Visionary 3D labyrinth born in the Boland

The model of SkyLabyrinth that shows the shadows it will cast at dawn and dusk.

SkyLabyrinth, the world’s first full-scale 3D labyrinth, is to be built for the 2019 AfrikaBurn event, and the idea was conceptualised and is being manifested by an enterprising team based in the Boland.

Carl Pretorius, co-owner of the Just Trees Nursery based on the farm Nuwedrif between Paarl and Wellington, thought up the concept of SkyLabyrinth at last year’s Burn event.

Carl is assisted by a team of volunteer supporters and funders, which includes Terry de Vries who is recognised as an expert in the construction of labyrinths worldwide.

A labyrinth is a meandering path leading to a centre. Labyrinths are ancient, dating back over 4 000 years, used symbolically as a walking meditation or site of rituals and ceremony.

Labyrinths are tools for transformation that evoke metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage, religious practice, mindfulness, environmental art and community building.

SkyLabyrinth is a classic full-scale nine-tier modified Chartres design that will rise about six metres above the Tankwa valley floor. It is different from the regular flat designs, which makes SkyLabyrinth unique.

The rising path from the entry point of the labyrinth to its centre is symbolic of one’s struggle or challenge. Reaching the elevated centre of the labyrinth gives the labyrinth walker a far better perspective. The downward sloping exit path is symbolic of releasing and accepting.

AfrikaBurn 2019 will take place from Monday April 29 to Sunday May 5 in the Tankwa Karoo.

The build phase of SkyLabyrinth will start early in March and will last for about six weeks out in the harsh summer desert conditions. SkyLabyrinth will be a permanent structure at the AfrikaBurn site and will not be burned like most other art pieces.

AfrikaBurn is a fun event, an extended dress-up party that provides for maximum freedom of expression in camping, artwork, music and community life. That said, it is definitely not for the faint-hearted since AfrikaBurn is an exercise in radical self-reliancy, leave-no-trace and nine other core principles.

There, on the flat and barren valley in the one of the driest parts of South Africa, every year a pop-up make-believe town appears for a week or two, after which the desert goes to sleep again.

Annually, more than 10 000 AfrikaBurners have made the hectic trip on the long dirt road between Ceres and Calvinia, at the end of April, since 2007.

The SkyLabyrinth team under the leadership of Carl Pretorius are busy raising R500 000 for materials, labour and transport to make this project possible.

Major cost savings have been achieved through innovative sourcing of poles and planks for the walkways being sawn and shaped from non-indigenous trees such as blue gums from the banks of the Berg River.

Contributions toward SkyLabyrinth can be made at

Bolander will keep our readers informed about progress and news from the on-site team, and during the event itself.

Charl Pienaar, an agricultural scientist, is a SkyLabyrinth team member, and is from Paarl. He has made contributions to Bolander in the past, about the Eerste River in Stellenbosch, and walks from source to sea to raise awareness.