Why in the world would you pick South Africa of all places? There are so many other holiday destinations, so much safer and prettier.
If I had a penny for every time someone asked me of my impending vacation to South Africa, I would have collected enough money to stay there longer!
Not going to lie; while I researched about South Africa and planned my itinerary, I was pretty apprehensive myself. When you meet individuals who have never been to South Africa, many tend to have perceptions about the country and its people that are either false or misleading. The reality, however, is quite different.
This 2-week-long (short!) getaway to South Africa became one of the most thought-provoking and memorable experiences of my life. This diverse country demands your alertness at all times. Not for the crimes everyone thinks are synonymous with South Africa, but for the beautiful graffiti in the alleys, soulful music playing in street corners, and the comforting aroma of their iconic Braai—a South African barbeque delicacy. When you see the country and its people from your own eyes, you couldn’t help but remember Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate who described South Africans as “Rainbow People of God”—and silently wonder how right he was.
South Africa is a paradise, which, unfortunately, is surrounded by illogical stereotypes and cruel generalisation. Anyone who hasn’t been to the Rainbow Nation can fall into the trap of these misconceptions. I, too, fell for some. But you can learn from my experience and embrace the forthcoming inflow of warmth and beauty without paying any heed to the years of fear-mongering and pigeon-holing.
The language barrier
One of the first things I Googled while contemplating travelling to South Africa was about the “African language”. Do not embarrass yourself by questioning a local’s fluency in “African”. It is not even a language. This culturally rich country boasts of 11 official languages, but English remains dominant. So, getting lost in translation is highly unlikely. I had a free-flowing and fun conversation with a petrol pump employee about his love for Bollywood music!
There are animals everywhere
I’ve been asked several times if I witnessed elephants or lions roaming the streets in South African cities. I couldn’t help but shudder at the thought of it but also laugh at the naivety of someone still falling for this stereotype.
In one word, No! If you are travelling to South Africa, do not expect to find a leopard in the mall parking or a local riding an elephant to work. The county is abundant in wildlife and there are many nature and game reserves scattered throughout. So, to spot a herd of zebras crossing the road, an actual “zebra-crossing”, your best bet is to go on a “game safari” at a national park like Kruger National Park, as I did.
Sights like these were common on the game safari at Kruger National Park.