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Boesmansgat, also known in English as "Bushman's Hole", is believed to be the sixth-deepest submerged freshwater cave (or sinkhole) in the world, having been dived to 282.6 metres (927 ft). It is located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.

Boesmansgat was believed to be first explored by amateur diver Mike Rathbourne in 1977. The lowest depth attained was by Nuno Gomes in 1996. Being at an altitude of over 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) this was a particularly challenging dive, requiring a decompression schedule equivalent for a dive to 339 metres (1,112 ft) feet at sea level.[1]

On 24 November 2004, Verna van Schaik set the Guinness Woman's World Record for the deepest dive with a dive to 221 metres (725 ft).


Eben Leyden died in 1993 after blacking out at 60 metres (200 ft).[2]

In 1994, while helping a team prepare for a dive, Deon Dreyer died on ascent at a depth of 50 metres (160 ft).[2][3]

Dreyer's body remained in the cave until being discovered ten years later at a depth of 270 metres (890 ft) by renowned cave diver David Shaw. On 8 January 2005 an attempt made by Shaw to recover the body resulted in his death, and nearly claimed the life of support diver Don Shirley. The bodies of Dreyer and Shaw were ultimately recovered on 12 January 2005, while part of the staff was recovering part of the technical equipment.[4]

In literature[edit]

The death of the parents of one of the protagonists while diving in Bushman's Hole is an important plot device in Mo Hayder's novel Ritual.


Coordinates: 27°55′18″S 23°38′30″E / 27.92167°S 23.64167°E / -27.92167; 23.64167