Kimberley has always been about The Big Hole, but there’s more to the capital of the Northern Cape than just mining magnates. By Peter Frost
1. Out and about
The Big Hole
De Beers’ gift to Kimberley in 2005 after it shut up shop was a rejuvenated Big Hole experience. You can now visit an interactive museum featuring a spectacular visitors’ centre with cutting-edge architecture (an amazing cantilevered platform over the hole is the highlight) and various shops; as well as a spruced-up Old Town, complete with historical buildings, a diamond dig to try your hand at and a working tram. Have lunch at the Australian Arms, established in 1873 and now a guest house.
Tucker Street, CBD, 053 839 4600, www.thebighole.co.za
2. Out and about
Flamingo Casino & Kamfers Dam
Next to the Kimberley Golf Club (good for a drink under the trees), the Flamingo Casino is fun for a flutter, but the real attraction is behind it. Kamfers Dam is an important breeding ground for the lesser flamingo and the flocks – in their thousands – are a spectacular sight at sunset. Ask at the casino about access to the dam and remember to pack your binoculars, as flooded roads mean you may not be able to get right up close.
Phakamile Mabija Road (on the N12 to Johannesburg), 053 830 2600
3. Out and about
Kimberley’s grand old Victorian houses are simply asking to be admired; get a map from Veronica Bruce at Ronnie’s Tour Guiding or have her show you the sights herself. The Belgravia Historical Walk (one of several tours on the useful Kimberley Meander site) also notes all the best homes. End off the tour high up in the Honoured Dead Memorial with a sundowner, overlooking the town (you can arrange this with Veronica too).
Ronnie’s Tour Guiding, 083 611 6497
Kimberley Meander, www.kimberleymeander.co.za
4. Eat and drink
Indulge in dinner at Butler’s, arguably Kimberley’s finest restaurant, set in the historical Victorian-mansion-turned-boutique-hotel of The Estate. Executive chef Daniel Williams also runs a chefs’ school from here. As you go in, take a look across the road at Dunluce, one of Kimberley’s grandest buildings, once the home of department-store founder John Orr.
7 Lodge Street, Belgravia, 053 832 2668, www.theestate.co.za
5. Eat and drink
The Kimberley Club
This distinguished old establishment, founded by Cecil John Rhodes in 1881 as a gentlemen’s club, is now open to the public for accommodation and fine dining. Savour a gin and tonic in the club’s bar, which boasts all manner of diamond-field memorabilia. Then stay on for dinner; The Rhodes Room Grill offers a silver-service experience that simply oozes elegance.
72 Du Toitspan Road, CBD, 053 832 4224, www.kimberleyclub.co.za
6. Eat and drink
The Halfway House Hotel
Have a relaxed brew under the stars at the Halfway House Hotel, known by everyone as The Half. Established in 1872, it’s still the town’s favourite meeting place, having survived years of competition from trendy newcomers and, more recently, the malls. The balcony upstairs is very popular, as is the rather more upmarket Annabell’s Restaurant alongside, offering excellent food and a smart ambience.
229 Du Toitspan Road, Belgravia, 053 831 6324, www.halfwayhousehotel.co.za
7. Out and about
This treasure trove on the outskirts of town is far bigger than most junk shops and loads of fun. It’s huge, with furniture, glassware, crockery and antiques in abundance. There’s also a tea room for when you’ve sated your retail passions.
Memorial Road (on the N12 to Cape Town, near the Engen garage), 053 831 1767
AAQA Quality Assured accommodation in Kimberley
Oleander Guest House
(AA Quality Assured Superior status)
As you may expect, the distinguishing feature of this grand establishment is the oleander tree. At 10m tall, it’s said to be the biggest of its type in South Africa and almost the same age as the 100-year-old house.
With its Oregon-pine floors and pressed-steel ceilings, this majestic Edwardian home provides a warm welcome. It has six spacious en-suite rooms, each stylishly furnished with antiques. The beautiful gardens and 12m swimming pool are enticing when the weather’s warm, or you can cuddle up in the anthracite-heated lounge in the winter months.
Home-grown, organic produce is utilised in the meals, which can be enjoyed in the formal dining room, on the outdoor terrace or out on the wooden deck. A full English breakfast is included.
28 Carrington Street, Belgravia, 053 832 7088, www.oleander.co.za
Mattanu Private Game Reserve
(AA Quality Assured Superior status)
Mattanu is situated 50 km north-west of Kimberley, but the destination is well worth the drive. Stylish safari tents and a thatched-roof suite offer luxurious, upmarket accommodation. The tents, set in the shade of camel thorn trees, all have air conditioning and private decks overlooking a waterhole.
The 2 900 ha game reserve itself presents outstanding game-viewing in this unique, arid Northern Cape setting. Roan and sable antelope were imported to the reserve in the early ’90s and now nearly 40 species and roughly 700 individual animals inhabit Mattanu Reserve. The owner, JC Kriek, is regarded as a pioneer in the breeding of rare antelope.
A new R44 helicopter gives visitors the opportunity to experience game viewing, fly-fishing trips, game-capture safaris, paintball adventures, bushveld dinners and transfers.
Besides the plush accommodation, the lodge features conference facilities and a wedding venue.
083 235 1993, www.mattanu.com
Photography Gallo/Gettyimages, Alamy
(This article was first published in the autumn 2014 issue of AA traveller magazine)