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Boesmansgat, also known in English as "Bushman's Hole", is a deep submerged freshwater cave (or sinkhole) in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, which has been dived to a depth of 282.6 metres (927 ft).

Boesmansgat was believed to have first been explored by amateur diver Mike Rathbourne, in 1977. The greatest depth attained was by Nuno Gomes, in 1996. Its altitude of over 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) makes this a particularly challenging dive, requiring a decompression schedule equivalent for a dive to 339 metres (1,112 ft) at sea level.[1] (Gomes' dive was a close call, as he got stuck in the mud on the bottom of Bushman's Hole for two minutes before escaping.[2])

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).[3]


  • In 1993, Eben Leyden died after blacking out at 60 metres (197 ft).[2])
  • In 1994, while helping a team prepare for a dive, Deon Dreyer died on ascent at a depth of 50 metres (164 ft).[2][4][5] Dreyer's body remained in the cave until being discovered ten years later at a depth of 270 metres (886 ft) by renowned cave diver David Shaw.
  • On 8 January 2005, David Shaw died while attempting to recover Dreyer's body. (Shaw's close friend and support diver, Don Shirley, nearly died as well and was left with permanent ear damage that has impaired his balance.[2]) On 12 January 2005, Dreyer and Shaw's bodies were ultimately recovered near the surface, while part of the staff was recovering part of the technical equipment.[4][5]

In literature[edit]

In Mo Hayder's novel Ritual (2008), the death of the parents of one of the protagonists while diving in Bushman's Hole is an important plot device.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Farr, Martyn (8 February 2007). "South Africa – Bushmansgat". Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  2. ^ a b c d Zimmermann, Tim (August 1, 2005). "Raising the Dead". Outside Magazine.
  3. ^ "Deepest scuba dive (female)". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Episode 515: Good Guys, Act 3". This American Life.
  5. ^ a b Washington, Glynn (October 31, 2014). "Where No One Should Go". Snap Judgment.

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