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BBlood, sweat, tears, triumph, murder and despair ... such are the foundation stones of Kimberley, diamond capital of the world and gateway to the Kalahari and Diamond Fields of the Northern Cape.
Diamonds were first discovered in 1871 on Colesberg Koppie. It triggered rush fever which led to frantic mass diggings, culminating in what is now the Big Hole, the largest artificial construction to be found anywhere in the world.
Around this 365m-deep pit Kimberley sprang into being, impelled by the diamond rush that drew 30 000 miners to the diamond fields of South Africa. As time went by, prospectors' tents and shacks were replaced by tree-lined avenues graced by Victorian mansions, as Kimberley developed into a modern city.
A good starting point to relive these times is the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum. After watching an introductory film at the visitor's centre, peer into the depths of the Big Hole from the viewing platform.
Admire the 616, the world's biggest diamond crystal, at the real diamond display. See the old mining machines in the pulsator building.
Experience the mining conditions of yesteryear in the underground mine - a recreated mine shaft. Then head on down to the old town, with its preserved and restored period buildings. Round off a memorable day with a drink at the famous Diggers' Tavern.
Thirsty for more? Kimberley has numerous other attractions. Walk through the historical city centre, take in the museums, monuments and art galleries in old stately homes, or explore the city's haunted corners on the Kimberley ghost trail.
Then prepare yourself to experience the rest of the Diamond Fields region: the Vaal River diggings at Barkly West; old Boer War battlefields at Modder River and Magersfontein; the still operational Bultfontein mine; all this and more beckons to the Diamond Fields.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Big Hole Contact
Tel: +27 (0)53 830 4417
How to get here
Fly directly to Kimberley Airport from Oliver Tambo Airport in Johannesburg or Cape Town International Airport.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit the Diamond Fields of the Northern Cape is in spring or autumn, to avoid the extreme temperatures of summer and winter.
Things to do
To explore the Diamond Fields of the Northern Cape at your leisure, it is advisable to hire a car.
What to pack
Pack for weather extremes. It can be scorching in summer (November to February) and very cold in winter (May to August). Even spring nights can be chilly. Remember your comfortable walking shoes and camera!
Where to stay
Accommodation ranges from backpackers to campsites, caravan parks, self-catering, bed-and-breakfast, guesthouses, lodges and hotels.