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Everything you know about South Africa is probably wrong. Travel Column by Isabella Bouwer A few days ago, I was browsing through the news when I came across an article titled “Do you know where South Africa is?” Surely I wasn’t reading this correctly, most people should know where South Africa is, right? After reading the article, Google then suggested a few more frequently searched questions to me, such as “Is Africa and South Africa the same country?” and “Is Africa part of America”. I’ve never been fantastic at geography, but it is pretty amazing to hear some of the myths and misconceptions that people have about South Africa and its whereabouts.
Many people are extremely ill-informed about South Africa, and have ridiculous misconceptions of the nation. As a South African, I am here to debunk some of these common misconceptions and tell you why you should travel there despite your doubts. As an immigrant to New Zealand from South Africa I can tell you I have come across my fair share of weird misconceptions and myths about South Africa. Usually, the first question people ask is “If you’re South African, why aren’t you black?”. I can tell you’re probably thinking, nobody would ask that question.. But I promise you it’s quite common. To let you in on a little secret, there aren’t only black people in South Africa! Another common question is “Do you speak African?”. Unfortunately, I don’t, but many people in South Africa will speak one of the eleven official languages. While you may think these those question seem dumb, there are so many misconceptions about South Africa that are so utterly different from the reality of living and traveling there. To start clearing up these misconceptions, let’s tackle the one that reaches almost everyone’s mind when thinking about South Africa. Crime. Many people believe that every where you go there is significant crime.
Countless people have asked me “Did you get robbed when you lived in South Africa?” or “Did you ever get carjacked” and the answer to both those questions is no. Just like all other countries in the world, there are good areas and bad areas. Knowing where you are travelling is essential and there are things you can do to avoid and prevent crime. Yes, crime is apparent, and it does happen in South Africa, but unlike what many people think, most people enjoy wonderful trips to South Africa without any issues with crime. Another misconception I often see people are concerned about when travelling to South Africa is the ‘wildness’ of the country. Many believe that everyone is poor, people live in shacks, there are wild animals roaming the streets and it is all economically undeveloped. I promise you, as dangerous and exciting it would be to see a giraffe on the way to work in the morning, there are no wild animals roaming the streets. Thankfully, there are extremely large nature reserves such as the Kruger National Park which is home to over 800 species of animals.
This is probably better for us, and for them. I can also assure you that many people do not live in mud shacks. There is actually a huge amount of wealth and luxury in South Africa, with some of the most opulent hotels and lodges in the world. There is also great deal of poverty, which is definitely a severe problem that the nation faces and is not to be taken lightly of, but is also something that many people do not face in the country. Just like every other country in the world, South Africa has it’s issues, but it also has some of the most incredible experiences you won’t be able to get anywhere else in the world. For example, thrill seekers can jump of the Bloukrans Bridge (the highest bungy jump in the world), cage dive with great white sharks or even ride an ostrich. For those looking for a relaxing holiday, there are beautiful white sand beaches and some of the best wine tasting in the world. These amazing and memorable experiences won’t leave you broke in the bank either, as the South African Rand is a relatively weak currency. I believe that South Africa has something to offer for everyone, from safaris to surfing. It really is an incredible place to visit, despite its problems. I think that South Africa is truly one of the most misunderstood countries in the world. I’m not saying this because I’m biased or because I love the country, but because I believe it has so much to offer that people aren’t aware of. It truly is time to clear up these misconceptions about this incredible nation and the opportunities it has to offer. So the next time you think about South Africa, think about