“No more do we Bushmen hunt in these hills. The fire is cold. Our songs are quiet. But listen carefully. You will hear us in the water. Look carefully, you will see us in the rock.”
Visiting this important site is a world class experience. 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 “cracked the code”. A small panel in the shelter is therefore known as the “Rosetta Stone Panel”.
The shelter is a place of living spirituality as both Zulu and San cultures visit for religious purposes.
The walk is fairly strenuous with an altitude of 2,034 and takes 3 to 3 and a half hours return, with a guide as you cannot visit the shelter without. The trail passes the Waterfall Shelter with paintings in which individuals are bending forward and some women are depicted, sitting and clapping. These images link with the trance dance when shamans dance in a circle for days, without eating or sleeping. After enduring days of excruciating exercise, the shamans’ stomachs would contract in spasms, forcing them to bend forward. (Interpretation by Celeste Rossouw)
Walks normally leave at 09h00, 11h00 and 12h30 from the impressive Interpretive Centre following a spectacular DVD presentation. Booking ahead is essential as only 10 people can fit into the centre at a time.
Sessions are run seven days a week. The Centre is wheelchair friendly, but not the hike to Game Pass Shelter. There is a special audio-visual show about the trail and the shelter for those who cannot walk up to Game Pass Shelter.
Archaeologist and rock art specialist Dr. Sven Ouzman explains why the ‘Rosetta Stone Panel’ in Game Pass Shelter is the key panel in San Rock Art that alerted researches to the fact that this wasn’t an art of pretty animals, but in fact a religious art. Watch the video.