The San people are invariably top of mind upon mere mention of the words “rock art” in South Africa, but did you know that this country’s ancient rock paintings also include the artwork of other early inhabitants?
The Best Rock Art Tours in South Africa
If seeing as much of South Africa’s indigenous rock art as possible is on your bucket list, you owe it to yourself to visit the Soutpansberg, Blouberg, Makgabeng and Mapungubwe (UNESCO) World Heritage site, all found within the country’s Limpopo province.
Without the presence of substantial rock formations and mountains, it’s unlikely South Africa’s ancient inhabitants would have had suitable surfaces on which to record their beliefs, lifestyles and the animals amongst which they existed. So, if you want to find rock art, you must head to the mountains.
The Soutpansberg is a mountain range located in the northern part of Limpopo. The extent of its rock art was relatively unknown until the early 1990s. The beautiful Blouberg forms part of the Soutpansberg range in the Makgabeng Plateau area, which is home to a wide variety of tree species and, therefore, an enormous population of diverse bird species – a paradise for bird watchers and photographers. The largest Cape vulture breeding population is found here.
Besides achieving heritage status, Mapungubwe was once an Iron Age city. Its name means “hill of the jackal”. According to archaeologists, this kingdom was exceptionally large. It was an important gold and ivory trading partner of China, Egypt and India from approximately 1200 – 1400 AD. No one knows who Mapungubwe’s inhabitants were or what became of them.
Soutpansberg/Makgabeng Rock Art
Makgabeng Farm Lodge is situated on the plateau of the same name, close to the Blouberg. We’re known for having some of the best examples of ancient rock art in South Africa; hence, our rock art tours are among the very best on offer in the entire country – a definite inclusion on your must-do experiences.
Soutpansberg rock art, including that of the Blouberg/Makgabeng, consists of engravings (in the central Limpopo basin) and paintings. Three types of paintings have been found, each associated with a specific culture and period.
San rock painting was accomplished with a brush and mixed pigments, and typically featured male and female figures, animals and hunting scenes, religious matters and sometimes, abstract forms. Khoekhoe and North Sotho peoples applied their paint with their fingers. The former used mainly red pigment, while the latter preferred white.
Ancient San culture was one of peace, and living intimately close to nature and all the bounty which it provided. They only took what they needed from the land and its creatures, nothing more, and they wasted nothing. These simple hunter-gatherers were always concerned about leaving enough behind for the earth and others who would come after them.
Sadly, they were all but exterminated by tribes and settlers who arrived later. However, mankind is fortunate that they recorded much of their lives in rock art, an invaluable part of South Africa’s fascinating and ancient heritage.
The Best Location for the Best Rock Art Tours
We invite you make your accommodation reservation with us at our award-winning Makgabeng Farm Lodge, where you’ll be in the best location to undertake your tour of some of South Africa’s best surviving rock artworks, whilst enjoying warm, sincere hospitality, and our excellent service.