At the Southernmost tip of Africa lies one of the most well known and storied countries on the continent. Even those without much interest in politics or sports have undoubtedly heard about Nelson Mandela and Springbok rugby. South Africa’s rich history, diverse population and uniquely beautiful landscape make it an ideal vacation stop for many people. However, there are a few myths that scare people away from experiencing this gorgeous country.
Here are the top five myths we think travelers should be aware of:
1: Nothing to do but Safaris
Many people thinking of traveling to South Africa mention that they don’t want to spend their entire vacation doing safaris. Although South Africa’s safaris are amazing, and we totally recommend you do one while you’re there, they’re far from the only thing to do.
South Africa is a modern country, and big cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg have all the amenities of a city like New York or London. Whether you want to check out museums, see a great concert or partake in world-class shopping, South Africa has something for the whole family.
2: It’s too expensive to visit South Africa
If you’re planning a vacation for you or your family, of course you want to make sure you’re spending money wisely, and staying within budget. Going to a different continent will always be more expensive than visiting the next town over, but with proper planning and budgeting, a trip to South Africa doesn’t have to break the bank.
Airline tickets are the most expensive, but if you buy them well ahead of time, the rest falls into place. Lodging and food is similar to most other metro areas in most South African cities, and many activities such as safaris include food, transportation and travel in the cost. Your trip can be budgeted for with proper planning.
3: It’s dangerous
Big cities like Durban and Johannesburg have gotten some bad press, and a bit of a violent reputation. While it’s certainly true that there are crimes in those cities, like most large cities in the world, it’s important to know where those crimes are occurring.
Areas you’re likely to frequent as a tourist are not likely to be the areas where the crime is happening. Most crimes happen in the poverty stricken areas of the cities, and the tourism industry works hard to maintain safe locations for visitors.
Stick to populated areas in the city centers, and you’ll have a great, and safe time.
4: No one to talk to
A lot of people are afraid when taking a vacation to a non-English speaking country that they won’t be able to communicate. Although this is a reasonable fear, it’s unlikely to cause any problems in South Africa. There are 11 official languages in South Africa, and English is one of them. The vast majority of the population speaks English, and much of the country’s official communication is done in English.
You’ll have no problem finding lots of friendly locals to chat up, ask for directions, share stories and make friends with. All in English!
5: There’s lots of disease
Unfortunately, many foreigners have the perception of South Africa as being disease ridden. Much of this comes from media portrayals of the African continent’s problems with poverty and HIV/AIDS.
Because some areas of Africa are impoverished, there are problems with disease control. However, developed countries like South Africa have far less of a problem with this, and tourists who have had their vaccinations and take common sense precautions won’t have any problems.
Now that we’ve dispelled those myths, here are some awesome South African facts that all visitors should know:
1: Having one capital city is lame
South Africa has three capital cities! Pretoria houses the Executive branch, Bloemfontein is home to the Judicial and the Legislative branch resides in Cape Town. The cities are roughly evenly distributed throughout the country, so most citizens live close to some form of government.
2: Sports lovers love South Africa
South Africa is the only country in the world to have hosted the World Cup for soccer, rugby and cricket. If you’re a sports enthusiast, you’ll fit in great with South Africans. Make sure to catch a Springbok game while you’re there, and cheer with thee rugby loving locals.
South Africa is an amazing country, with something for the whole family. When you’re ready to make the trip of a lifetime, this African country won’t let you down.