01.10.2009 - 04.10.2009
It was thus in Lydia that the vast majority of the 5500km mentioned in the previous entry were covered, though the rain was constant.
We had no specific plan for Lydia, just some diverse places we wished to see and a vague idea of how to linkup the disparate corners of South Africa that they were in. For complex logistical reasons to do with a wedding, ships and mostly me being an awkward b*stard, things could not be done in a straight forward, ideal or in many ways, even satisfactory way, and thus would involve regular backtracking and confused destinations.
As such after the obvious failure of the weather to improve and allow us to view the Drakensberg mountains, our whole reason for being there, we decided to call it quits for now and head North West, in search of warmer climes, clearer skies, drier roads and a big hole.
When we had been bouncing ideas back and fore as to what we had wanted to see or do, I had had very few requests. Never having been to the country before, all was good for me, and I was happy to go wherever, with few exceptions: I wanted a few days in Cape Town, to climb Table Mountain and if possible travel Jozi-CT in one direction by train. I needed to visit Cape Agulhas. And I very much wanted to visit the Big Hole.
Really, there is nothing much there at all expect for, well, a big hole. It is the kind of nerdy random thing that I love, but few others care about.
Kimberley is basically the heart of the worlds diamond mining industry. Lying onto top of the most fertile kimberlite pipe known, Diamonds have been dug out of it for almost 150years, and even today De Beers have a huge mining operation in the city. But the big hole is the original site. What makes it so impressive to me at least is the size. Originally it was hundreds of individual claims, before gradually being consolidated amongst a handful of big players as smaller scale miners sold out. By the time it closed down (almost 100years ago), the hole was well over 200metres deep, and has a perimeter of over 1.5km. And the entire thing was dug by hand making it by far the largest hand dug excavation in the world.
At the end of the day though, however big and however hand dug, the big hole is just a hole, and it was soon time to move on – via some hot donuts and a glance at Africa's oldest pub, naturally – and head for more exotic and remote climes.