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*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
The largest hand-dug hole in the world, the Big Hole in Kimberley, South Africa is the result of a frenzied diamond rush that began in the 1870s when thousands of diggers staked their claim and used pick and shovel to gouge out a hole to a depth of 240m. Incredibly, the hole was once a hill called Colesberg Hill and when taking the hill height into consideration, the digging was essentially a lot deeper. By the time the De Beers Mining Company took over operations, the open pit had reached a diameter of 500m. The company sent shafts down to over 800m and continued to mine underground until 1914 when it closed after yielding approximately 3 tons of diamonds.
To view the hole requires an entrance fee into the Kimberley Mine Museum. Catch the old tram to the Big Hole that leaves every hour from the Kimberley city hall. The museum is a great way to be introduced to the diamond rush, some of the characters on the diamond fields and the personalities who survived unscathed and ultimately, supremely wealthy. The De Beers Hall houses a series of uncut diamonds, including the 616, the largest in the world and named after its number of carats. Take in a 20-minute movie on diamonds before departing on a tour of the Big Hole. The observation deck gives one a sense of the magnitude of the hole, even though the water at its base hides much of its depth. Walk through the old town to see replicas of an old tobacconist, a barbershop, a pub and various other buildings of the Victorian era. Visitors are invited to travel down a mine shaft to experience what underground mining entailed in the late 1800s.
Children can enjoy a diamond dig and old time skittles while parents can shop at the various onsite stores. Also at the venue is a pub and restaurant.
A visit to the Kimberley Big Hole is a guaranteed day filled with entertainment and suited for everyone.