I finally got over my phobia for pitch dark places with a labyrinth of passages and low oxygen levels. Shaking off that phobia saw me and my claustrophobic sister walk into East-Africa’s largest limestone cave system luckily found in my hometown, Tanga- Amboni caves. Situated about 8km off Tanga-Mombasa road which is now a smooth ride down following the renovations. Our patient and encouraging guide, Mwinyi Boko walked us through a maze of passages (avoiding the squeezes) into caverns sharing myths about the caves and enlightening us on the natural carving attractions within. In this post I share some pictures of the Amboni caves and caving terminologies.
There are about 10 caves at Amboni but only two are used for tours. This is the entrance to the largest of the two. Note the map of Africa?
At this point, cavers (CAVER. n. A person who goes caving.) may sit with the tour guide for briefing and/or refreshments before or after the tour.
Rocks project both from the roof and the ground of the cave. During rainy season water is seen dripping on the walls; there are no streams, springs or lakes within the cave.
A labyrinth of passages: some are walk-throughs, some are squeezes and some are like rifts.
Heard of Osalo Otango? His story is very common during visits to the caves or if you get time to talk to the people of Kiomoni village near by the caves. Read Chaiba Kombo’s narration – UNTOLD STORIES: Amboni caves and the story of the African hero.
There are several attractions within the cave that have been associated to various monuments, animals and historical events. One of them is this semicircular wall niche that is likened to the mihrab; there is even speculation regarding the line markings on the wall being Quranic inscriptions. I couldn’t make out any words in particular but the guide was convinced that he could read ‘Bismillah’. I still wonder whether the wall niche is actually facing the qiblah!
As you go deep the caves become pitch dark, there are chambers with windows that let light and air through.
Roots run deep: some roots traverse the caves, they are strong enough to support a person’s weight allowing one to climb up the walls.
There are several blocks within the caves some forming false stair cases and convenient sits, tables or beds.
A large colony of bats reside in the caves: you’ll hear the high pitched sounds and the sounds of their butting wings as you get into the caves. As you go deeper into the caves the floor is filled with their excrement making the air somewhat stuffy.
GUANO. n. A large accumulation of bat excrement which may also consist partly of decomposing animal skeletal material and small fragments of rock particles. To a lesser extent in caves it may consist of bird droppings.
Arachnophobic? Beware of creepy crawlers.
These are just some of the pictures… If we showed you all that there is, there would be nothing left to fascinate you when you decide to go spelunking or potholing (both words synonymous to “CAVING. (1) v. The physical act of entering and exploring a cave or caves. (2) n. The sport of exploring caves and other aspects.”)
Have you been to Amboni caves?
All caving terms definition have been sourced from- GLOSSARY OF CAVING TERMS by Garry K Smith