South Africa has plenty of sites saturated in ancient rock art. Here are the best places to see rock art:
Cederberg, Western Cape With hundreds of caves dotted all over the Cederberg, Bushman’s Kloof is one of the best places to view ancient Khoi-San rock art. A 3 hour drive away from Cape Town, you will find a wilderness of exceptional rock art. There have been over 2500 rock art sites discovered in the Cederberg area. You can choose to explore the area on your own, or go with an experienced tour guide. There are several sites situated conveniently close to the road, but the best ones will require a bit of a climb.
Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal The Drakensberg, meaning “Dragon Mountainsâ€ in Afrikaans, holds over 35 000 individual rock art paintings at 600 different sites (the most concentrated collection of rock paintings in South Africa!) The rock paintings appear in sandstone caves, and the porous stone as well as overhanging rocks have helped to preserve them.
Cape Town, Western Cape A short climb up the dunes will lead you to Peers Cave in Fish Hoek. Here, you will be able to see some ancient rock art splattered on the walls of an age old cave. In 1927, an archaeologist called Victor Peers and his son Bertie, discovered several rock paintings, ancient stone tools and weapons, and the remains of 9 people, while excavating this cave which was then known as “Skildergatâ€. The ancient skeletons that are believed to have been around for the last 120 000 years, are now referred to collectively as “Fish Hoek Manâ€. You can organise a guided walk through the Fish Hoek Valley museum, or choose to go in a group.
Aliwal North, Eastern Cape The Eastern Cape Mountains are riddled with caves that hold many alluring stories of a lost culture. The Kalkoenskrans Rock Art site was the first rock painting site to be declared a National Monument in South Africa. The vast variety and detail in the paintings make it a superb spot to view South African rock art. You’ll see the famous “White Lady of Kalkoenskransâ€ which was discovered in 1967, as well as paintings of stick figures, the infamous Elands, as well as bushman dances, and rituals. If you are visiting the Kalkoenkrans rock art site, be aware that pre-booking is essential. You will get a guided tour, as well as an informed description of what each piece of art represents.
Plooysburg, Northern Cape Driekops Eiland, meaning “three hills islandâ€ in Afrikaans, is a rock engraving site near Plooysburg in the Northern Cape. Thousands of geometric patterns have been carved into the riverbed, part of a recently identified rock art tradition in Southern Africa. What makes the rock art site so unique is that the shapes involve very little images of animals and humans, which are so apparent in the rock paintings of the Khoi San. Prominent shapes include sunbursts, circles, grids, and crisscrossing lines.
South Africa is a diverse and gratifying place to explore. So pack your bags, and prepare for a unique and enjoyable rock art adventure.