Kimberely’s Big Hole

Kimberley South Africa, Big Hole’s history

Just 150 years ago, the site of [Kimberley’s Big Hole diamond mine was nothing more than an everyday, flat-topped hill. Today, the famed site owns the title of largest man-made excavation in the world and features a colossal 214-meter hole from which over 2722 kilograms of diamonds have been extracted.

At its peak during the late 1800’s, the Big Hole was the biggest diamond mining location in South Africa and there are currently efforts to register the Big Hole as a world heritage site due to its cultural and historic significance.

Around the time the Big Hole’s first diamonds were discovered, thousands of claims popped up as would-be miners rushed from their respective corners of the world to make their millions in priceless diamonds. With digging commencing in 1871, the once-lonely hilltop soon saw millions of tons of ore removed as hopeful mine diggers rummaged hundreds of metres underground to find their fortune.

Owing to an investment by De Beers Consolidated Mines, the Big Hole is now a world-class tourist destination which draws visitors from all corners of the globe. While no longer an opulent den dotted with valuable diamonds, the Big Hole functions as an intriguing open-air visitor experience surrounded by original buildings hailing from the diamond-rush heyday.

A world-class luxury train experience

A gem awaits passengers as they approach the Big Hole, the main tourist attraction in South Africa’s Northern Cape. The Big Hole is a highlight on three of Rovos Rail’s trips and offers visitors a unique experience at the world’s most iconic diamond mines.

The transnational, two-week long Dar Es Salaam journey travels through Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and is one of Rovos Rail’s most popular journeys.

In addition, the Cape Town and Namibia Safari journeys also travel through Kimberley and visitors on all of these trips can enjoy informative tours of the Big Hole, the Diamond Museum and the older part of the city. Find out more about these trips here.

While the Big Hole remains the prime pulling point for visitors, the surrounding area is scattered with a number of attractions and is the perfect way to spend your stop in one of South Africa’s most historic cities.

The Diamond Museum in particular is well worth a visit. The museum is designed to give visitors an idea as to what life was like during Kimberly’s historic heyday. The open-air experience whisks spectators away on a journey to the indulgent days of the diamond rush while providing insight into diamonds, diamond mining and the processing of rough diamonds.

Discovering how diamonds are transformed from a rough cut to the exquisite engagement ring in a jeweller’s window is just one of the multi-faceted facts visitors will learn on the tour.

A bustling bar and coffee shop offer passengers comfortable convenience, providing a spot to sit and sip on a hot drink. A jewellery and curio shop allow for a luxurious retail experience where serious shoppers may even find the diamond of their heart’s desire. Find out more about what’s on offer on the Big Hole’s website.

Undoubtedly one of the many highlights on Rovos Rail’s African rail tours, the Big Hole provides the loyal residents of Kimberley with a lasting legacy. And for visitors, perhaps a sparkling souvenir or two to commemorate their luxury train journey will help cement this unforgettable experience in the memory. What are you waiting for, book your journey now!