Wynberg Caves Table Mountain
At 21h03 on Sunday the 2nd of June 2019 the Peninsula Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR) was activated after a caller reported that three members of their caving party were overdue. They had been exploring a cave that forms part of the Wynberg Caves network on Table Mountain.
Two Metro Medical Rescue Technicians responded to the area west of the Alexandra reservoir in an EMS 4×4 vehicle. They drove up the Bridal Path management road from Constantia Nek to meet the caller. After gathering more information it was learnt that the party consisted of six experienced and registered cavers. When they surfaced at about 18h00 just before sunset, they realised that they had unfortunately left some of their equipment behind. After a discussion, three of the cavers returned to retrieve the items while the rest remained at the entrance.
In line with their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), when the time reached 21h00 and they had not returned to the surface, a mandatory precautionary alert was sent to WSAR via Metro Rescue Control. WSAR was then placed on standby as a matter of course.
At 22h49 the message was received that the three cavers had surfaced, after which the alert was downgraded. Once the cavers had gathered all their equipment, the rescuers accompanied them down the mountain to the parking area at Constantia Nek. The official “stand down” was issued at 01h02 the following morning.
At no stage were the cavers in any need of a rescue response, however, they need to be commended for following their SOPs by notifying the necessary authorities when they exceeded their time limit.
Jonkershoek Nature Reserve near Stellenbosch
At 00h58 on Monday the 3rd of June 2019 the Winelands WSAR was activated to search for three overdue hikers who had been exploring one of the known trails in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve managed by Cape Nature.
Information received from the caller suggested that the last contact with the hiking party was at about 21h00. Cape Nature had dispatched their rangers to see whether the vehicle belonging to the party could be found in the reserve. In the meantime, a full WSAR response had been initiated. This included Rescue Mountaineers, a 4×4 team, logistical and communication crews. Shortly after the hiking party’s vehicle had been located, information received suggested that the party was descending Swartbos Kloof. At 01h55 one of the rangers spotted a flashlight up in the kloof. It could be determined that the light was indeed moving downwards. The Rescue team who had stationed themselves at the jeep track maintained a close watch on the situation while a team of Rescue Mountaineers made their way up the kloof towards the party.
By 03h20 the hikers and the rescuers had a visual of each other’s lights, and thirty minutes later the rescue team had reached the overdue party. After offering the hikers warm clothes and some sustenance, they descended the kloof. At 04h40 the hikers and rescuers had reached the jeep track. No further attention was required and they were deemed well enough to leave via their own transport.
WSAR urges the public to please:-
- contact the Speological Society before planning to enter any of the caves in the Table Mountain National Park
- leave your hiking route information and other pertinent details with a family member or a friend
- plan your intended excursion in a way that your party would be done before sunset
- carry a headlamp in your pack
WSAR is a volunteer based organisation.
Call 021 937 0300 or 112 for any wilderness or mountain rescue response.
In association with the Western Cape Emergency Medical Services.
WSAR is a member of the International Commission of Alpine Rescue.