Art, heritage, monuments and history – its a cultural safari in SA
Perhaps one of the most outstanding things about South African culture is that it’s not one single culture; but rather a diverse and vibrant mix of traditions, languages as well as people. We celebrate a number of cultural attractions in South Africa which are definitely worth visiting. Here are some of our favourites cultural spots…
As you make your way through the corridors of Robben Island; you get transported to a time in South African history where the country reached a turning point. Standing in the jail cell that housed Nelson Mandela for so many years brings to heart the emotional story of the South African struggle for democracy and equality. Today, you can catch a ferry ride to what is now called “The Robben Island Museum” and also experience an immersive experience tour led by former political prisoners who draw a vivid picture of life in prison. It’s one of the world’s greatest cultural heritage destinations both for its tragedy as well as its triumph.
Lesedi Cultural Village
At the Lesedi African Lodge and Cultural Village; you can experience the colourful sights and sounds of authentic African villages and learn about the ways of the Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Basotho, Nguni as well as Ndebele people. Traditional song and dance and a feast fit for a king top off an unforgettable day and night. Located near Hartbeespoort Dam in South Africa’s North West province; Lesedi African Lodge and Cultural Village is a flagship cultural tourism destination for visitors interested in learning more about South Africa’s traditional people and cultures.
Cradle of Humankind and Maropeng Visitors Centre
Maropeng is the official visitors’ centre for the Cradle of Humankind; a World Heritage Site. Its name means ‘returning to the place of origin’ in Setswana, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. At Maropeng Visitor Centre you will journey back in time from the start of our universe, some 14-billion years ago, to the present and beyond. There are more than a dozen major fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind, and as not all these sites are open to the public, the Maropeng centre provides visitors with an overview of the significance of the area as well as the story of human development.
Maloti-Drakensberg Heritage Route
If you’re into culture, art and crafts, the Maloti-Drakensberg Heritage Route is the place for you. From the landscape painters of Clarens as well as the Basotho cultural villages to the vast network of ancient rock art, it is here that South African culture comes to life on this unforgettable journey. The Maloti-Drakensberg Heritage Route is a joint eco-tourism initiative between South Africa as well as the Kingdom of Lesotho. The route covers about 13 000km2 of the most awe-inspiring mountain scenery along South Africa’s north-eastern border with Lesotho.
The Apartheid Museum, close to downtown Johannesburg; focuses on the notorious system of racial discrimination that became synonymous with South Africa from 1948; when the white-minority National Party was voted into power; until 1994, the year in which the country held its first fully democratic elections. Visitors to the museum are greeted with a very real reflection of what it was like to live in a racially segregated society. The museum has two entrances labelled ‘White’ as well as ‘Non-white’, and depending on which ticket you are issued, you will be ushered through one of the two.
South African Art Galleries and Museums
South African art galleries as well as museums are invaluable resources for understanding and interpreting the country’s history and cultures. Custodians of the past, these institutions also track the present and offer insight into the future. For the visitor to South Africa, local museums and galleries offer lots to explore and also wonder about. The country’s 300 plus museums are in prestigious historical buildings, in cutting-edge modern constructions, on university campuses, in cultural villages or in old houses. Some are even aspects of the natural landscape, such as the caves which protect ancient rock art. Some of the must-see galleries are Joburg Art Gallery, The Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank and in Cape Town visit the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA).
South Africa is full of cultural activities for you to enjoy all over the country; so start planning your cultural safari today!