Jamaican Caving Notes
Greater Swanga Shelter
March 31, 2005
Team: Stewart, Conolley, Roggy, Slack, Gary
Notes: RS Stewart
The morning had started with Carambie Cave. After finishing it, we moved up the Good Hope Glade road to start our search for Swanga, Pool, Crayfish, and Iron Maiden caves. They were all listed as being accessible from this side of the bush, arrayed across towards Printed Circuit Cave. We had linked with a friendly local man, Gary, soon after parking at the bottom of the Good Hope Glade road (near wpt 203), who not only knew of Swanga Cave, but would take us there (no charge - it turned out he wanted our assistance in exploring another cave he knew of and was curious about). We hiked up the road (a very minor rural road, more of a lane) until at the end it forked off into two trails. The left branch, we were told, headed to the Good Hope Glade, where we would search for several other caves later in the week. To the right, we were told, was Swanga. This seemed odd to me, because we were now well past the listed position for Swanga, and heading even further away. Nevertheless, we followed him down the trail to see what could be found. Whatever it was, it would be unlisted.
After passing through a saddle, we descended into a large bottomland that was fairly bushed-up on the slopes. Once down, we swung to the left, and after a short distance, we came to an enormous, shallow shelter-cave hard against the side of the valley (wpt 195). This, we were informed, was Swanga. Now, we knew that the listed Swanga is a small stream-passage cave, with a small entrance, and this, of course, in no way matched what we sought. We hiked closer into it and had a look at things.
At the bottom of this giant shelter, there was an obvious seasonal stream-rising, currently impenetrable due to mud/silt. It was not active, but it was dry-season, so this was no surprise. The effects of the last rising were certainly visible, though, in the form of dried mud covering a large part of the bottomland, and extending a good distance up the trunks of the trees growing in the valley immediately below the cave. This appeared to be, once again, a result of Hurricane Ivan some months before, as also seen at Mouth Maze. Hurricane or not, it is apparent that this rising is terrifically active at times, it was unlisted until now, and the source is undetermined.
I questioned our friend carefully about the name of this cave, and asked if he knew of anything in the area where the "real" Swanga was supposed to be, which had a small stream-passage type entrance. Indeed, he knew of such a cave, locally known as "Banga". After getting a GPS position (wpt 195) for the new shelter cave, we hiked back out to the end of the lane where the fork is found, and then back towards where we'd parked, and much closer to where the "real" Swanga was listed to be.
We're listing this new site with a low vulnerability, because it is just a large shelter with no bat-roost, etc. There is a possibility of Sesarma spp in the passages/bedding-planes that feed the rising.