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Cultural Heritage

From the spectacular African history of Mapungubwe Hill or the famous red-and-white lighthouse at Africa’s southernmost point in Agulhas to the storytelling of the Nama people – conservation and exhibition of cultural heritage lies very much at the heart of SANParks activities.

Many known historical sites can be found in national parks and some are already open for the public. However, a lot of cultural sites, rock art shelters, burial grounds and historical buildings still need to be identified and protected-and People and Conservation play a active role in this.

Besides their role as custodians sites of cultural and historical significance, People and Conservation promotes indigenous knowledge and facilitates the traditional passing on of oral history. Not only will all of this boost national pride and the rediscovery of lost identities – it also opens up opportunities for increased tourism, improved relations with communities, education and job creation.

Current opportunities for cultural tourism include

Archaeological sites – The historical wonders of Mapungubwe can be admired by booking a guided heritage tour. Popular sites in Kruger National Park include Thulamela and Masorini. Most other parks also have a variety of Stone Age and Iron Age sites.

Rock art – Impressive and very old rock art was left by San and Khoekhoen throughout South Africa. Parks like Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site, Tsitsikamma Area of the Garden Route National Park, Mountain Zebra National Park and Kruger National Park offer opportunities to visit those shelters.

Historical buildings – From remnants of old kingdoms to old colonial buildings and the Agulhas Lighthouse.

Fossils – Look for them in Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Karoo National Park, and Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site,or find Eve’s footprints in the West Coast National Park.

Ancestral graves – Can be found in most parks.

Historical war sites – Battlegrounds of the Anglo-Boer war can be found in Golden Gate Highlands National Park.

Traditional storytelling – Oral history associated with specific sites, indigenous fauna and flora is important in for example Namaqua National Park, Richtersveld National Park, and Augrabies Falls National Park.

Local Cultural Experiences – Indigenous music, dance and other cultural performances are sometimes offered by cultural groups in various parks.

For more information – send an e-mail to Edgar Neluvhalani, Manager: Cultural Heritage

Support our Cutural Heritage Programme

SANParks acknowledges South Africa’s rich and diverse tangible and intangible cultural heritage and is committed to ensuring the safeguarding of this heritage in the areas under its jurisdiction.

The main purpose of this programme is to conceptualise, plan, strengthen and oversee implementation of Cultural Resource Management and Indigenous Knowledge in all National parks. Want to know more about this programme and how you can help, click here.