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Culture & heritage

© Jennifer Stern© Jennifer SternExploring other cultures is an adventure in the true sense of the word – in that it takes you out of your known comfort zone and offers you a new way of looking at the world. Culture is almost as hard to define as adventure or ecotourism, but our understanding of culture is the manner in which individuals and communities express their way of doing things and of seeing the world. Of course, there is an overlap, as there always is. Cultural tourism is undoubtedly a form of ecotourism in the true sense, and many rural communities host fabulous adventures, which offer the opportunity to interact with your hosts as well as enjoying a fun activity in a great environment.

Southern Africa and South Africa have some wonderful cultural experiences like food & wine tasting, performance art, visual arts & crafts, festivals, and cultural villages. Visits to farms and mining and industrial sites or museums offer an insight into the economies of southern Africa. Exploring our countryside and cities will expose you to many aspects of contemporary & traditional African culture and offer the opportunity to meet interesting people.

There is no stone, no tree and no river course that doesn’t have a story to tell but, if there are no people to interpret that story, it will stay unknown forever. So, while there are many places in southern Africa that have seen momentous events, only a few of them are sufficiently well documented or understood to be considered historical destinations. There are historical buildings, museums and monuments in almost all the cities and towns, and each tells a particular story. Sites of historical interest include those relevant to apartheid and the freedom struggle, which can be found all over South Africa, and some very well preserved historical battlefields.

History is the written record of the past, so prehistory is the non-written record of the past – passed down through oral tradition or discovered by archaeological research. Southern Africa has many interesting archaeological and palaeontological sites that are worth exploring, including the Cradle of Humankind, rock art sites, stone age diggings and the remains of iron age settlements.

If you don’t fancy working out all the details yourself, there are loads of excellent specialist guided tours, and the many cultural villages showcase different aspects of traditional lifestyles.

To really get a feel for any society, though, you should spend some time with local people, either by doing a home or village stay, or joining some kind of volunteer programme.

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