South Africa has a lot of natural appeal, in its wildlife and national parks and mountain scenery. But it has many more layers to it than that.
It’s got diverse, rich culture, urban grit and world-class wine and dining – and then of course there’s also the apartheid legacy, which bears learning about. Here are seven things you need to know before you go.
A South African braai is absolutely a must-do on your trip. Expect plates laden high with salty, perfectly cooked meat, cooked over an open fire. Ribs, chicken, sausages, thinly sliced beef steaks – you definitely won’t go hungry. And they do Nando’s even better than Nando’s ‘Chicken dust’ is the strange-sounding origin of the UK’s favourite cheeky restaurant, and my God is it good. Straight up chicken grilled and spiced right in front of you, it’s fresh and totally delicious. There’s no mango and lime option here, though: prepare to set your mouth on fire. But even more popular is pap Less palatable to the taste buds of the uninitiated is South Africa’s staple food, pap. It’s almost impossible to describe, but it’s somewhere between porridge and rice, and tastes of, well, not a lot. Personally I was glad to be rid of the stuff, but for a lot of South Africans it’s the taste of home. Safari is every bit as exciting as you think it will be.
Going on safari is a bucket-list staple and it is just as fun as it sounds. Even if you don’t get to spot one of the big five, the whole thing is a great laugh. From rumbling around in a jeep, to sharing the roads with zebra and antelope, safari is so much fun. No South Africa trip would be complete without it. Don’t be surprised if the power goes off Load shedding is a common practice across many areas of South Africa. What this essentially means is that the power goes off at set times of day across whole areas at a time. Not very convenient, but at least now you know. There are heaps of different languages.
Afrikaans and English are spoken widely across the country, but a multitude of local languages abound across South Africa. Swazi, Zulu and Xhosa are just three examples – and the language people speak largely depends on from which area of the country they originated. If you want a challenge, try pronouncing ‘Xhosa’ – it starts with a click. It surrounds another country.
If just the one country isn’t enough for your trip, you could always pay a visit to Lesotho too. It’s entirely encircled by South Africa, but this high-altitude country has some great attractions on offer in its own right: hiking and waterfalls and mountains. You can ski there too.