Leading on from part 1, we now bring you the last four of South Africa’s eight UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Cape Floral Kingdom – Western Cape – Day Trip
The Cape Floral Kingdom is a roughly 53 000 hectare region stretching from the Western Cape into the Eastern Cape. It is incredibly special because despite only representing 1% of the African continent, it is home to 20% of Africa’s flora. Within the area there are 9000 fynbos species, of which 6200 are endemic!
The easiest place to get a glimpse of this plant diversity is by visiting the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town for a walk/hike or picnic. In its 22 000 hectares there is more plant diversity than the whole of the British Isles and New Zealand!
iSimangaliso Wetland Park – KwaZulu Natal – Minimum a week
iSimangaliso wetland is Africa’s largest estuarine system and South Africa’s premier World Heritage site. Within its bounds are numerous plant and animal species – including the world’s oldest fish (coelacanth) and the world’s oldest land mammal (rhino)- and myriad interlinked eco-systems.
There are also 3 major lake systems, some of the tallest coastal dunes in the world (which happen to be 25 000 years old) and most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forest is also found here. Furthermore you can witness 700 year old fishing techniques in operation in the estuary.
iSimangaliso is situated in the far north of South Africa, very close to the Mozambiquan border. The area is very rural and road infrastructure is not great. It’s best to go with a 4×4 or organise transport with one of the lodges.
Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park – KwaZulu Natal – Minimum 5 days
Aside from being exceptionally beautiful, the basalt cliffs, buttresses and other rock formations of the Drakensberg are unique in that they boast the largest collection of San rock art in Africa, south of the Sahara. While the San no longer live in this area, their traditions and depictions of daily life are evident in the caves and overhangs throughout the mountain’s slopes.The Drakensberg also offers a diversity of habitats which are home to many endemic and near-endangered species.
The Drakensberg Mountains provide a physical barrier between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. The slopes are awe-inspiring and there are many outdoor activities to not only entertain you, but bring you closer to the species which make the region so diverse.
Vredefort Dome – Free State – 1-2 Days
The Vredefort Dome is a fascinating site where a giant meteorite hit earth approximately 2013 million years ago. The original crater is 300 kilometres by 90 kilometres but over the years the crater shape has been eroded and now it’s just the dome shape (formed when the rocks bent under the pressure from the impact) and meteor impact structure in the centre of the crater which give the game away.
Vredefort Dome is the largest meteor impact site on earth and carries international significance in the international science and geology communities.
Today the crater is a mecca for outdoor sports and the small towns within the crater, especially Parys, are scenic and make a good base for exploring this extraordinary region.