Colesberg, Upper Karoo

Immerse yourself in the utter tranquillity of the Karoo when you stay overnight in Colesberg, where the pace is slower and the magic of the South African experience can be savoured.

This quiet Karoo town which serves a thriving horse and sheep stud district, has retained a few interesting reminders of the past. When visiting Colesberg, make a point of visiting the old horse-driven mill pub, the quaint Cape Karoo cottages in Bell Street and the Kemper Museum, which includes a section on the Anglo-Boer War.

The Karoo is famous for its wide open spaces and healthy climate. Colesberg has a rich history closely linked with to the legendary characters of South Africa's diamond industry. John O'Reiley, who purchased the first diamond found in South Africa from its owner, Schalk van Niekerk, and took it to Colesberg for testing. It was used to scratch "DP", the initials of Draper and Plewman, a store which still exists, on the shop's window. Once the stone passed this test. it was sent to Dr Guybourne Atherstone, a well-known geologist. He confirmed it was a diamond and so started The Diamond Rush.

Colesberg lies in typical Karoo veld and is surrounded by koppies (little hills). The most famous is Coleskop, which can be seen from a distance of over 40km. Early travellers called it "Towerberg" ("Magic Mountain"). Exploring these koppies in the area is an archaeological delight. These reveal stone-age artefacts and other interesting fragments of the past. Those who enjoy the Great Outdoors of the Great Karoo will also enjoy studying the fauna and flora of the veld around the town. Other Attractions in Colesberg include The Karoo Ostrich Farm, Doornkloof Nature Reserve.

Colesberg has several national monuments, one of which is the Colesberg-Kemper Museum. A fine example of 19th century Karoo architecture, it originally was the Colesberg Bank and later the Standard Bank. It now houses fascinating relics of the town's rich tapestry of history.

This museum started in 1924 when G L Kemper donated his collection of artefacts to the municipality. It has grown into a valuable local cultural history museum. Among its exhibits is a collection of fossils dating back to the first reptiles which inhabited this area and a permanent photographic display, compiled by UNISA, on the Karoo Nomads - (the donkey ‘karretjie' people).

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