Rock Art Tourism

Rock art tourism has been growing steadily in popularity for a number of years, as both residents and overseas visitors have started to develop a greater interest in the early origins of man and the rise of civilisation. Research undertaken by archaeologists and geneticists has left us in no doubt that it was on the African continent that the first hominids emerged and so the origin of all human beings, regardless of race or ethnicity, is to be found among its hills and its plains.

Unique Rock Art Tourism Experience in the Mapungubwe National Park

Rock art tourism has been growing steadily in popularity for a number of years, as both residents and overseas visitors have started to develop a greater interest in the early origins of man and the rise of civilisation. Research undertaken by archaeologists and geneticists has left us in no doubt that it was on the African continent that the first hominids emerged and so the origin of all human beings, regardless of race or ethnicity, is to be found among its hills and its plains.

Given this crucial evolutionary role, it is not surprising that South Africa is replete with the evidence of early human habitation and is also the best destination for rock art tourism in the world. Although, the people of those times would have needed to remain constantly vigilant just to survive and spend most of their waking hours hunting game and gathering edible plants and berries, it appears that some still found time for more aesthetic pursuits. Perhaps, after a successful hunt or the completion of a religious ritual, he or she may have felt the need to record the event. Lacking any form of written language, a picture, as we are often told, can relate a thousand words. In this case, they have continued to do so for as many years.

South Africa offers many locations in which to pursue rock art tourism and hundreds of well-preserved examples of these primitive, pictorial histories are to be seen in several of the country’s nine provinces. The regions that are best known for these paintings and for other artefacts left by early man are Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western, Eastern and Northern provinces of the Cape.

Locally, these painted records are the work of three main groups – the San, the Khoikhoi and the Northern Sotho-speaking Bahananwa people, and each is readily identified by its own distinctive style. As one might expect, the works of each tribe tend to be confined to their main habitats. However, making it a haven for rock art tourism, one notable exception to this regional distribution is the Makgabeng Plateau. Not only does the area boast a total of more than eight hundred sites, but it also has one feature that makes it quite unique. The plateau is the only place in South Africa where examples of artwork by all three of the above groups may be viewed in close proximity to one another.

The park is also home to its very own lost city – a site once occupied by Iron Age settlers and where archaeological evidence has revealed that an African Kingdom, grown wealthy from international trade, thrived until the late 13th century.

To fully enjoy your rock art tourism experience and explore this magnificent park with its wealth of natural beauty, history and biodiversity, it will require several excursions and so finding the right accommodation will be a priority. You will, no doubt, wish to be conveniently close to the places of most interest and while some may want a more rustic stay, others will prefer their home comforts.

At Makgabeng Farm Lodge, we offer excellent facilities for either. The lodge itself offers a more formal lifestyle with the chance to dine in, while the rock art camp embraces tourism under canvas.