Game Pass Shelter – Best rock art site in the Drakensberg

Game Pass Shelter - Kamberg Nature Reserve

Game Pass Shelter

THE SPIRITUAL BUSHMAN ROCK ART AT GAME PASS SHELTER IN HAMBERGGame Pass Shelter is located in  Kamberg Nature Reserve in the Southern Drakensberg. This bushman rock art site is one of the best preserved sites in southern Africa. The rock art here is breathtaking in its clarity and if you have an interest in Bush rock art this is an experience not to be missed.

The Game Pass Shelter experience

Game Pass shelterArrive at Kamberg Nature Reserve and head for the Bushman Rock art center. Visitors have a choice to watch a short video  presentation of what Game Pass Shelter is all about. My recommendation is to do it as it improves the whole experience hugely.  The trail to Game Pass Shelter is a three hour guided walk, via the spiritually moving Waterfall Shelter. You need to start the trail before 11am otherwise you will just run out of time before the guides knock off.  The strikingly clear images at Game Pass Shelter together with the spiritual symbolism of the rock art will inspire and impress. Not to mention the spectacular views. the waterfalls and the company of an excellent guide.

The Symbolism of the bushman rock art

bushmanThe bushman used metaphors to express their experiences of their trance.  Bushman thought that trance is closely associated with the physical death of eland. They believed that eland have more supernatural potency than any other creature. When a shaman ‘dies’, he bends forward, bleeds from the nose, trembles, sweats profusely, staggers and eventually falls unconscious. Similarly, when an eland dies, it lowers its neck so that its head sways from side to side. Its hair stands on end, blood and foam gush from its nose and mouth. It trembles violently, sweats and staggers. Finally, it collapses. Sans artists were sensitive to these parallels and painted shamans in association with dying eland. And it is exactly this scene that is depicted at Game pass shelter which is referred to as the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of South African rock art. It was here the key key to understanding the symbolism of the San Bushman rock art paintings was discovered. A partly transformed shaman holds the tail of a dying eland. Its head is lowered and it has exaggerated, erect hairs. The man’s hoofed legs are crossed in imitation of the eland’s legs. Not shown, but on the right, another shaman with erect hair is also partly transformed into an antelope. Near him is a cloaked figure with an antelope head. In the center, a shaman dances in the bending forward, arms-back posture. A short skin cloak hangs down in front of him. the transformation from bushman to eland becomes clearly visible.