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
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.