Kimberley, South Africa - Stein Travel
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Capital of the Northern Cape Province, Kimberley is best known for its Big Hole, a legacy from the diamond rush in the area in 1871. Kimberley began as a town named New Rush, which formed around the hill where a 83.50 carat (16.7g) diamond was found; as miners arrived in their thousands the hill gradually disappeared and became known as the Kimberley Mine or 'Big Hole', the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. The Big Hole reached a depth of 787ft (240m) and yielded three tons (2,722kg) of diamonds until its closure in 1914.

The growing metropolis became the first city in the southern hemisphere to install electric street lighting and was home to the country's first stock exchange and flying school. Kimberley's prosperity has continued into the 21st century and the thriving city is rich in history. Most of the city's opulent lifestyle and characteristic Victorian architecture can be seen in the historical suburb of Belgravia, and it also offers visitors many museums as well as one of South Africa's most important art galleries. Kimberley's biggest attraction is still the Big Hole, however, and visitors can visit the informative museum, which recounts the tale of the diamond rush and offers an insight into the lives of those who lived and worked in the area.

Information & Facts


Kimberley's climate is typical of desert and semi-desert areas. Summers are hot and winters mild, but with cold nights. January is the hottest month with temperatures averaging 91-97°F (33-36°C), while winter temperatures average 64ºF (18ºC). Annual rainfall is unreliable and occurs mainly during the hot summer months in the form of thunderstorms.


South Africa has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho. English is widely spoken.


South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available (there is a daily limit for cash withdrawals) and major international credit cards are widely accepted, except in petrol stations where cash is required. Visitors should be vigilant when drawing cash from ATMs, as con artists are known to operate there. Travellers cheques and some foreign currencies are accepted at larger hotels and shops, but commission is charged, otherwise all commercial banks will exchange them.


Local time is GMT +2.

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