Kimberley, with its fevered diamond rush in the 1870s, has a glittering past and present. Take the world's only guided tour of an operational diamond mine, which descends a staggering 840m below the earth. For those who prefer being above ground, visit the city's glittering choice of jewellery stores. Birders will find a large flamingo breeding colony at the Kamfer Dam outside Kimberley.
Kimberley, the capital of South Africa's Northern Province is known as the diamond city.
Start your adventure here with its main attraction the Big Hole. Take a tram ride from the City Hall and head straight for the Big Hole. Imagine a hand-dug hole the size of eight football fields and you have some idea of the labour that went into creating the Big Hole. Adjacent to the Big Hole is the Mine Museum, which is an exact replica of the city in the frenetic days of the diamond rush. If you are not claustrophobic take the world's only guided tour of an operational diamond mine which descends a staggering 840 metres below the earth.
A few kilometers from the city centre lies Kimberley's oldest residential suburb, Belgravia, which dates back to the 1870s. These homes were built at the peak of diamond trade. This is the place where South Africa mining dynasty's patriarch, Harry Oppenheimer, was born. It's said that there once was more millionaires per area in this place than anywhere else in the world.
Kimberley is probably the only place in the country which has a unique blend of ancient African art and some early European art. The Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre and !Xun & Khwe Kamatoka Shop showcases contemporary San paintings, rock art movie and a walk back through time. Not far from it is the William Humphreys Art Gallery. The gallery is South Africa's only Grade 1 art gallery specialising in South African artists and offering a fine collection of the 16th and 17th century Flemish, Dutch, English and French masters.
Being the diamond capital of the world, Kimberley is known for its exquisite jewellery that is often individually crafted offering you a precious personalised memento of your trip to Kimberley.
How to get here
You can fly directly to Kimberley Airport Alternatively Kimberley has two national roads leading to it, the N12 (Cape Town via the N1 to the south and Pretoria/Johannesburg to the north) and the N8 going east to west.
Best time to visit
The cooler months in spring (August, September) and Autumn (March, April) are recommended
Where to stay
Kimberley has a large number of hotels and guest houses offering an excellent variety to suit each pocket.
Around the area
Grab a taste of Southern Africa's pastoral life at the world famous Duggan-Cronin Gallery which displays a collection of 8 000 priceless ethnographic photographs taken on expeditions into rural Southern Africa between 1919 and 1939.
Tours to do
You would not have completed a Kimberley tour without visiting any of the city's surrounding townships. Kimberley's townships are a unique mix of many different South African cultures, including the San people. Visit Galeshewe township, just a few kilometres outside the city. This is one of the oldest townships in South Africa, created at the outset of the diamond rush in the early 1870s.