With an estimated number of 3,000 tribes spread across all 54 countries, it is clear as to why Africa has such a rich heritage. Different dialects from one tribe to the other not forgetting the beliefs, history and our cultures. All together in one big basket, is the rich and breathtaking Africa’s heritage.
But this is not all. Africa boasts of some of the most spectacular sceneries, an array of wildlife and cultural sites. UNESCO has so far listed 129 sites across Africa as World Heritage Sites. These are based on their cultural and natural qualities. Of the 129, there are 84 cultural sites, 40 are under magnificent natural qualities and the remaining 5 having both the natural and cultural qualities.
One of my motto’s this year was to travel across Africa, see as many sites as possible and witness the wealth that is our culture. Unfortunately, my wallet does not seem to agree with this at the moment. And so, in celebration of Africa’s heritage here are a few of Africa’s Heritage places you cannot afford to miss. Hopefully, this will also help you add a few places to your travel bucket list.
Africa’s Culture per Country
Grouped in 13 categories by UNESCO, these cultural places share nature, some share a record of the evolution of mankind as well as origins, some share human history as well as rock formations with art and towns that developed through trade. Here are a few countries to visit and the listed UNESCO World Heritage sites.
There are eight listed sites in Algeria, a North African country. One of the places you ought to visit if you want to see both Natural and cultural places is Tassili n’Ajjer National Park. It covers 72,000 km² of the Sahara Desert, on a plateau with magnificent geological and scenic views. It is here that you will find one of the rarest trees in the world, Cupressus dupreziana var dupreziana. This species of The Saharan cypress is marked as endangered. The Neolithic art on the caves in this area go way back to 8000-1500 years ago. They showcase the evolution and migrations of humans and animals as well as climatic changes.
M’zab valley is on the South side of Algiers. It occupies 40 km² of the Sahara and under the cultural sites. It offers you a mixture of cultural traditions, and a scenic view of the environment. Here, you will also experience an interchange of values from the five towns spread across the region.
Other sites to visit in Algeria for cultural value are Timgad, Kasbah of Algiers, Tipasa, Djémila and Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad.
Ethiopia has nine Places listed by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. It offers you more than just its rich and ancient culture.
In northern Ethiopia, Simien Mountains National Park will treat you to its beauty, and is home to a number of endangered species such as Ethiopian Wolf, the Bearded Vulture, and the Walia Ibex. The scenery of the mountain, too, will leave you awed thanks to the canyons and the ridges. It is among natural sites under UNESCO.
For a taste of one of Ethiopia’s unaltered culture for the past 400 years, Konso’s Cultural Landscape treats you to an isolated community of people in Southern Ethiopia. The people here live in thatched huts made of mud and wood. The Lower Valley of Awash near Ethiopia’s and Djibouti’s border, on the Northeastern end of the Great Valley, has been under excavation since 1973. There are fossils dating back to 4 million years in this region.
Other places to visit in Ethiopia include Lower Valley of the Omo, Tiya and Harar Jugol- the Fortified Historic Town among others.
There are only two places under the UNSECO African World Heritage Sites. For the lovers of history and art, the Chongoni Rock Art Area is the place to be. It is actually on my bucket-list. The area has forested hills that have 127 rock shelter. These shelters have art inscriptions, and are one of the richest art inscriptions in Central Africa.
The inscriptions made of white clay are believed to have been over the past 1,000 years by Chewa agriculturalist migrants. The red paintings, on the other hand, are believed to have been made by previous Batwa occupants. The previous occupants were hunter- gatherers.
The Lake Malawi National Park on the Southern end of Lake Malawi has 12 islands and 4 shorelines. Lake Malawi is renowned for its 3,000 species of fish- the largest in the world. It also has over 800 species of Cichlidae. Of these, only five species can be found elsewhere in the world.
For a taste of one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the world, and maybe one of the best natural places not only in Africa, a visit to Victoria Falls is a must. This might just be the highlight of Africa’s heritage! It is actually at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Zambezi river stretches for more than 2 km in width at this point.
The native name for this place is Mosi-ao Tunya (smoke that thunders),. The name resonates so well considering the fact that the plume from the waterfall is visible from about 20km away.
For another natural site, Mana Pools National Park will treat you to one of Africa’s richest ecosystems. From this area, you can see woodlands and an array of wildlife such as elephants.
Our list is not extensive, of course,. However, saving these countries on your bucket-list will fulfill one of your traveling desires. It will also quench the thirst of experiencing Africa’s heritage. Other countries to visit include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Tunisia and many others.