We headed to Kimberley for 3 days after we explored Pretoria and, aside from looking for water shops, we didn’t do much. We based ourselves near Memorial Lane which is lined with war monuments and the kids enjoyed exploring the very Roman looking one in the center of the circle at sunset.
Well, now that I think about it, we did do a lot in Kimberley but I didn’t remember it until I started typing. After looking at the pictures, I remember us hiking to Kamfer Dam to get pictures of the flamingos. In the end, we sent Anton to do it because the veld started encroaching on the path more and more and the kids started whining.
Google maps has the beacon for Kamfer Dam right in the middle of the dam itself with no suggestion as to how to get to the dam. There is a train line that runs along the one side of the dam, where the majority of the flamingos seem to cluster but it’s apparently a criminal offence to cross the line to take pictures of the flamingos.
As a result, we found the only way we could get to the dam is to park near the casino (closer to the golf club actually) and walk in. I’m sure 4x4s could go most of the way but, as we don’t have a 4×4, our feet had to do the work.
Of course, no visit to Kimberley is complete without a trip to The Big Hole and I was impressed at how much had been improved since I had been there as a child. A family of 2 adults and 3 children can get in for R280 and the tour includes a 20 minute movie about the history of the diamond hunters and how Kimberley became a mining town followed by a walking tour to the Hole where well informed guides tell you everything you ever wanted to know.
This is then followed by a trip “underground” in a lift to a simulated mining environment complete with audio tracks, which gives you an idea of what it would have sounded like while the miners were digging. The blasting is super loud but well worth the experience. I cannot imagine how those men managed to work every single day and not go deaf by the end of it. It is SO LOUD!
Once you leave the simulated mine environment, you are taken around more of a museum style tour and your guides talk you through the illustrations and models that show how the mining was done. The tour is finished off with a trip to an armed security guarded vault, where you get to look at all the colours, shapes and sizes that diamond come in. There are so many more colours than just the brilliant white that everyone is familiar with.
Kimberley is an interesting town, drenched in history. It’s hard to imagine how people walked there on foot from all over South Africa to get to the diamond rush since it takes around 10 hours to get there from Cape Town in a car.
Clearly fortune hunters did what they had to do for their little piece of riches, fame and glory.