Culture Rich Destinations South Africa

Heritage & Culture Travel Themes

Heritage and culture plays an important role in Africa. Each country have a unique culture that is rich and diverse and varies not only from one country to another, but within each country itself. The culture of each ethnic group centers on family and can be found in each group’s art, music and oral literature. From storytelling through oral literature to traditions, dialects, arts and music, indigenous culture persist. And we couldn’t agree more when Victoria falls guide describe the unification of communities. “In African culture, the “self” is not separate from the world, it is united and intermingled with the natural and social environment. It is through relations with one’s community and surroundings that an individual becomes a person of volition, whose actions and decisions affect the entire group rather than just oneself. There is a Xhosa proverb that is common to all African cultures and languages, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” (“A person is a person through persons”).” Or as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. We hope to take you on this journey to understand and appreciate African culture by highlighting cultural nuances, heritage and traditions of each country that seem to have tremendous influence in the world.

Heritage & Culture Travel Themes

Heritage and culture plays an important role in Africa. Each country have a unique culture that is rich and diverse and varies not only from one country to another, but within each country itself. The culture of each ethnic group centers on family and can be found in each group’s art, music and oral literature. From storytelling through oral literature to traditions, dialects, arts and music, indigenous culture persist. And we couldn’t agree more when Victoria falls guide describe the unification of communities. “In African culture, the “self” is not separate from the world, it is united and intermingled with the natural and social environment. It is through relations with one’s community and surroundings that an individual becomes a person of volition, whose actions and decisions affect the entire group rather than just oneself. There is a Xhosa proverb that is common to all African cultures and languages, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” (“A person is a person through persons”).” Or as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. We hope to take you on this journey to understand and appreciate African culture by highlighting cultural nuances, heritage and traditions of each country that seem to have tremendous influence in the world.

HUMAN ORIGINS
Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa

The Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa (dubbed the ‘Cradle of Humankind’) lies 45 km west of Johannesburg. It includes a number of caves and dig sites at 13 separate locations within an undulating landscape of low hills along a dolomitic limestone ridge. The importance of the area was discovered accidentally, as a result of fossil finds during limestone quarrying. Today the quarrying has ceased and the site is being excavated and explored more systematically for its scientific values. The whole area (470 km2) is under private ownership, and most of the excavation sites are not accessible to the general public. The world heritage site was extended in 2006 to include two more distant localities – the Taung Skull Fossil Site (which lies in Northwest Province about 350 km WSW of Sterkfontein), and the Makapan Valley (about 300 km to the north-east in Limpopo Province).

ROCK-ART & PRE-HISTORY - Maloti-Drakensberg Park (South Africa & Lesotho)

The Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains form a steep escarpment along South Africa’s border with the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. It is one of the five world heritage sites in Africa that satisfy the Convention’s natural and cultural criteria. From a cultural perspective it is outstanding for the wealth of its rock art heritage, created over a period of about 4,000 years by San hunter-gatherer people. The San and their ancestors have lived in rock shelters and caves in these mountains for about 8,000 years, producing an incredible quantity and variety of paintings right up until the time the last San were driven out (or killed) from the area a little over 100 years ago.

​There are more than 600 individual rock-art sites ranging from large rock-shelters containing over 1,000 individual images to small rock overhangs or the vertical faces of fallen boulders with only a few paintings. More than 22,000 individual paintings have been recorded, mostly images of animals, especially eland – a type of large antelope that was clearly revered as the San’s most important hunting quarry. Many sites show scenes of hunting, dancing, fighting, food gathering, ritual and trance. Human subjects often appear naked, but some of the more recent images show dressed figures clad in a variety of garments, recalling the early days of the colonial era.

LIVING TRADITIONAL LANDSCAPES -ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape

The ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape coincides with the boundaries of South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, located in the extreme northwest of the country, bordering Namibia and Botswana. It is a harsh desert environment in which the ǂKhomani-San people have lived in close association with nature as a nomadic hunter-gatherer community for millennia. The inclusion of the area on the world heritage list recognises the cultural importance of this association between the ǂKhomani-San people and this part of their traditional homeland. The world heritage listing has been possible through the recent restoration of land rights to the ǂKhomani-San people, following their forced removal in 1930 when the national park was established.

Designated as a cultural landscape, the site includes landmarks of ǂKhomani-San history, migration, livelihoods, memory and resources. The ǂKhomani-San people developed a specific ethnobotanical knowledge, cultural practices and a worldview related to the geographical features of their desert environment. So it is the cultural association with various landscape features, rather than any archaeological evidence or physical alteration to the natural environment, which the world heritage committee considered sufficient to justify the area’s designation as a world heritage cultural landscape.

