If you were to do a google search on cave living around the world, I think that you would be quite surprised with what that search revealed. I can testify to this as that is exactly what I did after becoming a self-confessed cave dweller.
Previously, I had only associated cave living with prehistoric man of our history books. When I started to research cave houses in Andalucia I soon learnt that many of the refurbished caves within the region date back as far as the Moorish times.
So I started to wonder where else cave living existed. Upon doing a google search I was amazed to discover how widespread cave living is. There truly is cave living around the world, with 5 of our 7 continents having cave homes – Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.
So I thought that in a slight change of direction I would write a brief blog entry each month about the cave dwellings in each of these Continents.
The first Continent in this series on cave living around the world is Africa.
Cave dwellings of Africa
Africa is home to some of the oldest evidence of humanity and their ongoing relationship with caves. As recently as 2015 there was an extraordinary find in a South African cave that now suggests that man may be up to 2.8 million years old.
But that’s all in the past ! Fast forwarding to modern-day we discover that Africa is still home to a number of cave dwellers.
Libya – Gharyan (Naufosa Mountains)
In this region of Libya, caves were popular as they provided warmth in the winter months and kept the inhabitants cool in the summer months – sound familiar ? The caves were dug vertically into the ground and excavated around a central courtyard. The caves were typically about 10m long and split into 3 sections – the parents sleeping area; the children’s bedding and a living room. There were additional smaller caves which were used as communal cooking areas.
Sadly, most are now abandoned as the families moved into more modern accommodations. More recently though some have been refurbished for tourism purposes, with several being opened up as hotels.
Mali – The Bandiagara Escarpment (land of the Dogons)
In this part of Mali, Dogon homes are carved into the Bandiagara escarpment. There are 30 villages in total along the escarpment, with everything from simple homes in the cliff walls to detailed mosques made of mud and sticks.
Thankfully, much of the Dogons original cultural traditions still exist and visitors can stay in the villages along the escarpment.
Morocco – Bhalil
Bhalil is noted for its unique caves in the old part of the village. Sadly once again progress is destroying traditional ways and the caves are slowly disappearing as the village modernizes. Now only a handful remain, which are open to tourist visits.
Tunisia – Matmata
In Tunisia, the Berber have built cave homes to avoid both the intense heat and strong winds of the desert. The sandstone is soft enough to enable excavation by hand but strong enough to last for centuries. One such village is Matmata and is still home to some 2000 people.
The homes are built by first digging a large pit, then tunneling into the sides before cutting artificial caves. The homes are grouped around a central courtyard and connected to other courtyards with more rooms forming an underground labyrinth.
So there you have it, the first blog entry on cave living around the World. Make sure you subscribe to the blog to ensure you don’t miss the next instalment which will look at cave living in Asia.
So … Who are one foot in the cave ?
We (Danny and Josie) have spent the last 10 years living and working in the Caribbean. In 2015 we decided we wanted to move closer to family and friends so bought a cave house in the Granada region of Andalucia, Spain. We moved there full time in January 2017. Now we write about our experiences of cave living and how we are adapting to life in Spain.
We also have a Facebook page full of pictures, experiences and information that we have found useful along the way. If its your thing, you can also follow us on Instagram 🙂
5 words related to this blog entry …
The World – El Mundo
Continent – El Continente
Winter – El Invierno
Summer – El Verano
Underground – Subterráneo