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Facts You Probably Didn't Know About South Africa

Facts You Probably Didn't Know About South Africa

20 Oct 2022 Travel Tips
The southernmost tip of Africa boasts a bit of, well, everything. The country is filled to the brim with amazing sights. They come in the form of massive nature reserves, gorgeous beaches with epic marine life and not one, not two, but three capital cities each with their own flare. With so much going for it, we figured we’d best give you the lowdown. So get ready to be dazzled, here are some facts about South Africa that you may not know!

South Africa Is Often Referred to as the ‘Rainbow Nation’

It was Archbishop Desmond Tutu who coined the term 'Rainbow Nation' in a post-apartheid South Africa that yearned for prosperity and peace. The importance of this ideology is to denounce discrimination and embrace the multitude of thriving cultures and over 11 official languages!

South Africa Is the World’s Second Largest Fruit Producer

The huge range of fruit produced in South Africa speaks for the variety of foods you’ll find throughout the country. The selection available depends on seasonality, but with such a wide variety, chances are you won’t be disappointed by your options. Smother some cheese in Apricot Blatjang (chutney) during the months of December, January and February, or eat the monthly rotation of vegetables in a bunny chow - curry that’s served in a hollowed-out loaf of bread.

Almost 100 Different Estates in the Winelands Region

Vinos rejoice! The wine options in the Cape Winelands (a short ride from Cape Town) are overwhelming in the best possible way. As a matter of fact, the wine industry in South Africa is the oldest outside Europe. The Cape boasts an ideal climate for vineyards filled with rows and rows of grapes waiting to be turned into delicious Chenin Blancs or fantastic Pinot Noirs. And if this isn’t enough, Route 62 which stretches from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth is the considered one of the world’s longest wine routes - 528 miles of utter bliss.

Kruger National Park is One of the Largest Game Reserves in Africa

The park covers a vast 19,485 square kilometres of wilderness but the real draw is the quintessential safari. Cruising along the well-maintained roads, there are endless opportunities to spot wildlife while respecting the natural environment. There are over 500 bird species, 100 reptile species and 150 species of mammals! This includes the notorious big five (lion, leopard, elephant, black rhinoceros and African buffalo).

South Africa Has Abundant and Record-breaking Animals

Naturally the wildlife in store is pretty spectacular. Just how spectacular? Well, the country has the world’s largest land mammal (the elephant), the largest bird (the ostrich), the largest fish (whale shark), the tallest animal (the giraffe) and the fastest land mammal (the cheetah). 

South Africa Was the First African Country to Recognize Same-sex Marriage

In 2006, South Africa became the first African country to recognize same-sex marriage, also making it the fifth country in the world. The prohibiting of discrimination based on sexual orientation is even written into the country's constitution. Cape Town, most notably, is one of the top travel destinations for LGBTQI+ people. It’s even referred to by some as ‘the gay capital of Africa’.

South Africa Hosts the World’s Largest Bicycle Race

You’re probably more familiar with the famed Tour de France, but the Cape Town Cycle Tour is actually the largest cycle race in the world! The 35,000 riders set out across 109 kilometres of Cape Town’s South Peninsula. The race is equal parts exhilarating and scenic. It’s easy to get distracted along the way by the beautiful mountain views along the coastal road of Chapman’s Peak Drive.

Fried Mopane Worm Is an Indigenous Delicacy in Some Regions

Contrary to the name, the mopane worm is actually a large caterpillar that feeds on mopane tree leaves. It’s a staple protein-source for some indigenous groups in South Africa. Before you judge, try it for yourself. If it’s not your thing, you can always wash it down with a cup of rooibos tea.

Table Mountain Is Over 260 Million Years Old

Trace that number along a timeline and there’s no arguing, Table Mountain is old. How old? Well, older than the Andes and the Alps. The iconic landmark’s layers of sandstone were flattened by ice sheets, hence the ‘table’ reference. Travellers can hike to the flat-topped summit for spectacular views overlooking Cape Town. With around 900 different routes to climb or hike up the mountain, it truly is a playground!

One Street Has Produced Two Nobel Prize Winners

What are the chances… former President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both lived on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, Johannesburg. They were both awarded with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and 1984 respectively and their efforts in ending the apartheid are historic, not only in South Africa, but all around the world.

Inspired to book your next holiday in South Africa? Get in touch with your local Travellers Choice agent for expert booking assistance.

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