LIVING TRADITIONAL LANDSCAPES - Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (South Africa)

Mapungubwe cultural landscape is located in the extreme north of South Africa, near the border with Zimbabwe and Botswana. For about 400 years, between 900 and 1300 AD it was the centre of perhaps the greatest Kingdom in southern Africa, based on trade in gold and ivory through the Swahili trading ports of eastern Africa. It was subsequently eclipsed by the development of Great Zimbabwe, 250 km to the north (which was at its zenith between 1300 and 1450 AD), and then a later kingdom based at Khami (1450 to 1650). Today, little remains of the settlements that existed, but meticulous archaeological work has revealed the remains of three palaces, evidence of a complex social structure, large quantities of clay figurines (suggesting some kind of centralised ritual ceremonies), and evidence of iron and copper working.

LIVING TRADITIONAL LANDSCAPES - Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape (South Africa)

The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical landscape is located in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, along the Orange River border with Namibia. It is an area of semi-desert, in which the Nama people still practice a form of transhumance, moving seasonally with their livestock to suitable grazing areas. The Nama are the direct descendents of the original Khoi-Khoi people who lived across much of southern Africa in the millennia before the arrival of Europeans and African Bantu tribes. Their lifestyle, moving between stock outposts and living in collapsible reed-mat houses, would have been typical of peoples across the semi-arid lands of southern Africa, but is now limited to this relatively small area. This form of traditional stock management has not only enabled people to live in this hostile environment, but has also contributed to the protection of the diverse Succulent Karoo vegetation.

EUROPEAN COLONIAL INFLUENCES - Robben Island (South Africa)

Robben Island is located about 9 km off the South African coast near Cape Town. It is the site of the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 20 years, alongside others who fought against the racist policies of the (white) Apartheid government of the time. The Island has come to symbolize the triumph of the human spirit, of freedom, and of democracy over oppression. In fact, use of the island as a prison dates back to the early years of colonization, soon after van Riebeck arrived in 1657 to establish a Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope.

EARTH'S CRUST Vredefort Dome - South Africa

​The Vredefort Dome world heritage site encompasses the central part of the oldest and largest meteorite impact site known on earth. The entire meteorite impact structure (or astrobleme) has a radius of impact of 190 km, while the section designated as a world heritage site features an eroded ‘crater rim’ of low hills with upturned quartzite rock strata and other features of the impact. It is one of about 200 meteorite impact structures currently known on Earth, of which only three have a diameter greater than 150 km. It is the only world heritage site in Africa that is primarily under private ownership, encompassing 149 farm properties.

Succulent Karoo - Namibia & South Africa

The Succulent Karoo biome extends across a wide swathe of South Africa and Namibia, covering some 116,000km2. A suitable representative network of priority areas is being identified for a serial world heritage listing, which is likely to include some existing national parks (see map). The Succulent Karoo, which consists primarily of winter rainfall desert, is one of only two desert biodiversity hotspots in the world. For an arid region, it has extraordinarily high plant diversity and endemism, including the world’s richest succulent flora. Some 40 percent of the 6,356 plant species occur nowhere else on the planet.

