5 reasons why Kimberley is perfect for a family holiday

Posted on August 30th, 2019

Planning your next family holiday? Here’s why Kimberley would be a great holiday destination. By René de Klerk

Kimberley, the Northern Cape’s capital city, isn’t a destination that pops up when thinking of a family holiday, but this historic mining town and its surrounds shouldn’t be underestimated. It offers plenty to do within a stone’s throw from the city.

Big Hole Museum and vintage tram ride

People from around the world descended on Kimberley during the diamond rush. It was a time of hope, but only a lucky few shared in the riches. The experience might be a little outdated, but it is the ideal place to take the family back in time.

The Big Hole Museum is an open-air museum, with old car dealers, banks, a church and plenty of shops. The full guided tour gives more insight. Not only does it include a short historic movie, but a guided experience through an old mine set-up complete with explosions − the kids will love it. Mom will love a glimpse at some real diamonds, and the Big Hole is a great place to update those family photos.

After the tour, take the little ones for a ride on the old tram. This formed part of the public transport system in Kimberley and ran from 1897 to the late 1940s. The short ride will take you past the original mining shaft, the Star of the West Bar and the other side of the Big Hole.

Call 053 839 4600 or visit bighole.co.za for more info.

Where to stay:

The New Rush Guesthouse is situated inside the historical mining town. These old corrugated buildings are luxurious on the inside and offer the perfect escape for a family. There are a few options to choose from, and there is 24-hour security available on site.

Call 053 839 4455 or email reservations@debeersgroup.com for more info.

Kimberley - Big hole museum

Mokala National Park

The park is situated approximately 80km south-west of Kimberley and is known as the park where endangered species roam. While species such as roan, sable and tsessebe can be seen in other parks, Mokala has high densities of them. But, the park is also famous for its camel thorn trees. Specimens range from small shrubs barely 2m high to magnificent trees with large spreading crowns. These make brilliant silhouettes at sunset.

Mokala offers guided game drives, excursions to rock engraving sites and bush braais or breakfast under a 400-year-old camel thorn tree. Bookings must be made in advance.

The Lilydale side of the park is home to the Riet River. There are spots set aside for flyfishing, so there’s plenty to keep Dad busy.

Take the family for a meal at the Mosu Restaurant − the meals are delicious and the nearby waterhole attracts plenty of game.

Where to stay:

Mosu Rest Camp has many options available, ranging from units for couples to family chalets. If you haven’t got kids yet, the Kameeldoring Treetop Chalet is a romantic choice.

Call 053 204 8000 or visit sanparks.org for more info.

Mokala National Park

ALSO SEE: 7 tips to make the most of your family bush holiday

Dronfield Nature Reserve

Don’t expect a grand entrance gate or a reception building. This private nature reserve belongs to the De Beers Group and entrance is by appointment only. You announce your arrival at the gate via the handheld radio, enter and head to your unit. Someone will check up on the family after arrival and the team is extremely helpful, but you’re generally on your own to enjoy your natural surroundings. The reserve is home to giraffe, springbok, red hartebeest, gemsbok and blue wildebeest. High-value game like sable, roan and buffalo live in breeding camps. Dronfield is also home to a massive population of white-backed vultures, and carcasses are placed at the vulture hide to feed these critically endangered birds. Kamfers Dam is across the road from the entrance gate and home to a large population of breeding lesser flamingos.

Where to stay:

The reserve has six fully-equipped chalets set among the camel thorn trees.

Call 053 839 4455 or email reservations@debeersgroup.com for more info.

Dronfield Nature Reserve

Rooipoort Nature Reserve

This nature reserve is much like Dronfield and also belongs to De Beers, but is more rugged. In fact, at just over 42 000 hectare, it’s advisable to drive with a guide to prevent getting lost, or to take a radio if you want to do your own exploring.

Rooipoort is home to 14 species of antelope, zebra and giraffe. While there are no dangerous predators, many of their species hold special conservation value. Their ostrich are the only recognised pure flock in South Africa as they were never mixed with imported birds from West Africa during the feather boom in the late 1800s. It’s not the ideal game-viewing destination yet as the reserve has only been focusing on tourism for a few years. As a result, not all the wildlife is habituated to vehicles yet, but luckily there is enough to see on drives.

The kids will love a stop at Bushman’s Fountain. This rocky outcrop isn’t only ideal to stretch the legs, but home to more than 4 000 rock engravings.

Where to stay:

Most of the accommodation options have historic connections. The Shooting Box was built under instruction of Cecil John Rhodes to accommodate hunters to the area. This building can accommodate a large family group of up to 12 people.

Smaller families can stay in one of two cottages in the same complex, which sleep four people each. Older kids will love the old mining implements displayed in the area. The reserve also has eight safari tents which accommodate two people each.

Call 053 839 4455 or email reservations@debeersgroup.com for more info.

Rooipoort Nature Reserve

War history

The Anglo Boer War began on 11 October 1899. Within four days, British soldiers besieged Kimberley. Battles took place at Belmont, Graspan, and Modder River. But the biggest took place at Magersfontein, an event that was a total disaster for the British troops. The Boers made use of trenches and outwitted the English, still visible at the Magersfontein Battlefield Museum today.

But apart from this site, there are plenty in and around town. The Honoured Dead Memorial is one example. This monument is the work of Sir Herbert Baker, commissioned by Cecil John Rhodes. It commemorates the 27 men who lost their lives during the Siege of Kimberley.

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