Born in the heady days of the diamond mines, this diamond fields town is seeped in colourful history, spectacular wild life and contemporary thrills. From the world's largest uncut diamond to a breeding site of the spectacular Lesser Flamingo, a world-championship skate plaza, and haunted houses and battlefields, Kimberley is an absolute rush.
Things To Do In Kimberley
- The Big Hole Complex. Take a walk along a platform and look into the world's deepest man-made crater, and then go down the recreation of a 19th Century mine shaft to experience the dangerous mining conditions of that period. Take a walk around the lovingly restored old town to the Real Diamond Display, which is housed in a vault, and be stunned by the famous Kimberley Octahedron or 616, which, at 616 carats, is one of the world's largest uncut diamonds. Other attractions include an authentic digger’s sleeping quarters, a church built in Europe and shipped to Kimberley, Barney Barnato’s boxing academy, and the actual De Beers railway coach. When in need of refreshment stop in at The Occidental Bar & Grill, an old-world style pub and a la carte grill. Contact the visitor's centre on 053 839 4600.
- Mokala National Park. This 26 485-hectare reserve is home to many endangered species including Black and White Rhino, as well as Buffalo, Tsessebe, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Mountain Reedbuck, Giraffe, Gemsbok, Eland, Zebra, Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest, Kudu, Ostrich, Steenbok, Duiker and Springbok. Self drive or tour guided game drives. Contact 053 204 8000 to book.
- The Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre. An 800-metre long walkabout takes you past as many as 400 rock engravings telling the story of the !Xun and Khwe San people who were the first to settle here. Allow at least a couple of hours for the tour. After the tour, invest in some authentic !Xun art from the shop at the visitors' centre. Call 053 833 7069 for more information.
- Kamfers Dam. Just six kilometres outside of Kimberley, the Kamfers Dam supports the largest Lesser Flamingo breeding colony in southern Africa. The wetland hosts between 60 000 to 80 000 of these spectacular pink birds in the September to April breeding season, and it is one of only six breeding sites in the world. The pristine wetland hosts more than 2 000 birds -- excluding the flamingos.
Fun Things To Do In Kimberley
- Guided Ghost Walks. Kimberley is reputed to be haunted and for a nighttime thrill, take a four-hour guided walk on the ghost trail from the Honoured Dead Memorial to some of the city’s 158 haunted houses and buildings. Ghost tours of the haunted city centre, and the Magersfontein battlefield (where you may hear the ghostly bagpipes) are also available. Call 083 732 3189 to book your own guided ghost walk.
- Vintage Tram. A railway line and tram was introduced in Kimberley in 1897. Now, 126 years later, you can take a 20-minute ride around the Big Hole on the original tram. A great way to experience Kimberley. Call 053 832 7298 for more information.
- Kumba Skate Plaza. Purpose-built for skateboarding championship events, this modern skate park is host to the World Skateboarding Championships in October, and the Kimberley Diamond Cup event, every year. The park offers an amazing combination of street and vert skating, and it is rated alongside the best skate parks in the world. Lessons for beginners every Sunday afternoon. Park closes 10pm. For more call 071 431 4560.
- Flamingo World. Situated adjacent to the Kimberley Golf Club, visitors can enjoy the incentive of a world-class golf course, an exciting casino experience, and then wine and dine in a family steakhouse. The Flamingo Casino features 11 tables and over 250 state-of-the-art slot machines. For more call 053 830 2600.
Arts And Culture In Kimberley
- The McGregor Museum. The impressively beautiful McGregor Museum in the old Kimberley Sanatorium building (where Cecil John Rhodes had rooms) has natural science exhibitions from the early history of humankind to the diamond rush days and the dark years of apartheid. Contact the museum on 053 839 2700.
- Sol Plaatje Museum. Writer Sol Plaatje completed Mhudi, the first novel by a black South African, at No 32 Angel Street, Malay Camp in Kimberley. In honour of his contribution to South African literature, the house has been turned into a museum. Call 082 804 3266 for times and more.
- William Humphreys Art Gallery. Opened in 1952, this gallery boasts some beautiful French, Dutch and Flemish art, alongside the gorgeous exhibition of southern African pieces. Call 053 831 1724/5 for times.
- Galeshelwe. A cultural tour of Galeshelwe, the oldest township in South Africa, known as Poetry On Da Bus, includes a visit to the Sol Plaatjie Museum, the home of the late Pan Africanist Congress leader Robert Sobukwe and a local shebeen. Call 053 832 0037 for bookings and prices.
The weather in Kimberley is typically that of desert and semi-desert areas, with low annual rainfall, hot summers (from December to February between 33 and 36 degrees Celsius).
During the rainy season occurs during the summer months and thunderstorms are not uncommon. During winter (from June to August), daytime temperatures are generally warm (22 degrees Celcius), but at night it can be cold, often below freezing.
About six kilometres south of Kimberley, Kimberley Airport is a quick five-to-ten minute drive to the central business district. It handles about 170 000 passengers a year, three-quarters of which are business travellers.
The airport also dispatches a remarkable range of cargo including game trophies and industrial equipment. Contact the airport on 053 830 7101.