Located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, Kimberley is world famous for its rich diamond and mining history. Kimberley South Africa may not be a major tourist destination—its significant distance from Cape Town and Johannesburg being one obstacle—but Kimberley vacations are a great way for history buffs and anyone else intrigued by mining and diamonds to learn more about the history of the industry.
Kimberley's mining industry got off to a quick start in 1871, following the discovery of diamonds in the area. Within months, thousands upon thousands of men were digging in the same spot, leading to the creation of the world's largest man-made hole as well as famous 83.5-carat Star of Africa diamond. It was here that Cecil John Rhodes made a fortune, forming the De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., which would soon become a world-famous—and fantastically rich—diamond company. All told, the Big Hole yielded a whopping 14.5 million carats of diamonds.
Those on Kimberley vacations will definitely want to check out the Big Hole, which dominates the town. Inactive since 1914, the Big Hole is a giant 705 feet deep and almost a mile in diameter. For lodging on your African vacation in Kimberley, you won't have to travel far from the Big Hole; the Victorian Guest Lodge is located just across from the Big Hole entrance, and there are other Kimberley hotels to choose from in the area.
For more insight into the mining history of Kimberley South Africa, add the Mine Museum to your Kimberley travel itinerary. The open-air museum recreates the city in its boom period of the 1880s, faithfully showing miners' dwellings, shops, pubs, and the De Beers family farmhouse, Cecil John Rhodes's railway carriage, and the first church built in Kimberley. In the De Beers Diamond Hall, you'll find the Eureka diamond, which was the first diamond to be officially registered in South Africa. There is a historical tram which runs daily between the City Hall and the Kimberley Mine Museum.
Diamonds are certainly the main attraction for Kimberley travel, but they are not the only one. When you've had your fill of ogling old-time mining town recreations, enjoy the other attractions available for those on Kimberley vacations, including the Oppenheimer Memorial Gardens, the Duggan Cronin Photo Gallery, and the William Humphreys Art Gallery. The Duggan Cronin Photo Gallery displays photographs A.M. Duggan Cronin took of native South Africans between 1919 and 1939. The gallery also exhibits African art and rock paintings. The William Humphreys Art Gallery offers art of a different flavor, mainly displaying seventeenth-century Dutch paintings and also modern South African art. A short trip from Kimberley will take you to the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, where you can take an audio tour of ancient rock art.
The rich history of Kimberley South Africa and its Big Hole and Mining Museum makes it an attractive destination for mining buffs and anyone interested in the country's history, but the city also offers a number of museums to explore, giving vacationers additional reasons to add Kimberley travel to the itinerary for their South African vacation.