Mossel Bay, on South Africa’s Garden Route, is known as the place where Europeans first set foot in southern Africa in the 15th century. But its history is much older than that and it is now thought that everyone living today may be descended from the people who lived in this area 200,000 years ago.

Cave at Cape St Blaize, South Africa

A walkway at Cape St Blaize allows visitors to explore the cave

There are lots of Stone Age sites along the Garden Route, and stone tools and rock art have been discovered in many places. But one of the first sites to be excavated was the cave of Cape St Blaize in Mossel Bay, located beneath the town’s 19th century lighthouse.

Cape St Blaize, Mossel Bay

The Cape St Blaize cave sits just below the Mossel Bay lighthouse

The first excavations, in 1888, found artefacts going back 80,000 years, which would put occupation of the cave in the Middle Stone Age. However, more recent discoveries suggest that the cave was inhabited by the San (or Khoekhoek) people around 800,000 years ago. This would suggest that the Mossel Bay area was home to the very first people from whom we are all descended.

Dassies at Cape St Blaize

Dassies live in and around the cave

Today the cave is open to visitors, with a specially constructed walkway and information boards. And it is still inhabited – although not by humans but by inquisitive dassies (small furry relatives of the elephant).

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