Kimberley Mini Guide
Where is Kimberley?
Kimberley is a city in the northern cape of South Africa. It is most famous for its diamond mining past and a siege in the second Boer war. It has been nicknamed ‘The City That Sparkles’.
How Can I Get to the City?
Kimberley Airport is just outside the city and there are scheduled flights to Cape Town
, so you can connect there from destinations further afield. There is a rail service from most major cities into Kimberley. By car, you can travel from many cities in South Africa, using the N1 motorway via Bloemfontein
and take then taking the N12 or N8 into the city.
What is There to do There?
The Big Hole was originally a diamond mine that closed in 1914 - it is now filled with water and is a local landmark. There is an open air museum next to Big Hole where you can see the first ever diamond mined there, the ‘Eureka’. There are reconstructions of the DeBeers’ homestead and the Diggers Rest Pub so you can see how mining life used to be there. A tram will take you to different parts of the museum including the viewing deck over Big Hole. Visit the McGregor Museum and find out more about the history and ecology of the area or visit the Pioneers of Aviation Museum, one of who was the first lady pilot in South Africa, she learnt to fly in Kimberley.
What Can I See Outside of the City?
See the Flamingos at Kamfers Dam, a wetlands area where this rare species of flamingo is being bred. Head out to Mokala National Park 80km south of the city and look out for rhinos and wildebeest, maybe stay overnight in a lodge or camp outside, if you are feeling brave.
Can I Eat Out in the City?
The Kalahari Lodge Restaurant looks just like a traditional safari lodge to give you the feel you are on a game reserve. They specialise in local food and also offer barbeques and a Sunday carvery - it gets busy, so booking is essential. The Star of the West Restaurant and Bar is built on the original site of an iron shack where the miners used to drink and the myth of Madam Diamond Lil is still celebrated there. Cecil Rhodes (founder of Rhodesia and Diamond Magnate) apparently used to stop by on his horse for a beer, making it the only drive through bar in the world! The food there is both local and creative and definitely worth a visit for the atmosphere.
Are There any Hotels?
The 4 star Protea Hotel Kimberley has 94 luxurious rooms and is located on the edge of Big Hole. There is an outdoor pool and viewing deck as well as a restaurant where you can try local dishes using seasonal produce.
There are many places worth visiting in the Kimberley region if you’ve hired a car. Flamingo Island, 7km out of the city, is one of only four breeding grounds in Africa for Lesser Flamingos. There, the park owners do all they can to conserve the beautiful and delicate birds.
Take a drive through the Karoo, a desert land whose name means ‘Place of Thirst’. There you’ll wonder how anyone survives in the heat and dust. Finally, having worked up a thirst of your own, get a drink at the Halfway House Inn, reputedly the world’s only remaining drive through pub!