An overnight camp for hikers and archaeology enthusiasts is being built at Border Cave, a Middle Stone Age site in the Lebombo Mountains, with spectacular views over Swaziland.
Already in place is an Interpretive Centre, which has dioramas and models telling the story of prehistoric human existence at the cave, as well as of archaeological excavations since the 1930s.
The camp and centre are a project of Amafa/Heritage KwaZulu-Natal, with the financial assistance of Tourism KZN. The self-catering camp consists of two thatched rondavels, built from locally-quarried stone, and is expected to open in March 2004.
The camps will be operated by the local Mngomezulu community, who will derive the financial benefits. At present entrance to the Interpretive Centre is free. Members of the community take visitors to the cave – which overlooks a 500 metre sheer drop into Swaziland – for a modest guide fee.
Border Cave, a large overhang in the remote Ingwavuma district, has been occupied by humans for about 200 000 years and is one of only a few archaeological sites in the world with a complete stratigraphic record. More than a million artefacts have been excavated from the site.
One and two-day hiking routes in the rugged mountain landscape have been mapped for visitors.
“Border Cave is one of the most historically and archeaologically important sites in Southern Africa,” says Mr Barry Marshall, Director of Amafa/Heritage KZN. “But it’s very remote so there is a need for overnight accommodation for visitors. Also, the surroundings are so scenic that hiking trails are a natural add-on attraction. We hope to link up with the eco-tourism attractions of Ndumu Game Reserve, Tembe Elephant Park and the Usuthu Gorge Community Conservation Area, becoming an extension of that tourism route. We also hope tourism will generate significant income for the Mngomezulu people, who are totally supportive of the project.”