Rock Art at Kamberg Reserve, Drakensberg Mts

We reach the Kamberg Reserve, located in a wide valley flanked by dry grassy bluffs. The occasional dormant tree fern is one of the few indications that this area is not always as arid as it appears on this late September morning.

At 10:30AM we are the only tourists at the Kamberg Rock Art Site, thus a guide needs to be called to lead us on the hike up to the cave. This time of year they only see a few groups of visitors each week.

On a bright sunny day with a soft haze in the air we first stop at a waterfall cave where San people used to live. A sizable cave behind what would be a powerful waterfall but in dry season has been reduced to the pressure of a good shower head.

Down the hill we cross a river tumbling down a steep incline creating a series of cascading waterfalls. Our guide Norman, a genial young man from the local village, stops to drink and refill his canteen, explaining with pride that this is the purest spring water.

From here it’s a steep climb up to a rock outcropping at the top of the cliff where the San people worshiped.

With some effort we reach the top and as we stop to catch our breath, Norman unlocks the gate and leads us into the restricted rock art site area.

One more short steep climb and we are face to face with the impressive paintings located in not quite a cave, but rather, a recessed area of the cliff face.

The numerous vivid figures,  mostly of eland, hunters and shaman, fill a broad expanse of the stone wall.

Some of the more intricate paintings show details such as the fur of the shaman’s eland wrap. It is generally believe that this site was in use 2000 years ago, however, over the centuries new paintings have been layered on top of old ones making it impossible to know exactly how far they really go back.

General Hiking Info

They tell you to allow three hours for the round trip hike including viewing the paintings. Most of the hour to hour and half walk up winds around the hills and is not too strenuous, however, a few sections near the top are quite steep. Going down takes about 45 minutes to hour. Last trip up is about 12:30PM.

The Kamberg Reserve also has several small trout fishing lakes. On this Thursday afternoon we had the picnic area next to one of the lakes to ourselves. A thunderstorm threatened from the south, but nothing more than a few distant bolts ever materialized.

September 29, 2011

For links to all the posts in this series see the South Africa page.