UNESCO World Heritage Sites of South Africa

South Africa, known as the Rainbow Nation, offer a variety of cultural, natural and historical experiences. Amongst other amazing activities South Africa boasts a total of ten UNESCO World Heritage sites. There are currently five Cultural sites, four Natural sites and one Mixed site.

The five Cultural locations are:

1.Fossils Hominid Sites of South Africa– located in Sterkfontein the area contains numerous fossil sites with traces of human occupation dating back 3.3 million years.

Sterkfontein Caves Tour

2. Mapungubwe Cultural Landscapes– In the savanna of Limpopo lies the Mapungubwe Kingdom. In the 14thcentury the kingdom was abandoned leaving the remains and settlements a perfect location to explore what is thought to be the first class-based social system in Southern Africa.

3. Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscapes– For more than two millennia this site has sustained the semi-nomadic Nama people. The site also boasts a seasonal migration and grazing grounds. The Nama still live in rush-mat houses and collect medicinal plants in the area.

4. Khomani Cultural Landscape – Along the borders of Botswana and Namibia andalso making up part of the Kalaharia National Park lies a large expanse of land which contains evidence of human occupation from the Stone Age. The area is home to the Khomani San people who have adapted to the extreme desert conditions.

5. Robben Island – Robben island was used between the 17thcentury and the 20thcentury as a prison. Used extensively during apartheid to house political prisoners, most notable of which is Nelson Mandela who spent 18 of his 27-year imprisonment on Robben Island. Today, the prison is a museum where you can tour the island’s and learn more about the islands 500-year history.

Robben Island Tour

The four Natural sites are:

1.Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains – Featuring volcanic and sedimentary rock dating back 3.6 – 3.25 billion years, Baberton Mkahonjwa Mountains has some of the oldest exposed geological structures in the world.

2. Cape Floral Region Protected Area – Comprised of 13 protected areas the Cape Floral Region hosts 9,000 vascular plant species, 69% of which are endemic.

Common Bee polizating a Carpobrotus edulis succulent plant

3. iSimangaliso Wetlands Park – Located along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, the park consists of three major lakes, eight interlinking systems, swamp forests, estuarine system and 25,000-year-old coastal dunes. Pristine beaches, stretching for 137 miles along with coastal forests and rolling grasslands, allows visitors amazing views and opportunities to go on self-guided or guided trails to see game.

4. Vredefort Dome – Dating back 2 billion years, Vredefort Dome is the world’s largest astrobleme and has a diameter of 120 miles.

Storm clouds over Vredefort dome world heritage site

The one Mixed site is:

  1. Maloti-Drakensberg Park– Consisting of the uKahlamba Drakensberg National Park in South Africa and the Sehlathebe National Park in Lesotho, Maloti-Drakensberg Park features exceptional natural beauty, endemic plants, endangered wildlife and the critically endangered Maloti minnow. The natural site also contains cave and rock-shelters with paintings from the San people who lived in the area for a period of 4,000 years.

Visit any of the ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites within South Africa for a cultural, environmental and educational experience.

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