Covering an area of 240 000 hectares, the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park is dominated by sheer cliffs, deeply incised valleys and crystal clear rivers. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000 for both its natural beauty and cultural importance.
The many rivers, wetlands, indigenous forests and the rolling grasslands are home to a diverse range of animals and plants, including many endemic and endangered species. The Cranes and the Blue Swallow are all critically endangered – fortunately viable populations do still exist in this area of South Africa.
In addition to recognising the unique natural beauty of the Drakensberg, the World Heritage Site also focuses world attention on the park’s rich collection of rock art – the last visible signs of the ancient Bushman or San people.
International recognition was granted in acknowledgement of the park’s unique richness of biological diversity, its endemic and endangered species, its superlative natural beauty and its masterpiece of human creative genius in the form of ten of thousands of Bushman San rock paintings. Image
The Bushman San people are recognised as the indigenous inhabitants of the sub-continent. In centuries past they inhabited practically the entire sub-continent, and are regarded as “embodying the essence of southern Africa’s deep past”. Yet there is no monument to the Bushman San people – other than their own art.
Within the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park there are some 600 sites, collectively representing over 35000 individual images. Remarkably, the rock art in the park is better preserved than any other region south of the Sahara.
The oldest painting on a rock shelter wall in the park is about 2400 years old, while more recent creations date back to the late nineteenth century. Many of the sites contain scenes depicting hunting, dancing, fighting, food gathering and rituals.