South Africa’s vast landscape is a world of wonders with spectacular features and attractions in the form of mountains, rivers, ocean, game reserves that are home to rare species of birds and animals. as well as preserved cultural and heritage sites. South Africa’s rich history and heritage are still embedded in peoples’ lifestyles and value systems and are exhibited in cultural events, artifact monuments, museums, ancestral graves, sites historical warfare, rock art, etc. of these cultural and heritage sites are located within or near the various national parks of South Africa.
Here are some of the top cultural and heritage sites you need to consider on your next vacation or sightseeing trip:
North Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in the country and has gained worldwide fame with tourists from all over the world traveling just to come and experience the unique plants and animals on display. Towering cliffs, lush forests, rivers and streams that are home to the Big 5 and other endangered animals and birds, complemented by breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, complete the elegance and beauty of this hunting reserve.
North Kruger National Park has several independent camps that provide the ideal setting for visitors to explore the sights and sounds of culture and heritage. These sites have immense cultural value for the locals, but also offer unprecedented insight into all things heritage. These sites are the ruins of Albasini, Masorini and Thulamela.
Albasini ruins– The Albasini Ruins remain a corporate cultural heritage that provides historical knowledge about local and cross-border businesses. This site is where you’ll find the remains of pioneering Portuguese-born entrepreneur Joao Albasini. He is credited with establishing trade routes that extend to the Portuguese port of Lourenco Marques (Mozambique) in order to facilitate trade from the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR).
Masorini – Masorini is a typical Iron Age site located about 12 km from the Phalaborwa Gate. It was originally established by the locals as an advanced industrial zone for mining, iron ore smelting, and other metal trading businesses. You can expect to see reconstructed huts and ovens, a rich museum with archaeological and ethnographic information, a picnic area near the hill, and guided tours to enjoy the scenery.
Thulamela -Thulamela is classified as a heritage site and dates back 450 to 500 years before the present (BP). The story of this site centers on the Nyai division of the Shona people who believed in a mystical, elusive and sacred leader. Learn through the graves discovered about people from the past and their belief systems. The site also provides a historical revelation on farming and eating practices with preserved pottery shards indicating cooking, eating and drinking habits.
Mapungubwe National Park
Besides the fauna, sandstones and healthy forests, Mapungubwe National Park hosts a site that is part of the cultural landscape. This site is Mapungubwe Hill.
The Mapungubwe cultural site is located not far from the Limpopo and Shashe rivers and is commonly known as a burial place of African kings. This site is a natural reservoir of human development that took place in southern Africa between 900 and 1300 AD. By visiting this site, you will have a rare opportunity to learn and appreciate the journey of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe and its role in facilitating Eastern State Trade. African ports in international markets such as Saudi Arabia and India.
Karoo national park
Karoo national park Not only is a game reserve known for its interesting 4 × 4 trails, various animals and birds, safaris and true African scenery, the Karoo is also a cultural and heritage destination. The main cultural attractions of the Karoo are:
Grantham House -It is an environmental education center that welcomes tourists and groups of people looking for intensive environmental education, outdoor activities and walking trails.
Stolzhoek Or Schuur – Dating back to the 1800s, this cultural site has been preserved as a rich source of information and graphic display of history regarding the historic route of the park as well as the flora and fauna that are very common in this part of the country .
“Wolwehokke ‘/ Traps -These traps have historical significance as they were historically used by farmers to catch predators and other vicious animals. From these traps, tourists have the chance to learn the history of food gathering and hunting habits of local farmers.
Cemeteries – Karoo is also home to too many historic tombs with special significance. These include cricketer Edward Lohmann and revered Military General Andrew Wauchope, a victim of the Battle of Magersfontein in the suburb of Kimberley. There is also the grave of Winchester Clowes. Winchester’s name is recorded in the history books as a survivor of the Majuba and Magersfontein wars. There is the resting place of John Sweet Distin who is said to have jumped overboard around Table Bay in 1946 from New Zealand just because of the love of the area. The list of these cultural burials cannot be complete without mentioning General Pieter Hendrik Kritzinger, a great Boer warrior who fought against the British invaders.
The next time you think about culture and heritage tourism, the list above should give you enough options to choose from.