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From ancient caves echoing the presence of Stone Age man to a shipwreck littered coastline punctuated by sentinel lighthouses, the area around Grootbos is laden in legends, lore and landmarks.
Besides the forces of nature that forged our natural heritage, the earliest inhabitants to contribute to our cultural heritage were very early indeed. Remains found in the remarkable Klipgat Cave in De Kelders indicate man’s presence here over 70,000 years ago! These findings are amongst the oldest remains of modern-looking Homo Sapiens in the world, reinforcing the theory that modern people originated in Africa before dispersing around the world – and making Klipgat Cave a site of World Heritage significance.
Jumping a few thousand years forward, other archeological findings in the Klipgat Cave point to a new wave of human habitation over 2000 years ago. These Late Stone Age people known as the Khoikhoi thrived in the area up until the 18th century when the first European settlers arrived, heralding the demise of their culture and a tumultuous new chapter in the history of our nation.
During the intrepid European age of discovery and colonisation, the Southern Tip of Africa occupied a pivotal position in economic and maritime affairs, being the turning point for ships sailing from Europe to India and the Far East. Many brave explorers came up against some of the world’s worst sea conditions at this notorious junction, wrecking over 140 ships since 1673 and leaving a trail of relics, artifacts and bewildered castaways in its wake.
Some of the earliest white settlers in the area were ex-employees of the Dutch East Indian Company who were granted their freedom and ‘loan farms’ to raise crops and stock to sell back to the Company. These ‘free burghers’ established a foothold in the Overberg and opened the way for further development such as the Moravian mission station at Elim established in 1824, which is today a National Heritage Site.
Join Grootbos on a guided tour to discover the ancient history and antique treasures of this fascinating region. Visit museums and heritage sites that offer a glimpse into the life and times of early pioneers. Uncover the mysteries of the ages in the shell middens of Klipgat Cave or witness the power of two great oceans converging at the Southern Tip of Africa while pondering the ill-fated vessels that were smashed against its wild and ravenous shore.