Explore a vivid cultural heritage
Cultural tourism in South Africa
Hindu dancer - part of SA culture.
© Chris Marais
South Africa has a rich and vivid history, ideal for cultural tourism. A number of world-class sites have been developed to commemorate the many historical influences on South African life. Among these, you will also find many World Heritage sites, including the Cradle of Humankind.
South Africa offers a huge diversity in cultural tourism, with many of South Africa’s attractions commemorating the past, from the ancient nomadic San culture to resistance to European conquest and apartheid rule.
The Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal is home to the ancient rock art of the San, while the Cradle of Humankind outside Johannesburg goes back even further: it’s the richest hominid fossil site in the world. Mapungubwe, in the Limpopo province, is one of the richest archaeological sites in Africa, where an advanced South African culture prospered between 1200 and 1270 AD.
The country is scattered with historical battlefields from the Anglo-Zulu War and the South African (Anglo-Boer) War. Famous sites include Isandlwana in KwaZulu-Natal, Kimberley's Magersfontein, and the concentration camp cemetery near Polokwane.
Towns such as Mamre, Elim, Wupperthal and Ebenhaezer are some of the most historically interesting Mission Route sites in South Africa, where you will be able to learn more about the influence of the missionaries who flocked to South Africa from all over Europe.
Soweto's Heritage Trail is a powerful reminder of the events that characterised South Africa’s liberation struggle, such as the student uprising on 16 June, 1976. It includes Hector Pieterson Square, dedicated to the first student to die in the student uprising.
You can also visit numerous cultural villages and museums to learn more about how indigenous and colonial inhabitants lived, and how the various languages, customs and traditions of South Africa are celebrated today.
One of the best ways to experience South Africa's cultures is to attend a country festival. Take the Williston Winter Festival, held at the brink of spring each year. It's a friendly riot of dust-dancing by the local Namas and country singing by their white Afrikaans counterparts. The long tables groan with food dishes from both cultures and strangers are made more than welcome in their midst. It's South Africa with her best foot forward.
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