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Central Drakensberg - Bushman Rock Art

The Central Drakensberg offers a large selection of Bushman Rock Art site.

The Central Drakensberg area is a rich source of Bushman Rock art with some caves containing several hundred of these beautiful works of art offering a large activities and attractions for you to part take in. The Central Drakensberg mountains contain thousands of Bushman Rock Art sites, evidence of the small, primitive San people who practiced a prehistoric life style in the area long ago. The earliest of these paintings are about 3000 years old, and the golden age of the painters was between 400 and 200 years ago.

bushman rock art at main caves giants castle- Main Caves at Giants Castle . The Main Caves is a large sandstone cave containing prehistoric San rock art. This cave is one of the biggest and best preserved painted sites in southern Africa. This cave is an easy 30 minute walk from the camp office and regular guided tours are taken through this unique exhibition from 09h00 to 15h00 daily for a small fee. A visit to Giant's Castle offers the privilege of entering the world of the San as well as the opportunity to study a varied and exciting range of habitats.

bushman rock art at game pass shelter kamberg- Game Pass Shelter at Kamberg . The Game Pass Shelter is commonly referred to as the "Rosetta Stone" of southern African rock art, for it was here that archaeologists first uncovered a vital key to understanding the symbolism of San rock art. This site is special for so many reasons. It was one of the first sites ever to be seen by Europeans and appeared in the Scientific American in 1915. It was the first South African rock art site to be known in other parts of the world, and revealed the meaning of San rock art- it, in a sense, "cracked the code". The trail to Game Pass Shelter is a two-and-a-half, to three hour guided walk, via the spiritually moving Waterfall Shelter. It is nothing short of a world-class experience in Khoisan rock art and living Zulu and San culture.

bushman rock art at battle cave injasuti- Battle Cave at Injasuti . There is a daily guided walk to the Battle Cave, famous for its bushman rock art. There is a spectacular bushman rock art panel depicting a spiritual battle scene. The walk is about 4 hours and starts at the reception office at Injasuti Camp. Bookings required the previous day.

bushman rock art at fultons rock at highmoor- Fultons Rock at Highmoor . Highmoor Wilderness Area, southern central Drakensberg.  This non-descript rock lies just off the contour path below Caracal Cave and could easily be missed except for the rickety old fence which once protected the paintings from vandals. the hike to Fulton Rock takes roughly five hours.

bushman rock art - moon godess at Giants Castle- Moon Godess at Giants Castle . rock art in the Northern Drakensberg is more shamanistic, including mainly hallucinatory motifs, e.g. "ropes to God", magnificent dream images such as the "Moon Goddess" and the "Sorcerer" of Sorcerer's Rock. Images of bees, ladders and a butterfly scene (a rare depiction at Eland Cave) seem to be limited to the Northern Drakensberg.

bushman rock art - Leopard cave in the didima gorge cathedral peak in the Central Drakensberg - Leopard Cave: This cave lies on the edge of the Didima gorge half way between Monks Cowl and Didima/ Cathedral Peak. There is a single painting of a leopard chasing a man and by the closeness off the encounter it is definitely not a self portrait.

bushman rock art - eland cave in the near cathedral peak in the central DrakensbergEland Cave:This extensively painted cave, one of the best painted sites in the country, is situated on the South Eastern side of the Didima valley. It can either be accessed from Monks Cowl or from the Didima / Cathedral Peak side. It is an extremely long hike from either side and should be done as an overnight trip. The paintings are well preserved and are numerous and varied. This cave is the last recorded contact with Bushmen and is the site where a bow and quivers were found in 1931.

Cow Cave:This cave is accessed from The Oaks Supermarket in Dragon Peaks Park and is a guided trip leaving most mornings at 9.00 am. The path goes through private property and the paintings are on private property so a guide is essential. It is a pleasant round walk of approximately 3 hours. The panels are well preserved and depict several buck species and a painting of a cow, probably indicating contact between the Bushmen and the Inguni tribes..

Black Ox shelter:This delightful cave, the beauty of which has been marred by alien vegetation encroachment, is situated on the way to Wonder Valley. Follow the track from above the S Bends almost opposite Falcon Ridge to the Cathkin Estates fence, just before their dam, and circumnavigate the dam in a southward direction. You will pass a small kraal and follow the track for about a kilometer to a small dip in the track. A path leads to the right up to this almost obscure site. Remember you need an AMAFA registered guide to visit this site.

Maartens shelter:This small site is situated on the path between Champagne Castle Hotel and The Sphinx path at Monks Cowl . It is well marked and is a small set of paintings of Mountain Reed Buck on the underside of a large fallen rock. Afriquest:This development is along the road to Bell Park Dam. The paintings are a short distance west from the main farmhouse. The large cave has been somewhat trashed by soldiers who occupied it in the early 1900’s . But this is a history in itself as there is a carving of the regimental badge in one of the rock faces. Access by permission of the owners.

Dingaans cave:There are 2, possibly 3, painted caves at Fernwood lodge of which one is easily accessible. It is fairly extensively painted with several panels of buck and some human figures, although they are very faded. Nevertheless, it is worth a visit but as it is on private property permission from the management is necessary.

Cayley Lodge:About 4 km north of Cayley Lodge above the Ama Swazi settlement is an extensive rock ledge where 2 small streams enter the valley below. On the South side of this ledge is a small overhand with some reasonably well preserved paintings comprising of a few Eland some other antelope, human figures and a very faint therianthrope (half human half animal drawing).

Arthur’s Seat: There is a small painted panel on the Eastern side of Arthur’s Seat. Access is through private property so permission is required and they are hard to find so a guide would be necessary.

Wonder Valley:This valley lies between the Champagne Valley and Injasuti and can be accessed after a long walk from the R 600 just below Champagne Castle Hotel. This is private property so access is only by permission of the owners. There are reputed to be some good paintings but their location is a closely guarded secret. I have seen a few small paintings below the sandstone cliff on the Southern side of the valley. uKhahlamba Park-

Monks Cowl: A number of sites can be accessed from the Monks Cowl Entrance to the Ukhahlamba world heritage site. Generally however these are hard to find as none of the modern maps show the painted caves ( in an attempt to restrict access), and it requires a long walk. Remember you need to have an IMAFA registered guide to access these sites.

Cat Cave:This painted cave is close to Zulu Cave. It requires a long walk up the Sphinx path to Breakfast Stream and on to Blind Man’s Corner and the contour path. Turn right at the contour path to Hlathikulu Neck taking the Keith Bush Camp turnoff. The path to Zulu Cave turns off to the right on the Keith Bush Camp path. An overnight stay is suggested as it is a long way.

Anton’s Shelter:This small shelter on top of the Little Berg overlooking the valley has a few good paintings. It is on the path past Stable Cave and is a long walk starting either at Monks Cowl or from above Berg View taking the Jacobs Ladder path.

Vaal Rhebuck Cave: This painted cave lies beyond Stable Cave, a long walk probably requiring an overnight stay.

Didima Valley: Rock Art Interpretive Centre. The conservation authorities have established Rock Art Interpretive Centre at the Didima Camp and a top class audio visual shows are presented on a daily basis. These offer a good insight into the life of the Bushmen and their Rock Art. The center opens at 8.00 am and closes at 4.00 pm and presents shows every hour. (however phone beforehand to check times 036 4888000)