Kimberley, one of the top places to visit in South-Africa
With its surrounding wide open spaces, golden savannahs, and deep blue skies, Kimberley is defined by its sparkling and often tumultuous history. It is also one of the top 50 places to visit in South-Africa.
The first episode in Kimberley’s history is the diamond rush of 1869.
In 1869 a shepherd called Swartbooi found an 83 carat diamond that grabbed the attention of the world. This shepherd’s discovery sparked hope, dreams and the imagination in many an adventurous spirit across the world.
This diamond called “the star of South-Africa” is very aptly named – it’s sparkle influenced the history and development of South-Africa in many ways.
The first consequence was the great diamond rush that followed Mr. Swartbooi’s discovery. The diamond rush started along the riverbeds of Klipdrift (Barkley West) and led to Kimberley.
Here the diggers created the biggest hand-dug excavation in the world, The Big Hole. They put Kimberley on the map as the Diamond capital of the world
Created by shovels, picks, blood, sweat and tears, this spectacular hole is 214 meters deep and has a perimeter of 1.6 km. The determined miners dug between 1871 and 1914. They moved 22.5 million tons of earth that yielded 2722kg of diamonds.
These riches led to the rise of prominent figures like Cecil John Rhodes, the forming and rise of companies like De Beers. Their legacy and influence still affect us all.
The Big Hole houses a surrounding open air museum that consists of original buildings from the diamond rush era, called the Old Town. Through the investment by De beers Consolidated Mines, new attractions have been added to the Big Hole facility in order to create a world-class tourist destination, and one of south-Africa’s top 50. This provides a unique insight into diamonds and the lives of those who toiled in search of them.
A stroll through the Old Town brings the atmosphere to life. If one close your eyes you can almost hear the hustle and bustle and perhaps a brawl breaking out at the Occidental Bar.
The Occidental is the oldest bar in South-Africa. Here visitors gets an authentic experience as well as Buffet Sunday Lunches and Live music from time to time.
Back in the visitor center, visitors can watch the educational film in a unique movie theatre. Furthermore, you can take a tour through the dark labyrinth of mine tunnels. Visit the real diamond vault where the sparkling glistening diamonds take your breath away. You can also do serious shopping in the numerous shops that sell everything from jewelry, curios and leather goods. You can even try your luck at panning for your very own diamond.
Finally, perhaps the most spectacular and unforgettable of all the experiences at the Big Hole is the viewing platform. The platform is exactly the size of a 19th-century mining claim (30 Cape feet wide by 30 Cape feet long). This gives visitors the opportunity to view the Big hole from above, to take in its grandeur and remarkable scale.