Get active at SA’s top Heritage Sites

Heritage Month is a time to reflect on what it means to be South African. It is a combination of our rich culture, diversity and most importantly the past and present which has shaped the growth of our beautiful country and its people.

That’s why this month at BODYTEC we want to celebrate South Africa and revel in the idea that our heritage sites are not only beautiful and a part of our culture but they also provide us with the perfect spaces to go outside and get active.

It is okay to admit that 2020 has been extremely strange and testing, but as life returns to the new norm, it is important to recognise the freedom we do have to be outdoors and enjoy every aspect of it. As individuals get outside and test our performance, get a sweat on and become that much fitter, we can also come together, as a community of people dedicated to a healthy lifestyle. Let’s move together and share our national identity in the celebration of what South African heritage sites have to offer.

The question is “how many steps did you do today?”, always wondering why it really matters. Walking has been said to be one of the best exercises out there. With benefits ranging from reducing heart disease to improving blood pressure and reducing the risk of obesity. According to world averages, South Africans take about 4000 steps a day which is 20% less than the global average. However, if walking is not really your style try something new or do that sport you always wanted to try – take a cycle around the heritage sites or get your friends involved and try to do a half marathon to one of these beautiful places. Of course, always make sure to follow social distancing and government regulations. No matter how you want to perform and enjoy your own capabilities, let’s get moving this month. Let’s be intentional in the strides we make and why not do it at the same time as exploring and going on an adventure at some of South Africa’s most historically-meaningful sites.

Feeling inspired you to get outside and move?

South Africa’s 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be a part of your next adventure:

Cradle of Humankind – Gauteng:

Home to more than 3 dozen limestone caves containing fossils and the 2.3 million year old ‘Mrs Ples’ fossil found in the Sterkfontein Cave, The Cradle of Humankind (located 50km northwest of Johannesburg) is 183 square miles contain some of the earliest hominid fossils ever discovered. Most recently, in early 2010 a school child (son of paleoanthropologist Prof. Lee Berger) discovered the ‘Karabo’ skull belonging to a young male hominid dating back almost 2 million years at this site.

uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park – KwaZulu-Natal:

Just two hours’ drive from Durban, the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park is a slice of heaven here on earth. It boasts Africa’s highest mountain range south of Kilimanjaro. With endless, rolling grasslands, river valleys and gorges, and a wealth of flora and fauna the site is perfect for nature lovers. History and geology buffs are also drawn to this World Heritage Site for the ancient San rock paintings that decorate the walls of caves in the park. Bird watchers can look out for some of the 300-plus species of birds that live in this Eden, while game seekers can keep an eye open for the many buck species, the baboons, porcupines and hyrax.

iSimangaliso (Formerly Greater St Lucia) Wetland Park – KwaZulu-Natal:

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park has rich biodiversity and boasts more species than the Kruger National Park. These include SA’s the largest concentration of hippopotamus, sea turtles, elephants, humpback whales and over 521 bird species. The St Lucia Estuary is the largest on the African continent. It boasts the world’s largest forested sand dunes (up to 180m. The Park has 5 individual ecosystems – the marine system, eastern shores, lake system, Mkuze and Umfolozi swamps and the western shores.

The Park comprises:

  • St Lucia Game Reserve
  • False Bay Park
  • St Lucia Marine Reserve
  • Sodwana Bay National Park
  • Maputoland Marine Reserve
  • Cape Vidal
  • Ozabeni
  • Mfabeni
  • Tewate Wilderness Area
  • Mkuze Game Reserve

Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape – Limpopo:

Mapungubwe (Place of the Stone of Wisdom) was South Africa’s first kingdom. It is located on the northern border of South Africa, adjoining Zimbabwe and Botswana. Although it was discovered back in 1932, this Iron Age site was kept secret from the public until as recently as 1993, (just prior to South Africa’s first democratic elections) because it contained strong evidence of a highly advanced indigenous society existing centuries before European colonialism spread across Africa – and that ran contrary to the racist ideology of apartheid.

The Cape Floral Kingdom – Western Cape to Eastern Cape:

Stretching from the Cape Peninsula to the Eastern Cape, the Cape Floral Kingdom consists of eight protected areas:

  • Table Mountain National Park
  • Cedarburg Wilderness Area
  • Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area
  • Boland Mountain Complex
  • De Hoop Nature Reserve
  • Bosmansbos Nature Reserve
  • Swartberg Complex
  • Baviaanskloof (this one is the only area that crosses into the Eastern Cape)

The Cape Floral Kingdom consists mostly (80%) of Fynbos, a plant indigenous to South Africa. The Peninsula alone is home to more than 2 285 species of flora, 90 of which are endemic. Apart from Fynbos, the Cape Floral Kingdom also includes Renosterveld, Succulent Karoo, Sub-tropical Thicket and Afromontane.

Robben Island – Western Cape:

Robben Island, world-renowned location of the political prison where Nelson Mandela and many other Freedom Fighters spent years incarcerated, is situated about 12 kilometres off the coast of Cape Town. A popular tourist destination, Robben Island was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999. It can be reached via ferry from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Daily tours are conducted by former prisoners. Call ahead to book your visit to Robben Island as there are sometimes problems with the ferry service. Weather can also affect tours.

Vredefort Dome – Free State:

The Vredefort Dome forms part of a larger meteorite impact structure and dates back 2,023 million years. It is the oldest, largest and most deeply eroded astrobleme found on earth so far. According to scientists, the Vredefort Dome (which has a radius of 190km) resulted in devastating global change, as well as major evolutionary changes. It is older than the Chixculub structure in Mexico (65 million years old), which is said to be the site of the impact that led to the extinction of Dinosaurs.

Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape – Northern Cape:

The most recently added site to the list of South Africa’s 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape is a dramatic mountainous desert in the Northern Cape Province, owned and managed by the Nama community who are direct descendants of the Khoi Khoi who once lived here.

The Richtersveld boasts extreme landscapes comprising rugged kloofs, high mountains and a harsh climate. Photographers and artists will find plenty of inspiration here. Visit one of the 3 small Nama villages in the region – Kuboes, Lekkersing and Eksteenfontein – to learn more about the Nama people and history. Take time to discover just some of the 650 plus species of plant life that thrive in this dry, barren-looking park. Animal lovers may be lucky enough to spot buck, monkeys, baboons, zebra and even the leopard – although this last is extremely elusive.

[Ref: Portfolio Collection]

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