If you come to Kimberley with a strong sense of curiosity and a smattering of local history, you may well regard your encounter with the Diamond City as one of your most rewarding experiences in South Africa.
The ghosts of diamond barons and diggers, the heady sounds of honky-tonk saloons and boxing rings, auctions and arrivals, with everything happening around the world’s largest man-made hole in the ground – that’s the soul of Kimberley in the Northern Cape. From 1871, when the first diamonds were found on the farm Vooruitzicht, through to history’s most hectic diamond rush, Kimberley has grown up into a dignified city which honours its past and looks to the future.
The city has a very well-developed tourism route, with all sorts of options. You can go on Ghost Trails, pub crawls, game viewing, fly-fishing expeditions, guided tours of working mines, a trip on the tram cars through the re-created historic village, the museums, the San Art Centre, township tours and a poignant visit to the nearby Magersfontein Anglo-Boer War battle site.
Visit the Kimberley Club and you will get a feel of Victorian era life amongst the diggings. This was where the local toffs hung their drinking hats – and most of them paying homage to the ‘Laird of Kimberley’ – Cecil John Rhodes.
The Anglo-Boer War saw the Siege of Kimberley, and even during this time the club managed to serve a decent Sunday lunch – albeit with a fair bit of horsemeat on the menu. They called the item ‘grilled prime veal fillet garni a la Siege’.
The McGregor Museum is an elegant testimony to early Kimberley lifestyles, the Big Hole Museum will keep you occupied for most of a day, tours of Galeshewe Township, the Wildebeestkuil Rock Art Centre and the poignant Magersfontein battle site will ensure you spend at least a week exploring the ins and outs of the Diamond City in the Kalahari.
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