Main Caves – Bushman rock art museum

Main Caves Giants Castle bushman rock art

The Main Caves

Rock art at Main Caves at Giants CastleMain Caves in the Giant’s Castle Nature Reserve is the South Africa’s premier rock art site that is open to the public. This rock art site is the perfect location for day visits for tour groups and families. The rock art is a half hour walk from Giants Castle camp and these rock overhangs are crucial archaeological sites which have been turned into an outdoor museum showing the Bushman’s way of life. Rock art tours of the Main Caves are conducted throughout the year. These tours are every hour on the hour starting from 9am and the last tour of the day is 3pm. Purchase a ticket for the rock art tour at the reception before you start the walk to the Main Caves.

The Main Caves Hike

Main Caves at Giants Castle - Open air museumMain Caves hike leads from the camp, along the river near the edge of a forest, up to the large caves. This is an easy 40min hike there and a 30 min hike back to Giants Castle Camp. A great tip is that as you exit the rock art site look down towards the stream on your left and you will notice a huge rock called Castle Rock. Its worth finding your way to this rock as it has some impressive bushman rock art on it and you will experience this as had you discovered the rock art yourself.

The Rock art at Main Caves

Giants Castle walking to Main CavesBushman Rock Art is most definitely a reason to visit the Drakensberg Mountains. This is an extensively painted cave. Some of the rock art at Giants Castle at the main caves is in good condition although some has  badly weathered  over time. Main Caves is by far the easiest access to rock art in the Drakensberg. Main Caves features some 500 rock paintings, some of which are 800 years old.  The Park authorities have built  walk ways to protect  the cave floor and  prevent direct access to the rock face.  There is also a  life sized  bushman  model scene depicting the life of a bushman family.  The guides are informative and will explain the various panels.

The Main Caves History

Bushmans river at Giants Castle below Main CavesIt was close to this site that in 1873 the Hlubi leader, Langalibalele, made a run for Lesotho over the high Drakensberg to escape the authority of the Colonial government. His route can still be seen and is known as Langalibalele’s Pass. Major Durnford led the colonial forces trying to prevent this passage. The skirmish that ensued on 3 November 1873 was chaotic, and left five colonial soldiers dead. There were massive reprisals by the British, and on 11 December 1873.  Langalibalele surrendered. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.