What is The Big Hole?
The Big Hole is a great chamber filled with bright turquoise blue water placed in the middle of Kimberley, South Africa. A place where hard work, sweat, blood and hope once filled the now lonely mine excavation.
It is the largest hand-dug mine in the world. Tears and dreams fell by the wayside as prospectors turned a small hill into a massive cavern. This historical landmark remains to remind us of the people who once lived here and the promises they were made…
Visiting Kimberley’s Big Hole
Going to visit the Big Hole in Kimberley is a magical experience. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see a large hole filled with water?
All jokes aside, standing on the platforms and looking down to The Big Hole is not much of an experience in itself. So why go?
As soon as your gaze shifts from its physical presence to its historical relevance, it becomes so much more than “The Big Hole”.
The History Of The Big Hole
The first diamond reserves in South Africa were discovered in the Kimberley Mine next door. Since then, prospectors filled camps with diggers by the thousands, many of whom died due to terrible conditions.
In one of the videos they play for you at the Kimberley Hole, they explain the beliefs behind diamonds. The Greeks believed that diamonds are the tears of the gods, Romans believed they are splinters of fallen stars and Hindus believed they are weapons, sharp and fatal.
All of this is true if you unfold the story at Kimberley’s Big Hole…
Thousands of men and woman left their homes to come to the “New Rush” (now The Big Hole), a place filled with promise and hope. Splinters of fallen stars that had clouded the eyes of many men.
Many men fell victim to greed. Others – clouded by the hope of having a better future – discovered a promise failed and doomed.
Arduous labour with unsanitary living conditions, coupled with accidental mining disasters, turned diamonds into the very weapons that killed many.
The symbol of elegance, grace and beauty was found on a bedrock of grime, deceit and betrayal.
The Big Hole Kimberley Visitors Centre
You can go with a tour guide to see the Big Hole, followed by a trip “underground” to experience what it would have been like for the miners, ended off by a walk through the mining exhibit.
The site guides are very entertaining and knowledgeable, which made our visit a lot more meaningful. We strongly suggest you join the tours, especially if you’re a history buff or like to ask a lot of questions… or both!
Once that is over you can go and stroll around the old town.
The old mining town is complete with artefacts, machinery, tools, signage and information about the bustling life in this very spot from 150 years prior.
It is mesmerising to gaze at sections of the town and think about the ways of life back then. This was normal then. Who would have thought their everyday life would be turned into a museum one day?
There are pubs, shops and guesthouses that have been restored to preserve the town and present the town’s most valuable memorabilia.
Cars, dresses, shoes, newspapers line the streets and stores.
Kimberley is often a stop between Cape Town and Johannesburg, if not a trip unto itself, so be sure to stop off and visit The Big Hole when you find yourself in town!
Entrance Fees and Costs
- Adult – R100
- Children (4 to 12 Years) – R60
- Family (2 Adults + 3 children) – R320
- Pensioners on Mondays – R80
- Students (With Student Card)– R80
- You can contact them for special group rates.
This is as of May 2020.
When Is The Big Hole Open?
Always! Haha. Get it? Because it’s a hole… Anyway.
They’re open everyday from 8am to 5pm.
The Parking Situation
They have safe and shaded parking spots in a gated area just outside the main entrance. You will need to cross the road by walking through the tunnel to get to the visitors centre but it’s clearly marked, so no stress.
Security guards also patrol the area to keep your cars safe and tips are graciously accepted (R5 to R20 are fair guidelines).
The Big Hole in Kimberley, A Video!
We took a South Africa road trip back in 2017 and visited some really cool places from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
Here’s when we visited The Big Hole (it was our first day):
Do you have a ‘hole’ lot to say about The Big Hole? Share it with us below!
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