nestled in a narrow river valley and are a place where traditional African Religion meets modern day religion. On entering the Caves you will find both Sangomas and visiting followers of the apostolic faith performing ceremonies.
Inhabitants of these Caves, approximately 25 residents currently, are traditional herbalists and healers, known as Sangomas. They live in traditional huts inside the Caves and they have come here to learn from their ancestors. A short hike leads to the entrance of the Cave where you must receive permission from the Sangoma to enter, a small offering is expected for his blessing and serves as an entrance fee. The Sangomas hold traditional ceremonies, rituals and sacrifices here, one in particular for young women who undergo initiation ceremonies when getting married to boost their fertility levels. Childless couples also come here for healing. The Caves are known as a scared place and have been used for over 800 years as a meeting place for spiritual gatherings.
It is advisable to visit the Caves on a guided tour out of respect for the Sangomas, their ancestors and others who live there. Women are also advised to wear long skirts and to cover up in some way in order to enter.
As far as South African cultural experiences go, there are none as authentic or enlightening as a visit to the Sangomas on their own sacred tribal grounds. The Caves are huge and majestic and a must visit while in Clarens.
Things to do and see
- San people’s burial area
- Sacred Spring
- Prayer areas
- Traditional Sangoma Hut Homes
- Fountain of Life
No set admission fee, but an offering to the Sangoma to enter is expected. Please confirm with your guide.
Open daily during daylight hours
Rainfall occurs mainly in the mid-summer months, with December and January seeing the highest levels. Winter nights can drop below freezing.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 11˚C and 27˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between -2˚C and 16˚C.
There are domestic and/or international flights into the Johannesburg, Durban or Bloemfontein Airports on a daily basis and car rental companies are available for easy access to Clarens. All three cities are approximately a three to four hour drive away.
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