Outstanding UNESCO World Heritage Sites in East Africa

World heritage sites are landmarks designated by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. These landmarks are considered to have outstanding significance to humanity in terms of culture, history, science and any other value.

Examples of World heritages sites include ancient ruins, forests, mountains, monuments, deserts, cities, lakes, wilderness, historical sites among others. These sites serve as evidence of human intellectual history and some have outstanding natural beauty show casing nature diversity.

East Africa is not new to such beauty and outstanding landmarks in terms of history, natural and cultural aspects. Below are some of East Africa’s best wonders listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites.

This among Africa’s largest protected areas covering a land area of 50,000 square kilometers. The reserve is located in southern Tanzania with some of world’s largest wildlife populations and undisturbed ecosystems.

Selous game reserve has a network of swamps, Rivers, forests and savanna vegetation all that are habitats of the different wildlife. Animals often seen here in large numbers include elephants, lions, buffaloes, Zebras and a number of bird species.

The reserve was included among wold heritage sites in 1982 due to its diversity. This should be on a bucket list of nature lovers seeking for exclusive African safaris. Wildlife activities done here include game drives, nature walks, balloon safaris, Boat cruises on Rufiji River, birding among others.

Selous Game Reserve, Wildlife Safaris, 7 Days Tanzania
Elephants in Selous Game Reserve Tanzania. Courtesy Photo

This iconic primates national park is located in southwestern Uganda and its a home to the endangered mountain gorillas. The park covers a land area of 321 square Kilometers and mainly consist of Montane and lowland forests.

The park is very diverse with over 120 mammal species, over 400 bird species and over 220 butterfly species. Other small wildlife species include about 27 species of frogs and reptiles including the rare three horned chameleon. There are also over 1000 flowering plant species, over 160 tree species and other vegetation species.

Though Bwindi impenetrable national Park is most famous for mountain gorillas, its a sanctuary for colobus monkeys, birds and chimpanzees. Bwindi made it to the list of World Heritage sites in 1994 a year after gorilla tracking was open to tourists. A visit to Uganda without gorilla tracking in Bwindi a missed opportunity therefore ensure not to miss it.

Baby Mountain Gorilla Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda. World Heritage Sites
Baby Mountain Gorilla Bwindi Uganda. Courtesy Photo

This is a combination of three national parks located around Lake Turkana in north western Kenya. These national parks include Sibiloi national park, central island and south Island national parks. All these cover a total land area of 161,485 hectares within the lake Turkana basin.

Lake Turkana is the second largest desert lake on the continent and its the most Saline lake in East Africa. Its major stopping point for migratory birds and East Africa’s major breeding ground for snakes, Nile Crocodiles and Hippos. The area also has fossils making it an archeological site.

Lake Turkana National parks were listed World heritage sites in 1997 and are among Kenya’s unique and outstanding wildlife destinations. While on a visit to magical Kenya you can spend several days in the north exploring this region.

Lake Turkana Shoreline in Sibiloi National Park. World Heritage Sites
Lake Turkana Shoreline in Sibiloi National Park. Courtesy Photo

Kahuzi Biega is located in Eastern DRC near Bukavu town and its home to the endangered Eastern Lowland gorillas. The park is among the biggest national parks in Democratic Republic of Congo covering a land area of 6,000 square kilometers.

The vast size of the park comes with wildlife diversity and with this, the park was listed among world heritage sites in 1980. Kahuzi Biega national park has east and Central Africa’s highest population of endemic wildlife species found in no other place except here.

Most outstanding species here and main reasons for inscription by UNESCO are various mammal species particularly lowland gorillas and the tropical rain-forests. The park is very safe for tourist visitation and can be visited anytime of the year.

Kahuzi Biega National Park. World Heritage Sites
Lowland Gorilla Kahuzi Biega National Park DRC. Photo by Shannon

This historical Fort is located in Mombasa Island that is part of the Republic of Kenya. The fort was built between 1593 and 1596 on order of the then Portuguese King Philip 1. The fort was built to guard the old port of Mombasa and it was successful move by Portugal a western power then to establish influence over Indian Ocean Trade.

The design of Fort Jesus was developed by Giovanni Battista Cairato who drew inspiration from Pietro Cataneo an Italian architect. The fort was built in a shape of a man when viewed from air. It covers an area of 2.36 hectares and its among well preserved examples of 16th Century Portuguese military fortification.

Fort Jesus was declared a World Heritage site in 2011 and its the most visited tourist attraction in Mombasa. While on a visit to East Africa Kenya in particular, ensure to add a visit to Fort Jesus on your itinerary.

Fort Jesus Mombasa. East Africa World Heritage Sites
Fort Jesus Mombasa. Photo By Mohamed Abbas

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