The Big Hole

Kimberley’s Big Hole is an entirely man-made structure; the largest hand-dug excavation in the world

Northern Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Big Hole

A trip to the Northern Cape Province would be incomplete without a detour to include the Big Hole in Kimberley; it is an opportunity not to be missed. What began as a flat-topped hill is today a gaping hole measuring 215 metres deep, with a surface area of 17 hectares and a perimeter of 1.6 kilometres.

Where? 121 Bultfontein Road, Civic Centre, Kimberley, Northern Cape

When? Open daily

How? Call +27 (0)53 830-6272

Overnight? See Kimberley accommodation, in Northern Cape

What makes Kimberley’s Big Hole that much more interesting is that it is an entirely man-made structure; the largest hand-dug excavation in the world.

It all began as far back as 1866 when a man called Erasmus Jacobs found what he took for a shiny pebble on the Orange River banks. To cut a long story short, it was later sold in London, after it was determined to be a 21.25 carat diamond, for £500. After a further two diamonds were found in the area, a diamond rush ensued and miners arrived in their thousands. The hill disappeared in a flurry of prospection, as picks and shovels yielded 2 722 kilograms of diamonds.

The underground mine at Kimberley reaches a depth of 1097 metres. Underground operations at the Kimberley mines have only recently closed, and the Big Hole has had a massive upgrade to turn it into a tourist experience.

Now visitors can go underground in a recreation of a mine shaft of the period, watch a film that introduces one to diamonds in Kimberley, visit an exhibition centre, take in a diamond display, use the new viewing platform that allows one to get a bird’s eye view of the Big Hole from above, and visit the Old Town to see Kimberley in its heyday.

Popular Activities in or near The Big Hole

Diggers Memorial


The Diggers’ Memorial is one of the monuments that constitute part of this heritage, contributing to it in an important way. It depicts five life-sized miners holding up a diamond sieve, high above their heads. Their strength and power is...

More info and contact details: Diggers Memorial

Kimberley Mine Museum


Situated next to The Big Hole, this open-air museum (one of the finest in the world) depicts Kimberley in its Victorian heyday during the diamond rush. The Mine Museum incorporates shops and houses, a church, diggers' tavern, Barney...

More info and contact details: Kimberley Mine Museum

Did you know?

Digging commenced at the Kimberley mine site in 1871. By the time mining ended on 14 August 1914, the mine had yielded 2722 kilograms of diamonds, extracted from 22,5 million tons of excavated earth. (Reference: De Beers).

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