Bushman Art Explorations: Get in touch with your rock art heritage

2016-09-04 20:00
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The thing about being a nomadic people means there often is very little trace of your existence. However, The Khoisan and Bushmen tribes of South Africa have left an indelible impression with  their exceptional rock art scattered across the country.

From the Drakensberg through to the Cederberg, our fascination with imagery that showcases our antics and aspirations are there for those willing to make the trek in order to experience and appreciate it. 

SEE: 13 Heritage Day events to make you feel proudly South African

The Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal boast the greatest concentration of San Bushman rock art in South Africa, much of it in remote, supremely beautiful surroundings, while Bushman's Kloofs Wilderness Reserve is a National Heritage Site, because of its spectacular San paintings and the fact that it is part of the Cape Floral region.

Here are our top seven suggestions for getting in touch with your inner-rock star heritage. 

ALSO SEE: Makhonjwa Barberton Mountains confirmed as SA's newest World Heritage Site

Game Pass Shelter, Kamberg, Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal

This site forms part of the Kamberg San Rock Art Trail in the scenic Drakensberg mountain range, the first place where rock are was discovered in SA. The trail includes an informative Interpretive Centre.  The Kamberg Nature Reserve is part of the famous Midlands Meander just outside Pietermaritzburg.  Other activities in the area include Karkloof Canopy Tours andSA's longest Canopy Tour, Abseiling off the Howick Falls 107 m.



Main Caves, Giant's Castle, Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal

The Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal boast the greatest concentration of San Bushman rock art in South Africa and some of it will require fit and able bodies in order to see it in the remote yet utterly beautiful surroundings.

They images depict the revered eland antelope, human figures and therianthropes or the metamorphosis from human to animal.

Head to the open-air Bushman Cave Museum in the Giant's Castle Reserve, established in 1903 and run by KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation - this requires only a short walk to the cave, which features 500 rock paintings, some of which are estimated to be around 800 years old.  

Other attractions in the area include The Drakensberg Boys' Choir performs at the Choir School in Champagne Valley as well as horseriding at Spionkop Nature Reserve.

SEE: SA's 10 most endangered cultural heritage sites revealed


Bushmans Kloof, Pakhuis Pass, Clanwilliam, Western Cape

The Bushmans Kloof rock art site is a National Heritage Site that forms part of the Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, about 50km from Clanwilliam and 270km north of Cape Town. Also forming part of the Cape Floral region there are more than 130 sites of San Rock Art at this Cederberg site, some of them 10 000 years old. 

A truly unique experience, the southern Cederberg's Kagga Kamma is home to some of the last Bushman families of the North-Western Cape, most of whom had been exterminated by 1910, butvisitors can meet with them and see their fire-making and bead-making skills.  Added to this there are about 30 of the endangered Cape mountain zebra found here, of which only about 1 200 remain worldwide.

As part of the Wilderness reserve, guests of the five-star Bushman's Kloof retreat can enjoy daily excursions to discover the caves and rock art sites accompanied by trained guides. 



Sevilla Trail, Pakhuis Pass, Clanwilliam, Western Cape

This 7km trail allows you to experiencce 10 rather special sites. The Sevilla Rock Art Trail, which starts about 36km from Clanwilliam, at Traveller's Rest Guest Farm on the road to Wupperthal on along the Brandewyn River is not too strenuous and lasts about two to three hours across 4km. Adding the final 10th site increases the length of the walk to 7km. You can buy the necessary permit and trail map at the Clanwilliam Tourist Bureau.  Being in a World Heritage Site, and no one may camp or hike in the area without a permit.

These paintings are estimated to be between 8 000 and 800 years old, and there are around 2 500 paintings in the Cederberg. Visitors can stay at Traveller's Rest has 12 cottages, spread over a huge area in wide open settings. The cottages are simple yet well-equipped.

SEE: Exploring Khoisan heritage and the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape



Wonderwerk, Kuruman, Northern Cape

Situated in the Kuruman Hills between Danielskuil and Kuruman in the Northern Cape, this cave has long record of human history in excess of 800 000 years. In 2008 stone tools some two million year-old were excavated at Wonderwerk Cave (Afrikaans for 'miracle cave'). The site provides the earliest evidence of cave-dwelling ancestors.   

This prehistoric cave is open to the public with certain areas cordoned off for research and conservation purposes. There are wheelchair-friendly cave walkways for visitors as well as an information and exhibition centre.



(Source: SouthAfrica.net)

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