We’ve already covered four of the best places in South Africa to experience a little bit of history. Now, it’s high time that we showed you a few of the most historic places in the wider Southern African region.
Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe; all these countries have rich and interesting histories with amazing cultural landmarks and sites to explore, from ancient to more recent times. Plus, we just had to throw in one from South Africa.
Kangumene Rock Engravings, Mamumo Monument, Botswana
Found on the border between Botswana and Namibia, on the edge of the spectacular Okavango Delta, is this ancient human settlement. Featuring the handprints of children and adults who died millennia ago, along with poignant artwork of cattle and other animals, the Kangumene engravings are some of the most well-preserved ancient artwork in the whole of Africa.
They’re also rather mysterious, with many of the abstract symbols resisting attempts at direct translation – unlike many of the other petroglyph sites found in Namibia and across Southern Africa. Plus, the site’s remoteness and significance to the locals mean there aren’t many pictures of it online – so if you visit, you’ll be part of a truly exclusive club.
Kolmanskop was once a thriving mining community in the Namib desert, after German travellers discovered the area was rich in diamonds in 1908. Just over a century later this remote village has become one of the most famous ghost towns in the entire world.
Because of the huge wealth accrued by the original Diamond rush, Kolmanskop was one of the richest places in Namibia. It had all the accoutrements of Western lifestyles – in the middle of the desert. This included an x-ray machine at the local hospital, a casino, a school and a theatre.
However, the diamonds soon started to run out into the 1930s. Add to that the discovery of a bigger diamond field a few hundred miles south, and by 1950 the town was largely abandoned. Today Kolmanskop is a popular spot for film crews, photographers and explorers who cross the hot sands for a sobering experience of how fragile a society can actually be.
Sterkfontein Caves, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa
If the early 1900s is not old enough for you, then you might prefer this system of limestone caves about 40 miles North of Johannesburg. Sterkfontein, and the area known as the Cradle of Humankind more generally, are the discovery sites of over a third of all the ancient Hominid (ancestors of humans) fossils ever found.
One chamber was found to contain over 1500 separate remains that were suitable analysis. This was the largest discovery of its type ever in Africa. Being so suitably famous, and no so remote, the Sterkfontein caves also have the most equipped and modern visitor centre out of all these sites. This makes them more suitable for families with young children, older traveller or disabled visitors. All the laid out the places will surely marvel and astound any and all visitors, so give them a try if you have the opportunity.