Diamond Fields Destinations & Attractions
During the second half of the 19th century, South Africa transformed in the eyes of the world. Gold was discovered and people from all over Europe and further afield flooded the country’s borders to get their share of the gold rush riches. The Diamond Fields District represents one of the areas that were most prolific in this important part of South Africa’s history. This period was one of wealth and success, but also of cruelty and greed; creating a complex reminder of the human spirit. Some of its key towns include Kimberley, Griquatown and Barkly West.
Kimberley is the capital city of the Northern Cape Province, and was developed around the Big Hole, also known as Kimberley Mine. This is believed by many to be the largest hole ever to be excavated by hand. Diamonds were first discovered here in 1871 and, for the next 44 years, the hole was excavated by approximately 50 000 miners in search of more. During this time, about 2 720 kilograms (approximately 14.5 million carats) of diamonds were found. Incredibly, the hole has a width of 463 metres and is about 215 metres deep (in fact, it was deeper, but it has been filled with debris to some extent over the years). The hole was closed for mining in 1914, but continues to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists to see its impressive size and beauty. The Mine Museum (The Big Hole Kimberley) provides wonderful peeks into the history of the mine and the way of life of the people that depended on its yield for their livelihood. The entire museum has been revamped with a Diamonds and Destiny theme.
The natural vegetation of the Northern Cape is quite different from what is found in its surrounding provinces. This landscape is the habitat of a number of interesting bird and land animal species, which makes for a worthwhile experience for anyone that has a passion for wildlife. The province is home to the Mokala National Park and the Vaalbos National Park. Each is unique, and promises something special, but share a natural beauty and the promise of a fascinating experience. Visitors are encouraged to take game drives, bush walks and trails through these facilities to have an intimate encounter with the wonders of the South African landscape.