Tourism Month: South African attractions that should be on your bucket list

Drakensberg Boys Choir. Picture: Supplied

Drakensberg Boys Choir. Picture: Supplied

Published Sep 14, 2022


South Africa has some of the most beautiful places and landscapes in the world.

This land is rich with history and is a constant reminder of our beautiful heritage.

From mountains, to rivers and little towns, each place tells a story of our country’s rich culture and heritage.

Here are five popular heritage spots, in no particular order, from around the country that are worth the visit.

Mapungubwe National Park, Limpopo

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre, Mapungubwe National Park, Limpopo. The landscape was both the inspiration for the design and the source of the materials for the construction designed by Peter Rich Architects, South Africa. Picture: Peter Rich Architects/Supplied

Mapungubwe National Park is a national park in Limpopo located by the Kolope River, south of the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers.

It protects the historical site of Mapungubwe Hill, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe. It also protects the heritage of wildlife and riverine forests along the Limpopo River.

The Mapungubwe Hill was the site of a community dating back to the Iron Age, believed to be a prosperous community as archaeologists uncovered the famous golden rhino figurine from the site.

The region is one of the few places in Africa that has both Meerkats and Nile crocodiles.

Augrabies Falls National Park, Northern Cape

Augrabies Falls National Park, Northern Cape. Picture: Sho't Left

According to SANParks, the Khoi people called the Augrabies Falls “Aukoerebis”, the place of the Great Noise, referring to the Orange River thundering its way downwards for 60 meters in a spectacular waterfall.

The falls are sacred to the Khoi who believe that a giant snake lives at the bottom of the falls. It is believed to be a powerful mythic creature with mesmeric eyes, shimmering scales and a huge flawless diamond on its head for a crown.

The beautiful story of Augrabies Falls shares Khoi and San history and heritage.

Drakensberg, KZN

The San people lived in the Drakensberg area for thousands of years and left behind them an extraordinary collection of rock paintings in the Drakensberg mountains, earning the Unesco World Heritage Site status. Picture: Supplied

Another place where The Bushmen have left a piece of their history is The Drakensberg, which literally translates to Dragon Mountains.

The mountains are the heart and soul of South Africa. It joins the Eastern Cape, Lesotho, Free State, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, making it one of the most popular destinations in the country.

The Drakensberg is unique in the sense that it carries a vast history of the first people who walked South Africa.

The Rock art at Drakensberg was the work of the San or the Bushman. It’s a world heritage site that has the most extensive and perhaps most exceptional repository of rock art in the world, with close to 30000 examples of Drakensberg San Rock Art exists in the Drakensberg.

Kruger National Park, Limpopo/Mpumalanga

A pride of lions relaxing on the road at Kruger National Park. Picture: Unsplash

The Kruger National Park is one of the oldest and largest game reserves in Africa. It’s a favourite destination for safari lovers around world.

It covers the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga and over 2 million hectares of African wild life. Kruger National Park is home of The Big Five: lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino, which is why it is a popular tourist destination.

The Kruger National Park was first established by the President of the Transvaal, Paul Kruger, in 1898. There are 254 known cultural heritage sites in the Kruger, including 130 rock art sites.

Homo erectus roamed the area about 500 000 years ago, and cultural artefacts from 100 000 to 30 000 years ago have been found and confirmed. More than 300 archaeological sites of Stone Age humans have been found, making the Kruger National Park a place of great history.

The park is managed by SANParks, and you can enjoy a self-guided tour of the park or experience a luxury safari stay at private lodges around the park.

Stellenbosch, Western Cape

Stellenbosch is famous for vine-cloaked fields, old oaks, and cobbled streets and charming Cape Dutch-style buildings. Picture: Supplied

Stellenbosch is the second oldest European settlement in the Cape, where the history of South Africa’s contact with European’s began.

Vine-cloaked fields, old oaks, and cobbled streets greet visitors, and charming Cape Dutch-style buildings are remnants of the cultural heritage that this town has to offer.

Stellenbosch is also renowned for its fertile soils, fresh produce and flavourful wines, which visitors can sample at a range of gourmet restaurants and cafés.

There is a lot of South African history to be unpacked in this town, so a visit to the Village Museum, a group of four houses dating from 1709 to 1850, which have been carefully restored and furnished in the original style, and the Rupert Museum focusing on South African art is worth the while.

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