South African World Heritage Sites
Did you know?
Did you know that the Cape Floral Region contains 20% of Africa's entire plant species?
When the Egyptians built the Aswan Dam 50 years ago, almost flooding the Abu Simbel temples in the process, the world sprang to defensive action. Nations around the globe acknowledged a rich legacy of World Heritage Sites that belonged to all humanity. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) stepped in to identify these sites, and encourage their preservation as official world heritage destinations.
Since 1999, South Africa has been privileged to have 8 of its scenic and cultural treasures declared South African World Heritage Sites. Each has unique qualities that deserve to be shared with the world. Four are categorized ‘cultural', 3 are defined as ‘natural' and 1 is noted for both cultural and natural value.
Easily visited from Johannesburg is the Cradle of Humankind, rich in fossils of hominids, the early ancestors of man. Nudging the country's Zimbabwean and Botswana borders are the remnants of an intriguing ancient civilisation, Mapungubwe, harking back 700 years. In an enthralling desert landscape is the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, terrain of the semi-nomadic Nama. Down in the Cape there's Robben Island, which as the long-term ‘home' of Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists, has become a universal symbol of freedom.
Among our natural world heritage sites is iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a large estuary where a mix of ecosystems supports a vast variety of animal and bird life. There's the Cape Floral Region stretching from Cape Peninsula into the Eastern Cape, containing 3% of all the earth's plant species. And the Free State's Vredevort Dome, an impact crater formed by the spectacular crash of a meteorite billions of years ago.
With its awe-inspiring mountains which bear the rock art of the ancient San people, the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park is a yet another must-visit among South African World Heritage Sites.