Namibia is generally known as an arid country, with soft desert sand and harsh waterless landscapes stretching from Atlantic Ocean to every border. However, the country holds so much more. One of the treasures Namibia holds that is often forgotten is the Dragon’s Breath Cave.
For those few who may not know about it, Dragon’s Breath was discovered in 1986, about 46km north of Grootfontein, by the South African Speleological Association. Along the Kalahari Desert there is a cavern, which slants slightly down for almost 5 metres, ending at a small choke.
From here there is a vertical drop of almost 7 metres, which comes to a sudden halt onto a ledge, leading to another drop of 12 metres and a further descend of 36.5 metres, ending with a massive underground lake. In fact it is so massively large, that is has been named the largest underground non sub-glacial lake in the world.On top of that the lake is so deep that divers have yet to reach its floor, only managing to go down as far as 131 metres.
So the first thing that comes to mind is, ‘Why call it Dragon’s Breath?’ It’s easy enough to explain. Apparently when the cave was discovered, the humid air that rose from the cave’s opening, reminded the explorers of the warm breath of a dragon. And the magical mystery inspired by the name can be pulled through to the creatures that can be found within.
Thanks to a unique combination of zero-sunlight conditions, little wave-action to kick up sediment and the stable temperatures of the cavern, it has allowed for the world’s rarest and most isolated species to find a home… the Golden Cave Catfish, or Clariascavernicola. This unique species is endangered and may have a population of as little as 200 catfish.
Access to the interior of the cave is limited, and requires climbing ropes, narrow tunnels and ledges, and of course the sudden drop to the water surface. The surface area of the lake spans 2 hectares. Because of the difficulty associated with accessing the cave, much of its secrets are still hidden from the modern world.
If you have visited Dragon’s Breath or have any other information about the cave, we invite you to share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment section below.
Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.