Boesmansgat.. or Bushman’s Hole..

This hole is believed to be the third-deepest submerged freshwater cave (or sinkhole) in the world, approximately 270 meters (886 feet) deep. It is located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.

Boesmansgat was believed to be first explored by amateur diver Mike Rathbourne in 1977.

On November 24, 2004, Verna van Schaik set the existing Guinness Woman’s World Record for the deepest dive with a dive to 221 meters (725ft). What some people won’t do for fun.

Of course as per all dangerous sports, the sport of cave diving has it’s toll and here is the roll of honour..

Eben Leyden died in 1993 after blacking out at 200 feet.

In 1994, while helping a team prepare for a dive, Deon Dreyer died.

On January 8, 2005, famed deep cave diver Dave Shaw died while recovering Dreyer’s remains from a depth of over 800 feet (about 245 meters). Shaw, using a re-breather apparatus and suffering from nitrogen narcosis while attempting to place the remains in a body bag, became entangled in his own lines and blacked out. Later, as the recovery team was removing equipment, both bodies floated to the surface, apparently pulled to a depth where the gasses in Shaw’s body expanded and gave it buoyancy.

HomepageSlideshow_RaisingtheDead_021212courtesy of Outside Magazine with their article of “Raising the Dead” click to read the article.

Facts I found while researching these deaths, it takes them only 15 odd minutes to get down to these vast depths, but apparently up to 13 hours to ascend, due to the fear of the bends. Madness if you ask me..





But how did this hole in the middle of the Kalahari develop? Who knows, was it an air bubble that came to the surface when the area was volcanically forming? Was it a lime stone deposit or pipe that has eroded with time? An area of cracking in the surface?



The hole is located on a farm, no sign posts to it, or advertising, but word of mouth has you exploring and asking the farmers permission to go to it. A slight rise in an otherwise flat terrain brings you to the site.. a deep hole, approx. 20 metres down and a precarious descent, one can spy the water surface, a green slush. But all divers reports are of a beautiful crystal clear water below the surface.

The rock formations are fascinating and here are but a few of those I took..








92 thoughts on “Boesmansgat.. or Bushman’s Hole..

  1. Boesmansgat was formed as the rocks are soluble dolomite and so was dissolved by the ground water up to the point where it caved in when the weight of the top rocks became too heavy, .

  2. Amazing! I would never have the courage to dive into something like that! I love the pictures you took of the area though. It would be a fun and very interesting place to visit. So many beautiful creations on this earth of ours and I hope to see many of them at least in the USA like the Grand Canyon.

    • Now that I would love to see myself… my son saw it when he visited the USA, he says it is too difficult to describe what he saw… it is a lovely place to see in the middle of know where…

    • Thanks Jewels.. i was thinking of doing another about the cave and rescue of the bodies, but it has already been done and funny there is a link there to my blog…

  3. I googled it too….first page, as well. You did a great job with it, Bulldog!! People are crazy!! I always wonder how much they truly value their lives and those around them that love them to take such risks. It seems so very foolish to me. But, I am a party pooper, I guess.

  4. This is fascinating, and tragic. Excellent photos and research. Deep diving in a hole notorious for its fatal accidents is not my cup of tea. Most of my adventures occur in my own mind, and that seems to satisfy, but I feel terrible for those who lost their lives, especially the one who was just attempting a good deed, trying to recover the other diver’s body.

  5. Fascinating! My theory is that all this area was under water aeons ago. I have seen similar limestone deposits in Northern Ontario, Canada where we collected small fossils of ancient creatures in the limestone. This old Earth has seen some amazing changes. Thanks for sharing this. God bless those who go where others fear to tread!

    • This was on a trip between two golf courses… couldn’t resist the turning in after seeing the caves, and being told about this hole…lol

  6. You wouldn’t get me standing anywhere near the edge of that cliff, never mind diving off. I’ll forgo the adrenalin rush rather than risk a heart attack.

