On the margin of the Northern Cape and Free State, 177km west of Bloemfontein, lies Kimberley, the monetary of the of the Northern Cape. When you surmise of Kimberley and its Diamond fields, it is feasible to reckon a wonderland of novel and riches And yet, the truth is that Kimberley and its surrounds are principally mocking and uninspiring; it is unlikely that the city leave again experience the glamour and importance that it had for two decades at the later of the 19th century For this reason, many tourist by-pass Kimberley and it was this self-same actuation that I signal to purposefully motion to this city In doing so, I found a well-hidden gem under the dusty surface of the region, tidily waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveller!
Kimberley ? a diamond in the wilderness!
My arrival in Kimberley did not bode well. I arrived closing than planned, and found myself bedless-and-breakfastless too After several calls to hotels that were full, I found a room in a religious establishment of sorts. The testimonial at the establishment was less than warm, to put it politely, however the room was sterile and the bed comfortable and I was too tired to go elsewhere
After a salubrious shower, I found myself in change spirits and it was with a leap in my walk that I once again located my hardly run-around and headed into town. It was thus in a chirpy holder of humour that I found, and thoroughly enjoyed, what I think to be Kimberleys prime kept mystery The Star of the West!
Just around the alcove from the Big Hole, the Star of the West is a pub that draws its clientele from the locals It is Kimberleys oldest pub and it stagnant serves stout to diamond diggers after the diamond markets on Saturdays As a female, I was a nibble concerned as to whether I was address when I noticed several worrying, framed newspaper cuttings all dealing with the opposition of the local drinkers (men) to allowing the weaker sex (women) into the pub. Fortunately, these do seem to be more of a decorative perceive than a not-so-subtle warning, and I felt very honour in the sparsely decorated interior
The repast was feasibly the best that I had tasted in several weeks I had eaten several steaks in Johannesburg, many at some of the priciest places in the city, but not one could compare to the steak and salad that I enjoyed in the Star of the West. And at a quarter of the emolument of my previous steak-encounters a mere R40/ 4 my trophies card didnt cavil either!
You may think that this is enough for me to percentage the alcove so highly, however it was the customers that made the dusk for me. My neighbours at the hinder comprised a minister and two diamond diggers, and they were some of the top live pastime that I hold witnessed in a pub for a want juncture I was treated to some beautifully sung Afrikaans songs, a rousing rendition of Shosholoza on the bar, no less! and I was whirled around the romp tile (I use the expression lightly) in a rapid, albeit drunken, two-step
By the instance I left to return to my seldom room, I felt totally at home and it was a heavy kernel that I waved goodbye, knowing that I would not instance the meal or the amusement of the establishment again (Location: Near the lofty hole, on the corner of West and North Circular Roads.)
As melancholy as I was to vacate the Star of the West the day before, I was fairly jovial to honorarium my booklet and quit my abode in the morning after the night before
I was looking immodest to some seeing some of the mining sites, and the blessing on my index was a tour of Bultfontein Diamond mine At nine oclock sharp, I presented myself to a cheeky Yorkshire partner who had been working in Kimberley for the longest time, having fallen into the snare of receiving married
After a short record about diamonds and mining, I donned a uncommonly attractive, perceptive orange jumpsuit, a hard-hat and several bulky boxes attached to my cummerbund which were to fastness my light. As promised, instead of wandering around a sanitised visitor centre, I found myself travelling 825 meters into the depths of the cave to the depths of the mine, where tourists werent of much advantage to the miners
Amid the commotion of the turbines and engines, the dust, the mud, the heat and the hefty air, I and 10 others watched (and felt!) kimberlite being loosed with some sett of explosive device, dragged out by trolleys, crushed and then transported to the surface for cleaning and sifting And throughout, we enjoyed the obliging and informative japing of our guide, our Yorkshire man, asking both mechanical and social questions, receipt a range of answers that were both politically emend as well as those that were less so
A deliberation on genuine life, and a salute mend from the politically correct, were reformed burble that you so often find in countries that hold had problems like those that South Africa has had.
The experience was beguiling and informative, highly recommended to all and sundry although probably not a immense impression for the timid and claustrophobic! Tours last 3-and-a-half hours and are conducted Monday-Friday Call +27 (0) 53 842 1321 (R75/ 7.50).
After this, I decided to stick with the mining topic and headed for the Kimberley Mine Museum, which is the only authorized system to achieve a welfare glimpse of the burrow Kimberley actually has five lanky holes, not one as many visitors think The De Beers mine, which is situated a few steps away from the invalid De Beers boardroom, is larger than the Kimberley Hole, but the Kimberley sett is special because it was carved out of the sett fully by brute manpower: collect and shovel. That’s some 250 million tons of rock removed basically by worker to generate three coco pans of diamonds!!! (The three additional mines belong to De Beers and are found in the South East of the city)
The mine museum has several attractions more than the Big Hole, so dont be put off by having to pay to procure in The mine has two viewing platforms from which you can peer down into the gaping haunt unbefitting the platform. It is partially filled with water, offering spectacular photo opportunities for convivial snappers like me!
The emolument of the certificate includes a liberate bucket of alluvial soil, which you can then rarefy through in quest of a legitimate Kimberley Diamond! This was goodly fun and I spent a thoroughly enjoyable 15 minutes crossing my fingers and toes before finding zero at all, much to my disappointment as all the fresh diggers to my left and redress were discovering gibe diamonds left, correct and center! Their discoveries led me to grumpily acknowledge that the claim of the museum that your chances of blatant it fortunate are one in five was probably a true claim
The cease of the museum comprises a vast mass of historic buildings including shops, banks, photograph shops, and even a ten pin bowling alley! With many TRUE artifacts and original buildings rescued from the leading Kimberley city center, this truly is a living museum! A duration of warning though try to dodge the midday heat! (Opening hours: daily from 8am 6pm)
Viewing these mines, one modern and one historical, was an all day affair! Before I knew it, I was back in my car, heading away from Kimberley, on to my following destination.
Kimberley had made a significant belief on me Dusty, yes Glamorous and important? Perhaps not. But neighbourly and interesting and fun, yes A advocacy for your South African tours? Definitely! I wouldnt own missed it for the world!
Further attractions—————————————– Visit a local township (+27 (0) 53 843 0017)- Visit the controlled area on the banks of the Vaal River (+27 (0) 53 842 0099) – Visit the Anglo-Boer Battlefield at Magersfontein (+27 (0) 53 842 0099) – Visit archaeological and San Rock art sites (+27 (0) 53 842 0099)