Located at the southernmost tip of the continent, South Africa boasts a multitude of ecosystems, offering a wide range of unique experiences to travellers: driving through Kruger National Park in search of the Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, water buffalo and leopard), wine tasting in the world’s longest wine route, hiking to the famous Table Mountain or the Blyde River Canyon, whale-watching up the cliffs of Hermanus, admiring the sunset in the Kalahari Desert… the possibilities are endless. It’s no surprise that each year around 10 millions tourists make their way down to beautiful South Africa.
A unique aspect of the country is that its biodiversity is as rich as its ethnic diversity. The population of South Africa is one of the most complex and diverse in the world. Through the years, SA has become a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities: 80% are Black Africans (divided in numerous ethnic groups), 9% are Coloured (cross racial liaisons), 9% are white (Afrikaans, British or European descent) and a little more than 2% are Indian or Asian (fun fact: Durban is the largest ‘Indian’ city outside India!). The Rainbow Nation is how Desmond Tutu named post-apartheid South Africa. The rainbow was chosen describe the unity of the different ethnicities living in a country that used to be divided by the color on the skin.
While the country’s social and economical situation did improved since Mandela ended the apartheid in 1994, poverty and inequality is still present in South Africa, and any townships across the country will be a reflection of this misfortune. Everyday in Soweto I see luxurious mansions across roads of tin shanties or BMWs driving alongside minibuses jam-packed with passengers. Behind the picture-perfect Cape Town or the pristine beaches of the Wild Coast, millions of South Africans are living below the poverty line or are confronted to the HIV/AIDS pandemic…
In South African indigenous cultures, the rainbow is also a symbol of hope and bright future. This is where my role in this country comes in: by volunteering at the Othandweni orphanage, trying to give to those little angels as much love and hope for a better future.
Population: 55 millions (more than 5% of the total population of Africa!)
Capitals: Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), Bloemfontein (judicial)
Official languages: South Africa has 11 eleven official languages (!) including English, Afrikaans and Zulu.
-Biltong (dried cured meat, ranging from beef to ostrich to wildebeest)
-Boerewors (very fatty sausage typically made of beef and pork seasoned with spices)
-Pap Mealie (maize porridge, the country’s most consumed staple food)
-Kingklip (eel-like fish generally fried)
-South Africa is the continent’s most developed country.
-It’s the only national anthem in the world to contain lyrics in five different languages.
-Nobel Peace Prize winners, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, both lived on the Vilakazi Street in Soweto.
-It is the first nation in the world to voluntarily dismantles all its nuclear weapons.
-Unfortunately, South Africa is believed to have more people with HIV/AIDS than any other country in the world…
-There are more than 13 000 elephants in the Kruger National Park.
-The Bloukrans Bridge Bungy is the highest commercial bungee jump in the world (216m!). It is found in the Tsitsikamma National Park, in the southern part of the country.
-There are more than 2000 shipwrecks in Cape Point region, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean…
-South Africa is currently the only country to have hosted the Soccer, Rugby and Cricket World Cup!
Highlight moment: I was lucky enough to have my parents and big sister Renée come to visit. After six months of traveling solo, being reunited with my family felt very special. We spent two weeks traveling around the country and had the chance to make a pit stop in Botswana and Zimbabwe to cruise on the Chobe River and see the Victoria Falls in full action! Our journey ended in Soweto, where I showed my family around my adopted township and orphanage. After saying goodbye to my loved ones, it wasn’t long before I was back in the arms of my little ones!