South African Tribal Beads, Dress, & other Cultural Significance

Cultural Influence on Daily Life

Popular Festivals

Accommodations

Situated on a private quay between Cape Town’s bustling V&A Waterfront and the tranquil yacht marina, there is no better position from where to soak in the natural beauty of our Mother City and the very essence of Cape Town living at its best.
Mont Rochechelle is known to cultivate grapes of the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties amongst a few others. The vineyards are situated between 250m and 400m above sea level exposing the grapes to a range of micro climates.
MalaMala Game Reserve is the Safari Industry’s blueprint to the luxury photographic safari. This enormous tract of land offers unparalleled wildlife viewing. MalaMala is the only game reserve in this region where the benefits of tourism directly support adjacent communities.
Dating to 1902, this luxe boutique hotel is on a cliff at the town centre’s edge, overlooking gardens to the Indian Ocean. It’s 1.4 km from Hermanus Golf Club and 3.9 km from Fernkloof Nature Reserve.
Widely known as Cape Town’s hidden gem, Tintswalo Atlantic is a 5 star, award-winning boutique lodge nestled at the base of the ocean-facing Table Mountain National Park. Sitting at the foot of Chapman’s Peak, the lodge is perched on a pebbled beach and enjoys panoramic views of the picturesque Hout Bay harbor, the dramatic Sentinel mountain peak, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
Set at the foot of Table Mountain, this sleek boutique hotel in a contemporary building is 6 km from Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town’s residential Oranjezicht district.
The 11 glam, uniquely styled suites have balconies, living areas, antiques, original artwork, and/or bay or mountain views, plus free Wi-Fi and minibars (no TVs). Grand bathrooms feature free-standing tubs. Room service is available.
The Cape’s first farm, established in 1682, has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Roughly 30 minutes from the bustling heart of Cape Town, Steenberg is a destination steeped in heritage.
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Situated on a private quay between Cape Town’s bustling V&A Waterfront and the tranquil yacht marina, there is no better position from where to soak in the natural beauty of our Mother City and the very essence of Cape Town living at its best.
Mont Rochechelle is known to cultivate grapes of the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties amongst a few others. The vineyards are situated between 250m and 400m above sea level exposing the grapes to a range of micro climates.
MalaMala Game Reserve is the Safari Industry’s blueprint to the luxury photographic safari. This enormous tract of land offers unparalleled wildlife viewing. MalaMala is the only game reserve in this region where the benefits of tourism directly support adjacent communities.
Dating to 1902, this luxe boutique hotel is on a cliff at the town centre’s edge, overlooking gardens to the Indian Ocean. It’s 1.4 km from Hermanus Golf Club and 3.9 km from Fernkloof Nature Reserve.
Widely known as Cape Town’s hidden gem, Tintswalo Atlantic is a 5 star, award-winning boutique lodge nestled at the base of the ocean-facing Table Mountain National Park. Sitting at the foot of Chapman’s Peak, the lodge is perched on a pebbled beach and enjoys panoramic views of the picturesque Hout Bay harbor, the dramatic Sentinel mountain peak, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
Set at the foot of Table Mountain, this sleek boutique hotel in a contemporary building is 6 km from Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town’s residential Oranjezicht district.
The 11 glam, uniquely styled suites have balconies, living areas, antiques, original artwork, and/or bay or mountain views, plus free Wi-Fi and minibars (no TVs). Grand bathrooms feature free-standing tubs. Room service is available.
The Cape’s first farm, established in 1682, has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Roughly 30 minutes from the bustling heart of Cape Town, Steenberg is a destination steeped in heritage.
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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

No, if visiting 90 days or less. Yellow fever at least 10 days before arrival is required for travelers originating from or transiting through WHO-designated yellow fever countries.

In general, the water in large urban areas is potable and safe to drink in South Africa. Check below for city specific information.

– Bloemfontein
– Cape Town
– Durban
– East London
– Johannesburg
– Kimberley
– Newcastle
– Port Elizabeth
– Port Nolloth
– Pretoria
– Upington

However, in rural areas within South Africa, the water should be considered contaminated. Bring all tap water to a good rolling boil if you want to drink, brush your teeth or make ice cubes. Otherwise, buy capped bottled water from reputable brands.

In South Africa, internet connections can be slower and more expensive than in other developed countries, but the internet service sector is evolving. You can access the internet easily in most South African cities. Land line companies offer ADSL, ISDN, Digitnet, and leased lines. Satellite and wireless are also offered by land line companies, as well as small providers and mobile phone providers.

There is also free Wi-Fi services at local restaurants, hotels, business centres, or going online from internet cafés located at business and shopping centres.

All major credit cards can be used in South Africa. If you have a so-called “chipcard”, you will be required to enter a pin code. Pin-based debit cards are often accepted too.

ATMs are common in South African cities and accept the major card providers. 

Across all the banking groups, Standard Bank is the only one to have actually reduced its withdrawal fees over the last 5 years, with a number of forumla changes cutting the cost to access funds. In 2012, the bank charged R9.75 to withdraw R500 – the highest cost out of all the banks – reducing this by 7.7% to only R9.00 in 2017.

South Africa’s unit of currency is the Rand, which is divided into 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200; and coins come in 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5. There are two R5 coins in circulation, both of which are legal currency. All transactions are rounded down to the nearest 5c.

With a favorable exchange rate for many international currencies, you’ll find South Africa an inexpensive destination, with excellent access to banking and foreign exchange facilities.

All passengers traveling with Trailblazer Travelz are highly recommended to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

While South Africa has no legislation regarding tipping, it is customary to leave a tip of at least 10% of your bill at restaurants and bars.

If you are driving around, you will notice car guards patrolling streets where there is free parking. While you are under no obligation to tip these car guards, it is customary to do so if they have looked after your car for more than 30 minutes. While the amount is at your discretion, locals would normally tip an official car guard about R5.

In South Africa, petrol and diesel is administered by attendants. At most service stations, attendants will offer to wash your windows, as well as check your car’s oil and tire pressure. This is part of the service and you are under no obligation to provide a tip unless you would like to.

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