San Rock Art in Sonderend Mountains.

During the last week of holidays we decided to hike to a rock art site in the mountains above Genadendal. There are only a few known rock art sites in this area, which in a way makes them more special. We were in luck and tour guide Paul Adendorf was available to take us to the site. We set off early because we knew the day was going to become very hot. To begin with you follow the Genadendal trail which leads from the Genadendal Church Square into the mountains. After over an hour of climbing we headed off the trail and walked through fynbos to look for the site. It took us another half hour to reach the shelter, which is more of an overhang than a cave. It was vey exciting to see the paintings, a small collection of possibly twenty images. My thoughts went to the artists and how their lives were destroyed by the European settlers. It was a privilege to be in the same cave as the San artists and their families and also sad that these people are no longer around to teach us about their lives. There is something special about being in a rock shelter in these beautiful mountains, and imaging the artists and their people going about their daily lives.

Visiting a rock art site a privilege and there are certain basic rules to follow. You shouldn’t touch or soak the paintings with water, fires and smoke are also damaging and lastly one should leave only foot steps behind. We recommend visiting with a local guide, this creates employment and also means that the site will be properly supervised. This site will be very difficult to find without a guide as there are no paths leading to it.

After an hour of admiring the paintings and absorbing the special atmosphere of the rock shelter we headed back to Genadendal and arrived back 5 hours after we set out.

We then became aware of different interpretations of the art. There is one painting of what looks like a donkey, it could perhaps also be a quagga or zebra.

Some claim the fact that it is a donkey means that the painting is very recent as donkeys were evidently not found in this area until the 1700′s. It is also suggested that the paintings could be fake. The truth may become clear once more research has been done ( these paintings were discovered by Paul about 5 years ago). My personal opinion is that the paintings look very genuine and I can’t imagine who would go to the trouble of making such good forgeries in such a remote and difficult to find shelter.