Rock Art – An opportunity to experience something special
The Drakensberg Mountains, besides their natural beauty, are home to one of the largest art galleries in the world. There are hundreds of painted rock overhangs or shelters, with literally thousands of individual paintings in them. This amazing treasure trove of art was left behind by the Bushmen who inhabited the Drakensberg for at least 10 000 years. Sadly, they are no longer with us, but their paintings are, and they provide not only much beauty and fascination, but also a glimpse of the inner workings of their compassionate and caring society.
All rock art sites which fall within the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park are closed to the casual visitor. They can only be visited by groups accompanied by approved guides. This is to ensure the protection of the art from vandals and ignorant visitors who inadvertantly damage them. Our guides are all accredited, and can not only guide you to one of a number of unspoilt panels, but also fill you in on all the background to the Bushmen their history, lifestyle and culture as well as, the latest thinking on the art. This will greatly add to your understanding and thus your enjoyment of the art.
Our “In the Footsteps of the Bushmen” guided day hikes are an excellent way to learn not only about the Bushmen, but also about the flora, fauna and natural history of the Drakensberg. We offer full day hikes (moderate fitness required) to unspoilt panels of rock art. The hike is about 7km each way with an altitude gain of around 250m.
While the Drakensberg Bushmen are sadly no more, there are other living Bushman communities within South Africa. One of these is the ‡Khomani Bushmen who live in the Northern Cape province, just south of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (now part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park). In tribute to the memory of the artists who painted the rock art we visit, and their now disappeared communities, we take a R30 “levy” from the tour price and put this towards a development project for the Khomani Bushman community. Our funds were initially used to support ”Heritage Picnics”, where elders would instruct young children in tracking and gathering skills which would otherwise be lost. In 2016, a primary school dedicated to the ‡Khomani community was opened. In its second year now, one of its unique features is that a teacher is instructing the children in the Bushman language called N/u. While the original language spoken by Bushman clans in the area was N/u, most ‡Khomani speak Nama and/or Afrikaans, and N/u was almost an extinct language with only a handful of people left alive who could speak it. Dia Vaalbooi, who learnt N/u from her grandmother, is the teacher and our contributions will be used to fund her salary. A noble cause indeed, helping to save a language!!
We have introduced a new way to further support the ‡Khomani Bushmen and to add value to clients’ experience by adding in to the trip a small, authentic Bushman momento, a small craft item produced by the ‡Khomani Bushmen and which is included in the tour price.
Click here to see where your money goes and a background to this fascinating community and their inspiring story. You can also go on this Rock Art guided hike as part of the special packages deals.
SEE HOW YOUR VISIT EMPOWERS LOCAL COMMUNITIES