Much like the residents of Pisa in Italy, the good folk of Kimberly in South Africa have decided that there should be absolutely no room for interpretation in the naming of their tourist attractions. And it was with this guidance that we headed out to see The Big Hole.
We were not disappointed with the centerpiece of this town even before learning that, astonishingly, this crater had been dug by hand, in the search for diamonds. There is a twee Disneyland-type village around the Big Hole that attempts to recreate the town life and trading posts that would have previously existed, though thankfully without the carefree visitor having to experience what were no doubt the horrific working conditions of pioneer open pit mining. This hole and this town has played a pretty significant role in South Africa’s recent history and whatever your views may be on the cast of characters who made their fortunes here during the diamond rush of the late 19th Century, there is no doubt that this relatively small part of the country played a disproportionately big role in its future.
Kimberley represented the final stop on our cross-country transition before heading into the peaceful serenity of South Africa’s newest national park; Mokala. The keen followers of this blog will both be aware of the camping challenges we faced during our time in the Wildcoast, and so it was with much relief that Mokala made life about as easy as possible for us on this front. The wind was non-existent, the daytime skies were cloudless and the nighttime skies were spectacular; this was camping but not as we knew it. Had we conjured up ideas of how this trip would play out, then this is about as close as we’ve got to it so far. Don’t be fooled though. Anyone with a troupe of similar aged children might be reassured to know that despite the overwhelmingly pleasant setting in which we found ourselves, we were still being run ragged by these delightful little cherubs. We have now learnt that it can be particularly tricky keeping everyone entertained in the bush and despite exhausting every storybook, playing out every possible sequence of snakes & ladders, and having seemingly spotted every single animal in the park, it was the value of a gin and tonic that really became apparent during this stay.
Thankfully though, the long uneventful roads of the Northern Cape sent everyone into a deep midday slumber today which gave us some time to consolidate our position and align strategies for the next leg. Before they all woke up again.