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Busting Myths: Debunking Common Misconceptions About South Africa

When it comes to first impressions, South Africa doesn’t really fare well. Perceived to be an expansive desert surrounded by wilderness, South Africa, much to the surprise of first timers makes for a breathtaking scenery. With a rich history and diverse culture, South Africa is as glorious as it gets. From its dramatic landscapes to exotic wildlife, its wonders draw throngs of tourists every year. Be it Durban, Cape Town or Johannesburg, the country is nothing but a paradise. An increasingly popular holiday destination, it’s quite ironic that South Africa is shrouded in a dozen of misconceptions. From silly rumours about crime rate in South Africa to the popular belief that wild animals roam the streets, you’ll actually be surprised by the absurd nature of some of these stereotypes. Well, don’t let these myths get to you. Here are five misconceptions about South Africa that are completely false.

There’s nothing to do but Safari

Well, we agree South Africa is one of the best destinations to enjoy a Safari trip. But emerging as the adventure capital of the world, South Africa has a lot more to offer. While the adrenaline junkies are spoilt for choice with options like shark-diving, white water rafting and world’s highest bridge bungy, for the cultural travellers, cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town have an abundance of museums and historical sites. And if you’re a foodie, the wineries and restaurants here are an absolute delight. While South Africa might be the place to realize all your Safari fantasies, there’s no dearth of unusual things to do in this land of endless opportunities. 

The language barrier

Many tourists think of South Africa as a non English speaking country. Putting this incorrect notion to rest for one and for all, English is in fact one of the 11 official languages of South Africa. And for those who believe that their inability to speak ‘African’ is a major hindrance in their African holiday, well, we’ sorry but even a language instructor can’t help you here, because it isn’t a legit language! English is not only used for business communication but even a majority of the local population communicate in English. Other widely spoken languages here include Zulu, Xhosa Africaans and others.

Safety Issues

A bit of a violent reputation and a perception of being disease ridden, South African cities have often been under the limelight for all the wrong reasons. While the bigger cities like Johannesburg and CapeTown have been under the scrutiny of government and tourism industry to ensure the safety and security of visitors, reports suggest that most crimes take place in poverty stricken areas. Well, the areas frequented by tourists are mostly safe and being a little alert and vigilant doesn’t really anyone. If you’re visiting South Africa for the first time, we’d suggest that you take your vaccinations and precautions before flying in. 

Wild animals roam the streets

Bit of an exaggeration though, but not quite far from the truth. To be honest, there’s no experience that can beat the adventure of an African safari. Probably one of the few places where one can witness lions in their natural glory, South Africa is home to a wide array of flora and fauna but they definitely do not roam the streets. Security measures ensure that wild animals are limited to their reserved areas and zoos. While safaris give you the opportunity to see these beasts in their natural beauty, the wildlife doesn’t encroach upon human settlements. So tourists need not worry about any animal encounters while exploring the by lanes here. 

The climate is hot and dry throughout the year

 Isn’t it high time we moved beyond the stereotype of South Africa being a vast stretch of desert? A subtropical region surrounded by oceans on two sides, while some areas of the country experience a hot and dry weather, majority of the country enjoys a moderate climate. Though the pristine white beaches here provide a much needed break from the scorching heat, the biting winters are usually wet. Cities like Cape Town even witness heavy showers and thunderstorms during winters. And in Karoo the temperature can even drop below zero. Since ‘it’s not always sunny’ in South Africa, we’d suggest that you pack something warm and don’t forget to keep a tab on the weather before hitting ground.