Capital of the Northern Cape Province, Kimberley is best known for its Big Hole, a legacy from the diamond rush in the area in 1871. Kimberley began as a town named New Rush, which formed around the hill where an 83.50 carat (16.7g) diamond was found. As miners arrived in their thousands, the hill gradually disappeared and became known as the Kimberley Mine or 'Big Hole'. The Big Hole reached a depth of 787ft (240m) and yielded three tons (2,722kg) of diamonds until its closure in 1914.
The growing metropolis became the first city in the southern hemisphere to install electric street lighting and was home to the country's first stock exchange and flying school. Kimberley's prosperity has continued into the 21st century and although it is no longer considered a major South African city, it is thriving and the rich history makes it an interesting travel destination.
Evidence of the city's historical opulence and characteristic Victorian architecture can be seen in the historical suburb of Belgravia, and it also offers visitors some museums as well as one of South Africa's most important art galleries. Kimberley's biggest attraction is still the Big Hole, however, and visitors can visit the informative museum, which recounts the tale of the diamond rush and offers an insight into the lives of those who lived and worked in the area.
Kimberley's climate is typical of semi-desert areas. Summers (December to February) are hot, and winters (June to August) are mild, but with cold nights. January is the hottest month, with temperatures averaging 91°F to 97°F (33°C to 36°C), while winter temperatures average 64ºF (18ºC). Annual rainfall is unreliable and occurs mainly during the hot summer months in the form of thunderstorms.
Kimberley is not a major tourist destination but visitors in the region would do well to stop over in this unique city for a day or two.