Nelson Bay Cave, Plettenberg Bay

Nelson Bay Cave also known as Wagenaar's Cave is a Stone Age archaeological site located on the Robberg Peninsula and facing Nelson's Bay near Plettenberg Bay in South Africa, and showing evidence of human occupation as far back as 125,000 years ago.The south-facing cave, which is rectangular in shape and roughly wide by deep, is in quartz-sandstone and quartzites while its mouth is 19–21 metres above mean sea level. In the same area are two other Stone Age caves, Hoffman’s/Robberg Cave and Matjes River rock shelter which lies about 14 kilometres north at Keurboomstrand. Robberg shows notches, caves and other erosional features caused mainly by wave-cutting at various times in its past, but also due to lithological variation, bedding and characteristics of the bedrock. The cave developed in a breccia often found at the contact between Silurian Table Mountain Series quartzite and Cretaceous Uitenhage Series quartzitic sandstone. Excavations were carried out in 1964-5 by Ray R. Inskeep and again in 1970-1 by Inskeep and Richard G. Klein. The geology and geomorphology of Robberg were well documented by John Rogers in 1966.The cave has yielded rich archaeological material covering its intermittent Middle and Later Stone Age occupation dating from a few hundred to more than 125,000 BP. The cave was abandoned between 40,000 to 20,000 BP during the last Ice Age when the sea level here dropped some 130 metres, the coastline moving about 100 km seaward. Lesotho and the South African interior were apparently unoccupied from ~15,000 BP until ~11,500 BP. From 22,000 to 14,000 BP extensive grasslands covered the coastal plateau in the Plettenberg Bay area with no closed evergreen climax forest. Animals that roamed this grassland included giant buffalo, an equine close to the quagga, springbok and alcelaphine antelopes: blesbok/bontebok, wildebeest, hartebeest and a giant alcelaphine. Bones from all these herbivores have been recorded in the cave's middens.
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  • April 22, 2016
    This prehistoric monument is accessed via a small path about half way between the entrance to the Robberg nature reserve and the car park. It is a steep walk down the cliff to the cave at sea level. T...  more »

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Where to stay in Plettenberg Bay

You won't have trouble finding a place to stay in Plettenburg Bay, as the popular beachfront town boasts an impressive selection of accommodation options. The scenic coastline is lined with lodgings, from trendy boutique hotels, to guesthouses and bed and breakfasts. Farther inland, you'll find a number of budget-friendly hostels, lodges, and campsites. Private rental properties abound in Plettenburg Bay and range from chalets and bungalows, to stately villas.
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