The Artist’s Journey

The Artist’s Journey

Discover the earliest forms of patterns and symbols

Elands Bay is a small Cape West Coast (Weskus) town – and well-known surf spot – about two and a half hours’ drive north of Cape Town, known for its rich birdlife and Ramsar wetland at Verlorenvlei (the Western Cape’s largest natural estuary and important habitat for wading birds). The settlement is also particularly significant for the ancient San paintings found in the Elands Bay Cave on Cape Deseada just three kilometre outside town, above the harbour.

The site was occupied around 4 400 to 3 000 years ago and hunting and gathering activities continued until the 17th century. The discovery of hearths inside the cave has shown that the early people who lived there used fire. It also appears that they stored food underground and used ostrich eggs as vessels for water.

Rock paintings include large images of eland, regarded by the San as a spiritual creature, as well as smaller antelope and other animals. Most striking is the many small handprints on the cave walls, believed to be those of children and young teenagers.

Cape Town
84km to next stop

Cape Town’s story begins with the birth of Table Mountain 800-million years ago and the discovery of human footprints dating back 117 000 years. Today it’s a colourful and harmonious fusion of ethnic diversity and a city overflowing with opportunity.

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!Khwa ttu, Yzerfontein
53km to next stop

Join San demonstrating their skills and sharing their ancient knowledge about oral history, tracking animals and identifying plants at !Khwa ttu, a non-profit San culture and education centre.

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West Coast Fossil Park, Langebaan
95km to next stop

Map your route to the West Coast Fossil Park near Langebaan about 150km from Cape Town to see many well-preserved fossil remains of some of the animals that roamed the area about 5-million years ago.

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Elands Bay Cave, Elands Bay
23km to next stop

Ancient San paintings have been found in the Elands Bay Cave in the mountains a few kilometres from Elands Bay. Researchers believe people lived in the cave 4 400 to 3 000 years ago.

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Diepkloof Rock Shelter, Piketberg
81km to next stop

Though not open to the public, Diepkloof Rock Shelter near Piketberg is perhaps the most significant destination on The Artist’s Journey route. Here, researchers have discovered evidence of human occupation for nearly 85 000 years.

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Riel dancing and living culture
36km to next stop

Experience an authentic riel dance, a cultural expression of courtship rituals, animal antics and joyous jive moves practiced by descendants of San and Khoi people.

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Sevilla Rock Art Trail, Clanwilliam
71km to next stop

See some of the finest examples of San rock art in the region at nine sites along the Sevilla Rock Art Trail on Traveller’s Rest Farm, 34km from Clanwilliam.

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Truitjieskraal, Matjiesrivier Reserve
256km to next stop

The Cederberg is dotted with rock art, but Truitjieskraal in the Matjiesrivier Reserve World Heritage Site is arguably one of the most impressive sites, with rock paintings dating back thousands of years.

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