The country that we know today as South Africa has a history that is as old as the continent itself. With each new archaeological discovery, it is becoming increasingly clear that this sub-Saharan nation was once the place where human life took its first faltering steps. The origin of man is written in the many unique fossil finds that have surfaced in the region. These include the famed “Mrs Ples”; a specimen of Australopithecus africanus thought to be more than 2.3 million years old, and the more recent find, Homo naledi, which has sparked the belief that these primitive humans may have buried their dead.
Rock Art Tours South Africa
Elsewhere, the ruins of ancient settlements tell of a drive to develop, while their widespread locations confirm an urge to explore and expand that is thought to have sparked a steady migration throughout the globe. Once established in communities, early societies tend to look beyond the need for hunting and gathering, to embrace more artistic pursuits and, once again, South Africa boasts one of the most extensive collections of rock art in the world – a factor that has turned many such sites into cultural tourism hotspots. With more than 2 500 sites discovered to date, the enthusiasts are spoiled for choice.
By far the most prolific among these artists were the Bushmen tribes. Examples of their work are to be found nationwide, but especially in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Free State and all three provinces of the Cape, as well as in the northernmost province of Limpopo. In recent years, the latter has become a major destination for locals and visitors to South Africa interested in enjoying a rock art tour. Bordering Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the province lies on the tropic of Capricorn and features the Makgabeng Plateau, a part of the much larger Vhembe Biosphere Reserve declared by UNESCO in 2009. It is on this plateau that the most unique of the country’s sites is to be found.
Its exclusivity arises from the fact that it is the only location in South Africa where examples of the creations of the Khoikhoi and San tribes, as well as those of the Tswana-speaking Hananwa people who still inhabit the area, may be experienced in such close proximity. The many well-preserved sites and the cultural diversity that they represent have served to make Makgabeng one of South Africa’s favourite destinations for rock art tours.
To savour these sites and explore their pictorial history in detail takes time and it is an advantage to find accommodation nearby. Of the various lodges in the region, none can offer the cultural tourist more convenience than our Makgabeng Farm Lodge. Guests may stay at the lodge itself in either a thatched Hananwa chalet or farmhouse suite, each with en-suite facilities, air conditioning, DStv and internet access. Here they can enjoy excellent local cuisine and cool off in the pool. For those who may prefer to spend their nights under canvas, the lodge also offers a well-appointed campsite on the very doorstep of this fascinating primitive art gallery.
As well as being an ideal destination for rock art tours in South Africa, the plateau provides numerous additional attractions, including a wide diversity of flora and fauna, hiking trails and much more.