Hike to see San Rock Art at Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park

Posted on 7 December 2018

A bright spring morning found our group of hikers and a guide making the steep ascent to Game Pass Shelter, so named because it lies along the former migratory route of antelope. This overhang in the Central Drakensberg is perhaps the most important rock-art site in South Africa.

The dying eland, known as the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of rock painting.

Prof David Lewis-Williams has called it the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of rock painting, as it was instrumental in unlocking their meaning: representations of the world hereafter glimpsed by shamans during their trances. It’s a stiff hour-and-a-half trudge from Kamberg Camp. The mouth of the cave loomed above as we switchbacked up the incline. Then the gorgeous panels of art appeared. Centrepiece was an image of a dying eland. It was the nest rock art I’d ever seen; the overlapping eland seeming to leap gracefully from the rock. Their bodies were beautifully modelled, the details exquisite, colours vivid. It was as though the veil of rock that held back the other world was about to burst, allowing a torrent of ancestral spirits to pour from the sandstone. The art is so  rich and complex that your mind begins to hum, trying to understand what you’re looking at.


R90 per person (reserve entry R40, guide R50).

Do it

Game Pass Shelter may not be visited without a guide; book one at Kamberg Camp. The hike is steep but relatively easy. Kamberg Reserve is part of uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park.

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