My parents made the big trip out to visit us, and we didn’t let them have a moment of rest. As they had already been to South Africa twice before, we decided to take them along on a road trip to Botswana. For two days, we drove north through the middle of the country, across the Kalahari Desert. It was the end of winter, the dry season, and the great Kalahari was desperately parched. The landscape was nothing but flat, dusty plains as far as the eye could see. We would go hours without passing a single town, the only signs of life being forlorn donkeys and cattle, and even they looked achingly thirsty.
1000 years ago, a city formed where no city had existed before. On the top of a steep rocky outcropping, a king lived with his many wives.
A year ago this week, Spencer and I were about as far away from South Africa as geographically possible. We were 10,000 miles away in Alaska, experiencing a wilderness totally unlike Africa.
Back in February, I posted about my goal of seeing as many UNESCO World Heritage sites as possible. Since then, we have managed to visit 14 sites, across five countries. We still have two more to see here in South Africa, plus at least four more countries to visit before we leave, to try and make a dent in the 937 sites left to see.
We have been off the grid for the last few weeks on a Zimbabwean safari with Spencer’s parents and siblings. It was a trip of a lifetime, and I am so excited to share it all. The adventure started at the seventh natural wonder of the world, Victoria Falls.
I have struggled to describe the places we saw in Namibia without resorting to comparing them to other places, both real and fictional. So for this last installment, I am just going to give in to the urge, in the hopes that it helps provide a sense of the amazing places we visited.
There is only one way to reach the town of Luderitz by car. It is a 125 km drive west from the nearest town of Aus, and for the entire length of that drive, there is virtually nothing but sand as far as the eye can see.
Just a short drive outside of Johannesburg, unassuming tracts of farmland and rolling hills hide the scientific garden of eden. Here, an area of just 180-square miles has produced some of the oldest hominid fossils ever found. More than 40% of human ancestor fossils found in the world have been unearthed here, and they have provided vital clues in piecing together the story of where humans came from. It was from this sites that science was able to determine that all of humanity came to be in Africa. The scientific discoveries made here, some as old as 3.5 million years, and the discoveries that continue to be made in the area, are why Cradle of Humankind is included as part of one of South Africa’s eight UNESCO world heritage sites.
In our quest to visit all 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Africa, we took a very slight detour on our trip to Mozambique. Just south of the Mozambican border sits Kosi Bay, part of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO site and an extraordinary place.