Talks and tours

Graeme, mobile:
+27 84 245 2490
Karen, mobile:
+27 82 475 8767
Tel/fax: +27 56 8181814
Based at Otters' Haunt, Kopjeskraal Road, opposite Parys, North West Province, South Africa

The Dome is so big it can only be seen from space - as in the image here (false colour highlighting the features). Come to our Vredefort Dome information centre to learn all about the mightiest asteroid impact of them all. The Unesco World Heritage Site draws tourists, school and student groups, scientists and adventurers. We are 2km from the town of Parys, on the Vaal River in central South Africa. Get hold of us to arrange your visit and plan a tour to suit your interests - from geology to battlefields, from driving and hiking to cycling and rafting.
Stay at Otters' Haunt Wonderful riverside accommodation in the Dome with direct access to many sites of interest.

What kind of tour suits you?

What kind of Dome experience are you looking for? Scientific, geological, historical, educational, archaeological, cultural, ecological or broadly general? There are many ways to see the Dome and learn its amazing story. We do talks, demonstrations, drives, hikes, rafting through the Dome, and research field trips.

Just let us know what interests you most and we’ll put it together¬†with programme and pricing.

Go here for Tour Options

In general

The Vredefort Dome is the oldest and largest asteroid impact crater on Earth, right? No! It used to be… until we learnt that there is at least Continue reading What kind of tour suits you?

Asteroids with a golden lining

Asteroids threaten our survival, but some are rich in potential.

meteorite sutters mill 2012

Credit: Eric James/NASD

A fireball over California and Nevada scattered meteorites all over a wide area. The debris centred on Sutter’s Mill, named after the nearby historical site that started the California Gold Rush, so the space rock got the name Sutter’s Mill Meteorite. The asteroid itself turned out to be a scientific gold mine.

The pieces were collected by a quick-off-the-mark research team. Sent to labs for analysis, they have a complex structure showing that many asteroids are formed from multiple accretions of floating space dust, rocks, minerals and water. There is nothing simple about the makeup of this carbonacious chondrite and scientists are excited by what it reveals about how asteroids formed from the matter of the solar system.

The more we learn about asteroids – the loose cannons of Continue reading Asteroids with a golden lining

2036 is a dangerous year

Although the Apophis asteroid is not guaranteed to hit the earth there is a 1/100 chance that it will do so in 2036, destroying possibly all life across a continent or more.

South Africa’s Big Bang in mining

mining asteroids $Ever since an asteroid blew up over Russia last year, space visionaries have gone crazy with fear and greed. Fear that a major asteroid impact would be the end of us. And greed over dreams of untold mineral wealth locked up in these wandering bits of rock.

Terrifying and tantalising as it all is, it seems to have passed South Africa by like a fireball in the night. While the country’s gold, platinum and other precious mineral reserves are dwindling, and the mining industry is on its knees thanks to strike violence, our corporate mining giants, government and unions are arm wrestling over what to do to save the industry. Have they no vision?

It’s time to get out there with our internationally top-ranked mining technologies and join Continue reading South Africa’s Big Bang in mining

A scene worthy of Top Gear

Passers-by might have been forgiven for thinking the TV show Top Gear had come to town. The lovingly cared-for E-Type in the photo above was just one of the marvels from an earlier age that made the trek to the Dome from Johannesburg and other towns. This was a collection of fairly antique Jags (and a Daimler) driven by gentlemen enthusiasts who insisted on sticking mostly to the tar of course! They ventured ever-so-slightly onto the dirt to visit the meteorite melt rocks of the Salvamento Quarry (below). The club was treated to a lecture tour by Graeme Addison, followed by a sumptuous lunch at Dome I
. Sadly for club chairman Gerry Kramer his beautiful car conked in on the way and he missed the tour – though not the grub. He finally made it by lunchtime. Way to go! Gerry commented afterwards: Continue reading A scene worthy of Top Gear

Arts, crafts and culture

Why not a Pilgrim's Rest?

Hats off to the Dome Conservancy – a hardworking crew of volunteers – for once again running a successful Kuns, Kos en Kultuur day. Held at the little dorp of Venterskroon (don’t blink or you’ll miss it!) the annual fete drew a considerable crowd. I’ve always thought the Old Imperial Inn where the fete was held should become the centre of a Pilgrim’s Rest type olde golde rush towne. It’s a charming building, but it’s been vandalised several times while standing empty. Let’s hope better days lie ahead for it.

Karen from Otters’ Haunt went along and commented that pensioners were selling handcrafts for R10 an item on average. The younger set of fleamarketeers averaged R40. That’s capitalism, age-related. But what I want to know is who needs the money more? One thing’s for sure. Recently there was a rather poorly attended fete in Parys, entrance fee R50 or more depending on the shine of your shoes. The wise decision of the Conservancy was to charge R10 a head and pack-em-in. That’s how to popularise. Get the crowd in and let the income look after itself as they go around spending. Anyway it’s only money but the Spirit of Place is what really counts.

From spaza to fleamarket is not so far

But I do have a question. It’s time to include black home industries and culture on a much more proactive basis. Sure, there will be problems getting people from the townships but remember, the Dome has been a melting pot in more than one sense. After the Almighty blew a hole in the ground here He decided it would be interesting to mix up the tribes of humanity.

The Dome has been crossed and recrossed by innumerable migrants from the time of the First People (Bushmen) to the arrival of the Khoi and then the first Bantu-speaking tribes from the north. Then came the Matabele invasion, the Voortrekkers, the gold rush and the Uitlanders, wars, immigrants and Gauteng commuters… all had a role and all should have a presence.

Easy to say. How do we pull them all in to the fleamarket thing?

Biggest near-miss asteroid

It’s a big one – but harmless for now!

From The Guardian:

Astronomers around the world have readied their telescopes to catch a glimpse of a speeding ball of rock that will hurtle past the Earth on Tuesday night. Scientists say the asteroid, which is about a quarter of a mile wide, will pass inside the moon’s orbit and come within 198,000 miles (319,000km) of Earth at 23.28GMT. This is the closest a tracked object this size has come to the planet.

Nasa calculates the 400-metre (1,312ft) wide asteroid, known as 2005 YU55, has roughly has a one in 10 million chance of hitting Earth in the next century. Were it to strike, the collision would unleash the equivalent of several thousand megatonnes of TNT. Even with clear skies the asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye, but professional and amateur astronomers will turn their telescopes on the rock to learn about its surface and chemical composition. …More

Asteroids in the spotlight

Rocks floating in space may have brought life to Earth, but they can also be killers. NASA’s current exploration of the asteroid belt is revealing that there are fewer asteroids than previously thought (they still number in the hundreds of thousands). But there are still dozens of dangerous ones that could hit us – with catastrophic consequences. Great extinctions have been caused by asteroid impacts, and unless we can work out how to deflect these loose cannons we could suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs.

One of the theories about asteroids and their cousins the comets is that during the “era of bombardment” of the planets about 4.3 billion years ago, these chunks of rock and ice brought the Earth’s water. They also may have contained the building blocks of life, the amino acids that go into DNA. This theory of “panspermia” holds that life did not begin on Earth but was brought here from space. It suggests that life may be widespread in the universe, though as yet we have no scientific confirmation of that. The search for life in space has been going on for decades without positive results – and anyway, even if we found it, it could be too far away, or too alien, for us to communicate with it!

For more on these topics:

See the evidence of impacts, early life and asteroid traces on a visit to the Vredefort Dome! – Graeme Addison