Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa

Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa.

The history of Kimberley began when the first diamond was found in South Africa in 1867. A farm boy had discovered a uniquely glittering stone and took it home for his siblings to play with. His parents had it evaluated and identified as a diamond.

However, the 'Diamond Rush' occurred 3 years later, when a handful of diamonds was discovered on the Zandfontein farm of Nicolaas de Beers. Over 30,000 people arrived, and the de Beers were happy to sell their farm for 6,300 pounds.

The best diamond discoveries were made on Colesberg Koppie; which became the site of the Kimberley Mine. A shaft was driven into the earth of the hill, hosting the initial dicoveries. So, over time, the deepest hole ('Big Hole') ever dug by man was formed in Kimberley, which is the town's biggest attraction.

The Kimberley Mine Museum is a reconstructed mining town built around the 'Big Hole' - a huge monument to the lengths (and depths) humans will go in search of these glittering gems. It is only because of the existence of an enormous diamond pipe that the town of Kimberley ever developed. An interesting fact is that the rock that diamonds are found in is called kimberlite.

Not far from the town is a fascinating rock art site. Instead of paintings, these are rock engravings and they depict a strange array of abstract shapes and designs.

As well as being an interesting town in its own right, Kimberley is a convenient stopover en route between Cape Town and Johannesburg on the N12, which is less frantic than the N1, and about the same distance. Kimberley has a small airport and the slightly busier airport at Bloemfontein is less than 200 kilometres (120 miles) away along the N8.