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2 billion years ago, a meteorite the size of Table Mountain slammed into the Earth with unimaginable force, about 120km south west of Johannesburg. UNESCO describes this impact event as ‘the world’s greatest known single energy release event’ and the crater it left behind was enormous, measuring between 200 and 300 kilometers across and up to 50 kilometers deep.
This crater soon began to collapse, however, and the rock layers at the centre of the crater rebounded from the immense pressure to form a dome-shaped uplift in the middle of the impact site. This central dome of uplifted rock is the Vredefort Dome.
Today, most of the original crater and dome have eroded away to form the fertile soils of the Free State farmlands. But a small remnant remains in the form of a ring of mountain-land, located between the modern Free State towns of Parys and Potchefstroom. For years, geologists argued about the origin of the unusual geology and twisted rock strata of this region, but it was only in the last decade that the Vredefort Dome was conclusively proven to have been caused by a meteorite impact. As the oldest and largest impact structure on Earth, the Vredefort Dome was declared a World Heritage Site in 2005.
For the modern visitor, the Dome Mountain Land offers a powerful and rugged landscape that is begging to be explored. Apart from the mountains themselves, the Vaal River winds through the region and offers many exciting activities, such as kayaking, mountain biking and waterskiing. Hiking, abseiling and other adventure sports are also available, and there are dozens of B&Bs, holiday resorts and cosy retreats tucked into the hills offering every kind of accommodation option. For an extra treat, visit the nearby town of Parys, which boasts a charming high street filled with antique shops, art galleries and restaurants.
Best of all, the Vredefort Dome is an easy day drive from Johannesburg, so take the trip and discover this great vacation destination for yourself.
This comprehensive guide offers a detailed overview of the cosmic system of impact dynamics which created much of the universe (and wiped out the dinosaurs). It also has a wealth of information for the tourst, including maps, photographs, listings of accommodation options, activities and suggested routes through the region.
Praise for the Southbound World Heritage series:
“These are fantastically comprehensive guides… packed full of information and beautiful photographs, and small enough to slip inside a backpack” – Jane Strode, Daily Sun
“Handy travel companions… these guides may be small but they’re literally jam-packed with information… making these guides holiday must-haves for an informed and more enjoyable trip” – Longevity magazine
“These handy books are accessible for everyone from the lay person to geologists and scientists, answering all your questions regarding these sites” – Saturday Dispatch
“…compact pocket guides packed with info, maps and colourful pictures” – 50/50
“They are a celebration of various aspects of South African culture, including our historical inheritance and the land on which we live” – Diane de Beer, Pretoria News
“There’s this marvellous new collection of pocket guides by Southbound, each highlighting a specific World Heritage Site in South Africa… Easy to use and fun to read, the pocket guides are a must for anyone remotely interested in our country’s heritage” – Independent on Saturday
“These books reveal fascinating parts of our country that many of us aren’t properly aware of. They’d make excellent gifts, singly or collectively, and are great primers for planning a holiday” – Bruce Denhill, The Citizen
“All [eight] of South Africa’s World Heritage Sites are covered, each in a manageable pocket guide which provides a remarkable amount of information for the edification of the serious eco-tourist… comprehensive contents… an extensive amount of information” – Carol Knoll, Environmental Management
“…intensely practical… fantastic series to buy” – Jenny Crwys-Williams, Talk Radio 702
“…these are among the best we have – opinionated and full of personality” – Patricia McCracken, Farmer’s Weekly
112 pages, softcover, black and white with colour photo inserts, dimensions: 180x100mm