  7. Sinkholes are really fascinating. We came across many of them when we visited some of the archeological ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. I do not understand the need to explore them at the depths these divers do. Guess I am just not as adventurous as some (or crazy). Great photos and information Bulldog. 🙂

  8. I don’t think I’d be diving into that hole. I’d never heard of this before, Bulldog – thanks so much for posting the pics and the history. Very interesting! (I love learning about these unusual places for my stories) 😉

  9. Fascinating and great photos!
    That guy is standing way too close to the edge for me. I get those butterflies of fear in my stomach just looking at the photo

  10. WOW! I’ve always been fascinated by things like this…but the cave diving is terrifying to me! Here in Florida we have to worry about sinkholes…but nothing on the magnitude of something like this!

  11. I remember reading the fascinating and tragic account of the divers and what happened to the one that went in to recover the body of the earlier diver. So, this is where it happened. Wow. Thank you for this interesting post, bulldog.


  12. This is fascinating. i agree with you, it is madness to go diving in caves. I was snorkeling recently and that’s thrilling. Diving beyond 20 meters in a cave is not my cup of tea.

  13. I am in awe! Thanks so much for circling the 6-foot man–it really does help give a sense of the enormity of this space. I was also fascinated with the fact that descending isn’t the problem, but the ascension taking so long! I had no idea the ratio was so uneven! Everything about this cave is dramatic and I’m so impressed. The more you share about South Africa the greater my understanding of it’s incredible richness. I suppose the quality of these natural phenomena inspire the adventure-seekers, but cave diving sounds insane to me! Exhilarating perhaps, but also crazy! 🙂

    • Thank you.. I think the attraction of being the first is what drives people to get to the bottom of the hole.. much like Everest there must be a bragging right that comes with it.. for me I want no such right..
      Our country has so much to offer, and probably as yet is still needing a lot of discovery, so many places to see and so many places to visit.. I feel I might just run out of time before I see all I want to here in my own country..

  14. Completely fascinating! There seem to be numerous caves on private land where the owners simply don’t want them known about. I came across a few in my cave exploration days, and was allowed to explore them on condition I kept a buttoned lip.

    • Glad you agree.. somehow my impression of you is not one who would go packing a huge engine on your back and diving into a deep hole… your intellectual level tells me that…

  15. Wow, fascinating history behind your amazing photography, Bulldog. Almost like being there my friend. I’d love to actually be there, now that I think on it. Thank you, a excellent share!

  16. It is madness to me as well. It’s amazing, though, how when someone has a passion for something, they will commit madness! I love the ‘exploratory’ nature us humans have.

  17. Oh goodness – this sounds very scary — your photos are amazing however. How on earth did you manage to capture them? Brilliant photograph Bulldog!
    With Love ~ RL

  18. Very interesting. I’m a certified scuba diver but I don’t think I would ever attempt to dive there. :-). When I was watching the series on Africa, in one episode they went into a very deep freshwater lake. I’m not sure if it’s the same one you’re describing. There were a lot of blind catfish in the lake.

    • I wouldn’t know if it was this one.. I didn’t know this existed till we came upon it… although through the news and papers I do remember reading of the deaths… I like to keep my head above water.. a good swimmer but snorkeling is good enough for me…

  19. I dive … but never in my foot or my goggles will I go down in that hole, not that brave – what a interesting place and great post. What would we do if we fell in ???? I would stay very fare of the edge … that for sure.
    Never heard about before – some people are just mad and wired = extreme sport, better on the golf course.or ????

  20. It would make more sense (and money) to send down one of those submersible bathyspheres to find out what it’s like on the bottom rather than risk one’s life. Amazing post, Rob.

    • Thank you Anneli.. I agree, but then one has to wonder why people climb Everest and do things of this nature.. do you think its an adrenaline rush or shear madness… I go with the madness…

    • Thank you… why anyone would want to do it I don’t know… but for such a hole to form in the middle of nowhere is what fascinates me…

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