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Obscure World Heritage Sites you should know



Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Every so often I meet people whose travel bucket lists include UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Most folks talk about those sites which are most famous and familiar, e.g., like the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, etc.   But, what about places which are lesser known to the general world public?  There are over 1,000 WHS around the globe, many of which a lot of people don’t know exist.  I love the idea of taking the road less traveled, and I have found some of the more obscure WH sites to be truly amazing.  Listed below are a few of them, with the dates of their WH designations.  Some of them were already on my own travel bucket list, others are new to me.  How many do you know?


  • 1978 – The Underground Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia

Thirteen Christian churches carved from rock directly into the ground about 1200 AD.  

  • 1979 – Dinosaur Provincial Park, Canada

One of the richest dinosaur fossil locations in the world, it includes 40 dinosaur species and almost 500 species of other life forms.  

  • 1979 – Bialowieza Forest, Belarus & Poland

This is an ancient woodland that is the only remaining example of the original forest that once covered most of Europe.

  • 1981 – Willandra Lakes Region, Australia

Aboriginal peoples have lived here for more than 50,000 years.  Found in the area is what is believed to be the oldest ritual cremation site ever discovered. 

  • 1985 – Huascaran National Park, Peru

This park covers most of the Cordillera Blanca (White Ridge), the highest tropical mountain range in the world.

  • 1993 – Bukhara, Uzbekistan

This ancient city is located along the Silk Road and is considered to be the most complete example of a medieval town in Central Asia.

  • 1996 – Leshon Giant Buddha, China

Carved into the face of a cliff at the convergence of three rivers in southern Sichuan Province, it is the largest stone Buddha in the world.

  • 1997 – Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, Santiago de Cuba

Said to be the world’s best preser ved  and most complete example of Spanish-American military architecture.  (Travel with us to Santiago de Cuba this month and see it for yourself).

  • 1999 – The Cradle of Humankind, South Africa

There are more than three dozen fossil-bearing caves in this limestone cave complex near Johannesburg.  In them are the greatest number of all hominid fossils ever found, dating back more than 3.5 million years.  This is the site that shows the origins of our species and evolution over millennia. (Visit these remarkable sites with us during our 2018 South African tour).
  • 2005 – Wadi Al-Hitan, Egypt

Known as the Whale Valley, this desert site contains fossils of whales, sea cows, sea turtles, crocodiles, and other sea animals.  It shows the evolution of whales from mammals to the ocean creatures of today.


The Travel Diva loves helping others experience world travel that engages, empowers, enlightens, and entertains.  Contact her at (313) 808-8018 or www.traveldiva@star1vacations.com.

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