Rock art centre sheds light on San

6 June 2002

KwaZulu-Natal’s new Kamberg Rock Art Centre, now open to the public, will help visitors understand and interpret the more than 40 000 San Bushman images to be found in the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park.

Opened by KZN Premier Lionel Mtshali on June 4, the centre is situated in the Kamberg Nature Reserve, near to the Game Pass Shelter.

It is here that the “Rosetta Stone” of San art first provided archaeologists with the key to interpreting the symbolism of the paintings as spiritual in content – showing how hunters gained power from the animals that they killed.

The Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is a World Heritage Site – one of just 23 sites worldwide granted this status on the basis of both natural beauty and cultural significance. The 230 000 hectare protected area contains 500 known sites of San rock art.

The Kamberg San Rock Art Trail and Interpretive Centre together offer visitors information about the world of the San, and the opportunity to walk to Game Pass Shelter to view outstanding examples of their art in the company of a trained community guide.

The San people lived in the Drakensberg area for thousands of years before being exterminated in clashes with the Zulus and white settlers.

A video documentary on the world of the San can be viewed at the centre, which also provides contact with their descendants who still live in the area. The centre offers a range of books, posters and videos for sale, as well as a refreshment kiosk.

The walk from the centre to Game Pass Shelter takes two-and-a-half to three hours via the Waterfall Shelter. The trail and centre cater for a maximum of 10 patrons at a time, with tours run seven days a week. It is recommended that places be booked by phoning Kamberg on (033) 263 7312.

It is also possible to stay at Kamberg Nature Reserve, although the accommodation is presently being renovated. The centre is wheelchair-friendly, although the trail is not; people unable to walk to the shelter can watch a special audio-visual presentation instead.

For more information call (033) 263 7312 or visit the Kamberg Rock Art Centre web site.