Did you know?
At Waterfall Shelter in Kamberg, rock art paintings are believed to hold magical powers.
There are more than 40 000 San Bushman rock art images in Ukhahlamba- Drakensberg Park, in KwaZulu-Natal, and the Kamberg Rock Art Centre in the Kamberg Nature Reserve helps visitors understand and interpret them.
The paintings at Game Pass Shelter, also known as Shelter Cave, at the Kamberg Rock art site were a 'Rosetta Stone' enabling scholars to find a whole new dimension to San rock art.
At first thought to be simple reproductions of everyday life and hunting by a primitive people, many of the mystical images are now seen as 'therianthropic', or images seen by shamans (healers) while in dance-induced trances.
They reflect the spirituality of the Bushman, who believes Man can take on the potency and powers of animals through a shaman in a trance. The eland had the greatest spiritual power. Large and fat, it was an animal of 'wellbeing, healing, beauty, peace and plenty'.
Paintings in this Drakensberg rock art site show blood flowing back from the heads of therianthropes', shamans who suffered nose bleeds and terrible pain during trances (their arms are extended behind them).
Game Pass images were the first South African rock art to be seen by the rest of the world, and as far back as 1915 they featured in the Scientific American. The Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for both its ethnological significance and its great beauty. The paintings are national monuments protected by law.
The Kamberg San Rock Art Centre offers audio-visual material on the San, and you can visit Game Pass Cave with a guide. You follow a path through the grasslands of the Little Berg for three hours, and only the last few hundred metres are steep.
Nearby is Waterfall Shelter, where paintings 'impart magical powers' to the water. No wonder the trout in the area have a mystical 'shimmer' to them...
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)33 845 1000
Kamberg Rock Art Centre
Tel: +27 (0)33 263 7251
How to get here
The Kamberg Nature Reserve is part of the famous Midlands Meander, and the nearest city is Pietermaritzburg. Get a copy of the Midlands Meander map from any tourist asset in the area and follow the route.
Best time to visit
KwaZulu-Natal has a mostly temperate climate, except up in the Drakensberg during the winter months of June to September, when snowfalls are common. But even then, it's a charming province to visit.
Around the area
Kamberg is close to other adventure activities eg., Karkloof Canopy Tours (longest Canopy Tour in South Africa), Over the Top Adventures (abseiling off the Howick Falls 107 m), Annual Comrades Marathon, Midmar Mile and Giants Castle Classic, to mention a few.
Tours to do
There are a number of walks and trails in the area, some for the tenderfeet and some for the gung-ho types. All are fascinating, and on most of them you will find San art. Book your trail at the number listed on Contacts.
Organise one of several guided walking trails from your lodge, hotel or resort.
What will it cost
A guided walk and presentation will cost R50 per person. A day visitor pays R30 per adult to get into the park and R10 per child.
Length of stay
Kamberg is worth a two-night stay.
What to pack
Pack walking gear, don't forget your birding books and your cameras and your binoculars.
Where to stay
There is a pick of lovely lodges and resorts in the Drakensberg, all with spectacular views. You can also stay on site, at the Kamberg Nature Reserve.
Hot air ballooning, outrides on Appaloosa horses through the Kamberg Valley and up into the the Little Berg, tubing on the Little Mooi River, trout fishing, walks along the Little and Big Mooi Rivers. Kamberg is adventure paradise.
Local crafts sold along the Midlands Meander.