Kimberley, South Africa
According to citypopulationreview, Kimberley is the largest city in the Northern Cape province in South Africa and the “diamond capital” of the country. It is famous, first of all, for the Big Hole – the world’s largest hand-dug quarry, formed when thousands of people eagerly searched for diamonds here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Kimberley is called the city that shines. This is not only about jewelry, but also about numerous cultural and natural values: there are many interesting museums and it is from here that it is best to go on a trip to the natural beauties of the province, including the Mokala National Park, nature reserves and hunting grounds.
One of the most attractive places in the Kimberley is Flamingo Island. The colony has up to 60 thousand individuals – that is, more than half of all flamingos living in South Africa.
How to get to Kimberley
Kimberley has a small airport located 9 km from the city, but it only accepts flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg. The only way to get from the airport to the city is by taxi, the journey takes 12-15 minutes and costs 130-150 ZAR.
There are no direct flights from Moscow to Johannesburg. With one transfer, you can fly from Sheremetyevo with Aeroflot, Al-Italia and KL-M, from Domodedovo – with Qatar Airways and Ethiopian Airlines. On the way from 15 hours, the cost of tickets is from 510 USD round-trip. The journey from St. Petersburg with one transfer will take from 16.5 hours and will cost from 680 USD in both directions.
From the airport to Kimberley 500 km. You can get there by bus, train or plane. In the first case, the road will take a little more than 6 hours, in the second – about 8, in the third – an hour. The flight will cost from 50 USD one way, bus prices start from 20 USD, for the train – from 80 USD.
From Cape Town
Turkish Airlines (with two transfers) fly from Moscow Vnukovo to Cape Town, Qatar Airways and Ethiopian Airlines (with one) fly from Domodedovo. On the way from 15 hours 50 minutes, the cost of tickets is from 520 USD in both directions. You can fly from St. Petersburg with two transfers in 21.5 hours and 550 USD round trip.
From Cape Town Airport to Kimberley 1000 km. You can overcome them by plane (about 1.5 hours and from 60 USD), by Citiliner buses (11 hours, from 35 USD) or by train (from 17 hours, from 150 USD).
There are very few buses and minibuses in Kimberley, and they are mostly used by not the most prosperous residents. Within the center you can move on foot, and for long trips it is better to take a taxi and call it by phone, catching a car on the street can be unsafe.
The “stardom” of Kimberley hotels is quite consistent with European standards, but many will definitely have an African flavor like animal skins and wooden furniture.
Inexpensive apartments or a room in a guest house can be rented here for 40-60 USD per day for a double room with air conditioning, private bathroom and sometimes breakfast. The four-star hotel will have a pool, a more spacious room and a varied breakfast. Accommodation prices there start from 70-80 USD per day for a double room, but more often – from 100-120 USD, especially when it comes to the city center. There are no hostels, the most budget accommodation is a room in a guest house with a bathroom on the floor for 25-30 USD per day.
In 1888, the Englishman Cecil John Rhodes bought up and united all the mines of the Big Pit under his brand of De Beers. This company still maintains a monopoly on the diamond market. They are mined here to this day, but not in such volumes as at the end of the 19th century.
Jewelry in Kimberley is of the highest quality, the craftsmen are truly professionals in their field. Shops are concentrated near quarries and mines, they can be visited both independently and with a guided tour.
Prices for first-class diamonds in South Africa are lower than in Russia and Europe. When leaving, you can issue Tax free and return 14% of the purchase price.
It is forbidden to export rough diamonds from South Africa, and for any products made of precious stones and metals at the border, you must present a certificate that will be issued to you along with the purchase.
Cuisine and restaurants
Kimberley has a decent selection of cafes and restaurants. Local cuisine establishments prepare karu lamb cold cuts, biltong beef jerky, fish, poultry or pork meat in pots with vegetables and biryani rice, and for dessert – spicy biscuits with samusas meat. There are also many Italian pizzerias, steakhouses and eateries in the city.
