Rock art at Game Pass Shelter in Kamberg
Rock art at Game Pass Shelter in Kamberg

Game Pass Shelter

The Game Pass Shelter is situated just a 1,5 hour walk from the Kamberg Rock Art Centre. Game Pass Shelter is commonly referred to as the “Rosetta Stone” of southern African rock art, for it was here that archaeologists first uncovered a vital key to understanding the symbolism of San rock art.

This site is special for so many reasons. It was one of the first sites ever to be seen by Europeans and appeared in the Scientific American in 1915. It was the first South African rock art site to be known in other parts of the world, and revealed the meaning of San rock art- it, in a sense, “cracked the code”.

The trail to Game Pass Shelter is a two-and-a-half, to three hour guided walk, via the spiritually moving Waterfall Shelter. It is nothing short of a world-class experience in Khoisan rock art and living Zulu and San culture. Walks normally leave at 08h00, 11h00 and between 12h30 and 13h00.

The walk is preceded by a spectacular DVD presentation at the state-of-the-art Interpretive Centre that caters for a maximum of ten people at a time. Sessions are run seven days a week and can be arranged by appointment.

The Centre is wheelchair friendly, but unfortunately the trail to Game Pass Shelter is not. There is a special audio-visual show on the trail and the shelter for those who cannot walk up to Game Pass Shelter.

Drakensberg bushman rock art

The uKhahlamba Drakensberg region of KwaZulu-Natal is rich in rock art left behind by the Bushman people. These exquisite paintings tell stories of yesteryear and teach us more about the mythology, ritual, and beliefs of the Bushman.

Paintings were made using mostly black, white, red and orange pigments gathered from the surrounding natural environment.

Long thought to be merely pictorial journals of hunting trips and everyday life, researchers have now uncovered some of the deeper meaning of the art. The most frequently depicted animal is the eland, the largest antelope of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg and vital to the well being of the San, providing meat, fat and skins.

The eland became an important symbol to the San and was viewed as an animal of power, with supernatural potency and great religious significance. Some paintings show mysterious figures with combined antelope and human features that relate to the San spirit realm.

More recent paintings depict friendly interaction between the San and African and European migrant groups, as well as conflict. Today the descendants of these artists live among local African communities.

Although they have changed their hunter-gatherer lifestyle, they still strongly associate with the rock art of their ancestors.

The Rock art tour experience

What makes this tour such an authentic experience is that the guide comes from the local Tendele Village. It might start out as a guided tour but as your relationship with the guide develops it becomes a conversation and things like football and future dreams get discussed giving tourists a rural insight into South Africa.