Bushmen paintings are one of South Africa’s greatest cultural treasures. In the Drakensberg about 20,000 rock paintings have been recorded at 500 different caves. The paintings tell the story of the lifestyle of the San hunter-gatherers or Bushmen. This is one of the reasons why this area was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Archaeological evidence suggests that theKhoi San (Bushmen) lived in the Drakensberg area as early as 8000 years ago. Unfortunately, the Khoi San were exterminated in the mid-1800s by the Zulu and the European farmers and hunters.
The most recent research has proven a deep significance in these paintings and that they weren’t just representations of their lives. The shamans painted on the rock represented an opening into the spirit world of the Khoi San people.
All rock art in the park is protected. In the past paintings were vandalised, as a result the authorities put measures in place to restrict access to these sites: caves with paintings were removed from hiking maps, overnight stays are no longer permitted in caves with paintings and visits have to be arranged through a local custodian.
Some of the most important rock art sites are in the Central Drakensberg: Main Caves in the Giant’s Castle area, where tours are conducted daily, and Game Pass Shelter in the Kamberg Nature Reserve.