5 things you didn't know about South Africa
1. Its wines are among the finest in the world
Have you ever wondered why so much wine is produced in South Africa? The answer is that the wine-growing techniques were introduced here by the French and were never abandoned. If during your trip to South Africa you happen to taste some South African wine in the Winelands area, we are certain that you will be grateful to them.
South African wines are excellent and the vines almost exclusively grow French grapes, apart from the local Pinotage. The wine region extends around Cape Town: Stellenbosch is the center of the winelands, but other important areas include Constantia, Franschoek, Paarl and Hermanus. South Africa is the seventh producer of wines in the world and the only noteworthy in Africa.
2. It's called the "rainbow nation"
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called it the "rainbow nation" because of the mixing of different cultures and ethnicities, as well as different languages. English is in fact the official and administrative language understood by all, but other 10 languages are officially recognized, including Afrikaans, a Germanic language spoken also in Namibia.
Very similar to the Dutch dialects of the seventeenth century, it was imported from the Boer settlers and over time has undergone influence from Malaysian, French, Xhosa, Portuguese and several other languages. Another feature reflecting the diversity of the country is also the variety of landscapes, from the Kalahari Desert to the impressive peaks (including the famous Table Mountain, see image below), from major cities to unspoiled national parks.
3. It will amaze you with colorful Bo Kaap
The city of Cape Town is home to the Muslim district of Bo Kaap, also called Cape Malay. It is a must-see attraction of the Mother City: all the houses are painted in bright colors, each different from the other. Walking through its streets, you'll soon realize you are in a totally different environment from the rest of the city, with the air full of the scent of spices, among veiled women and men with Muslim hats.
Because of its colors and atmosphere, this quaint district was often used as a location for many films and TV commercials.
4. The most extreme sports are practised
South Africa is a paradise for lovers of extreme sports and adventure. Near Tsitsikamma National Park is the Bloukrans Bridge (see image below), the highest bungee jumping spot in the world (216 m). In the same area you can try the canopy tour, hanging in the air along a path that allows you to go from tree to tree, gliding along steel cables with a harness.
Other activities that can be done are climbing and paragliding on the Table Mountain, kloofing (canyoning) along the most impetuous watercourses and surfing in Jeffreys Bays area (and sighting white sharks by descending into the water in a protective cage). Or else, you can try the more relaxed mountain bike trails and golf courses.
5. It will charm you with its cuisine
South African cuisine, like its population, is a mixture of flavors and different influences and offers a rich and diverse gastronomic scene from region to region. Overlooking two oceans, it offers fresh and delicious seafood, as well as lobsters, oysters and shrimp. During your trip to South Africa you will be probably served krummelpap, corn polenta that accompanies chicken, lamb, pork, often grilled and enriched with dried apricots.
Not to miss is also the bobotie (see image below), a spicy dish made of fruit, meat and Malaysian curry, or the billtong, cooked with ostrich, buffalo, impala or antelope meat. Dishes are often accompanied by bread or pumpkin pancakes and South African wines, while very popular is also the braai, a barbecue of beef, lamb and mutton which is consumed in company and is an excellent opportunity for socializing with the locals.