South Africa Rock Art

Rock art is a ubiquitous phenomenon that was embraced by most early cultures. Many thousands of examples of these primitive endeavours are to be found throughout all of the world’s continents, with the possible exception of Antarctica where the climatic conditions don’t really favour extensive archaeological digs. Although intensive studies tend to suggest that much of this work was created to form part of a ritual of one kind or another, it also seems likely that certain works may have been intended to chronicle particular events, while yet others may even have been crafted purely at the whim of their ancient artists.

Ancient Rock Art is a Phenomenon that Fascinates Tourists Worldwide

Whatever the case, all rock art occurs in one of three basic forms. When carved into the surface of a cave or cliff face, the resulting designs are known as petroglyphs, while those engraved into the ground are classified, appropriately as earth figures. In South Africa, the bulk of the ancient artwork discovered so far consists of figures painted on to a rocky surface and these are known as pictographs. While some appear to tell a story, others are abstract and their significance continues to elude archaeologists. That many have their roots in mysticism, whether magical or religious, is certain and some still retain a strong spiritual significance among the indigenous populations.

Rock art is particularly prevalent on the African continent, with many fine examples to be found in Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. By far the greatest concentration, however, is to be found in South Africa, where examples may be seen in the northern, eastern and southern regions of the Western Cape, as well as in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.

It is, however, the extreme north of the country that holds the record with well over a thousand individual sites to its credit. The Limpopo province and the Makgabeng Plateau, in particular, has now become a major centre of cultural tourism. It is not the awesome rock art alone that draws tourists from all over the world to these parts in search of their roots, however. Makgabeng is a place of great natural beauty and abundant wildlife, while the Blouberg Mountains that tower above the plateau are an irresistible magnet for the world’s climbers, many of whom wish to test their skills and stamina in an assault on the 350 metre sheer face known as the “Moonshadow”.

To best enjoy the region and all that it has to offer takes time, and so some form of accommodation is essential. The area has several campsites with the basics for a day or two’s stay to view the rock art or you could try our lodge. Offering the best of both worlds, our Makgabeng Farm Lodge provides the option to enjoy the comforts of home with a choice of a traditional thatched chalet or a larger farmhouse suite. Both are air conditioned, with an en-suite bathroom/shower, fridge and a tea/coffee station, topped off with internet access and 8 DStv channels. A pool and restaurant are available to our guests to take their pick of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Game drives and other tours are offered from the lodge and these include the option to enjoy a couple of nights at our dedicated Makgabeng Rock Art Camp.