You should definitely try South African wine, which is served in restaurants and sold in shops. The best wines are from Stellenbosch, Parl, Franchouk and Constantchy.
One of the most popular pubs in the city is the Halfway House. It is located halfway between the center of Kimberley and Beaconsfield and is famous for being built to be ridden directly on horseback. According to legend, this was asked by Cecil Rhodes himself, who often traveled between cities on business and was one of the first visitors. According to another version, Lord Rhodes had a complex because of his small stature, and therefore wanted to drink his pint without jumping off the saddle.
Dinner at a restaurant will cost 200-300 ZAR per person.
And one of the oldest pubs in the country (1870), the Star of the West, still operates near the Kimberley Mining Museum. The city tram stops in front of the pub upon request. In 1990, the institution was declared a national monument.
Attractions and attractions in Kimberley
All the sights of the city one way or another relate to its “diamond history”. You should start your acquaintance with them from the Big Hole, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List (S Circular Rd, Kimberley). A huge hole with an area of more than 17 hectares and a depth of 240 m was dug by more than 50 thousand people in search of diamonds. Today it is filled with water.
By August 1914, more than 22 billion kg of ore and 2722 kg of diamonds had been taken out of the Big Hole.
The building of the City Hall (Cnr. Old Main St & Transvaal Rd, Kimberley North) and the Kimberley Club are of interest, the members of which were the most respected people in the city, including Lord Rhodes, Sir Oppenheimer and Harry Oppenheimer, who at various times headed the De Beers Corporation “. Today, the Boutique Hotel (41, Currey Street, Kimberley) is open here.
In honor of the workers who died in the mines, Ernest Oppenheimer’s Gardens erected the Digger Memorial. This is a fountain decorated with a composition of sculptures of 5 miners with a sieve for washing the soil in their hands.
Diamonds were sorted daily at the Harry Oppenheimer House (8, Tiffany Cres, Civic Centre, Kimberley). Since they did it in daylight, the windows in the building are only on the south side. Today the house is closed to tourists and carefully guarded.
3 things to do in the South African Kimberley:
- Take a historic retro tram from the Town Hall to the Open Main.
- Go around all the unusual museums of the city.
- Spend a few hours watching flamingos.
Next to the Big Hole is the Open Air Mining Museum – one of the visiting cards of the city (off. site in English). It tells about the history of diamond and gold mining in the region. The museum is an old city in miniature, fully recreating the atmosphere of Kimberley at the end of the 19th century. You can come here on an old tram that runs in the morning from the City Hall building, and entrance tickets are sold right in the car. The same Eureka diamond is stored here, with which it all began.
The MacGregor Museum is one of the city’s most interesting museums, featuring community projects in the Northern Cape designed to promote and preserve its history and ecology.
The Magersfontein Museum (2, Edgerton Road, Belgravia, Kimberley) is dedicated to the battlefields, while the Aviation Pioneers Museum (near Kimberley Airport) houses a replica of the Compton Patterson biplane, one of the world’s first training aircraft.
The William Humphrey Art Gallery houses collections of traditional and contemporary art from South Africa (off. site in English)
On Flamingo Island (Kamfers Dam), 7 km from the city, Lesser’s flamingos live, this is one of 4 places on the entire continent (and the only one in its southern part) where they breed. The bird colony has up to 60 thousand individuals – that is, more than half of all flamingos living in South Africa.
Not far from Kimberley is the 23,000-hectare Valbos National Park (Modder Rivier, Kimberley), whose main mission is to preserve the black rhinoceros population. Giraffes, zebras, antelopes and other animals also live here, and in addition – almost 160 species of rare birds.
Summer in South Africa lasts from October to March. The weather is quite changeable: in the morning it is usually sunny and hot, and in the afternoon there are heavy rains with thunderstorms. The off-season periods in the country are short, and winter begins in June and ends in the second half of August. In winter, there is practically no rain, it is sunny and dry.
If you are going to visit not only Kimberley, but also national parks, then it is better to plan a trip for the period from May to July.