Experience the Northern Cape, South Africa

It’s official – the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape has been declared a World Heritage Site. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Committee inscribed the site on its prestigious World Heritage List during the 41st session that took place in Krakow, Poland, from 2 to 12 July.

This brings to nine the number of World Heritage Sites in South Africa, two of which are in the province of extremes. The other eight are: the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape; Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa; Maloti-Drakensberg Park; Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape; Vredefort Dome; Robben Island; iSimangaliso Wetland Park; and the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas.

The newly inscribed landscape covers close to 960 000ha in the Dawid Kruiper Municipality. This area includes the entire Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and parts of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Kalahari Red Dune Route Vinkie Tourism Enterprise
Red dunes. (Image: Northern Cape Tourism Authority )

The ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape has been home to at most a few hundred people, who have survived life in the extreme desert landscape of the southern Kalahari through their knowledge of the land. These communities are unique because they descend directly from an ancient population that existed in Southern Africa about 150 000 years ago, making them ancestors of the entire human race.

In her acceptance speech of the inscription, the Director General of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Nosipho Ngcaba, assured the World Heritage Committee and the ‡Khomani community of South Africa's commitment to support conservation efforts of the environment on the site as well the cultural heritage of the people who live there.

In his address to the session, a member of the ‡Khomani San community in the Kalahari, Dirk Pienaar, said the decision to declare this landscape as a World Heritage Site marked a long-awaited historical moment for the ‡Khomani San and all other San communities. He said as one of the most researched and documented cultures in the world, the communities and the site are finally being acknowledged for their universal value and importance.