South Africa is a land of contrasts, with first world city areas contrasted by wild wilderness areas, and suburbia contrasted by huge tracts of land where only wild animals live.
The Drakensberg Mountains are a range of mountains formed by the bottom end of the African rift valley, with peaks rising to 3600 metres. There are many hiking trails which go up these mountains, with overnight huts and caves at intervals along the trails. The weather up there can change in a matter of minutes, with heavy snow, and many hikers have had to be airlifted out by air force choppers, so one needs to choose one's season carefully. The scenery, however, is stunning.
Down on the East coast of South Africa is the Storms river bridge, one of the highest concrete arch bridges in Africa, and there is a permanent bungee jumping installation there. You fall a long way before the rope starts slowing you down!
There are quite a number of old steam locomotives that are still pulling trains around scenic parts of the coast and midlands. They are run for tourists, and booking is essential. The steam trains are run by clubs of enthusiasts, and are kept in shiny condition. If you like the smell of coal smoke and grit in your eyes, this is for you!
The Kruger National Park is a very large game park at the North Eastern corner of South Africa, bordering on Mozambique. It will take you more than a day to drive through this park from South to North, but it is better to spend at least 4 to 5 days there in order to see all the game. The big 5 are all there - Lion, Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo and Leopard, as well as crocodiles, Hippo, Cheetah and a huge collection of different antelope. Accommodation is in bush camps, and you can choose your level of luxury, from 5 star to tented bush camps. (Bring your anti-lion spray.)
The coast of South Africa is full of really good beaches. The water on the East coast is warm and surfing and body surfing, as well as kite surfing, snorkeling, fishing and kayaking are all popular in the area. There are also resorts with water slides, with some of the scariest being at Ushaka Marine world in Durban - one of them almost vertical!
In the cold waters of the South and West coasts, whale watching and shark contacts are the rage, with people being lowered into the ocean in shark cages to experience the perfect predator of the sea really close up! Also in the area is the cable car up Table Mountain, offering spectacular views of Cape Town and Table bay.
In the Central and Northern areas of South Africa are large tracts of almost uninhabited desert areas, where there is no cellphone coverage, no TV and usually no telephones of any kind. The roads up there are fairly good, but take lots of water - it goes up to 53 degrees centrigrade in the summer.
This is just a small sample of the adventures one can have in South Africa. There's also white water rafting, cycling and long distance races, rallying, quad biking, 4X4 trails, skydiving, chopper rides, and so on and on.
South Africa is definitely not a boring country!
HOW TO SPEAK IN SOUTH AFRICAN SLANG
I was chatting to an Australian on a internet forum site today, and I realised that we almost speak a different language. I know some of the Aussie slang, but not enough to impress the guy.
So OK, I lost out, but you don't have to! Let me give you a bunch of phrases so that you can understand a South African when you chat to him. Here goes:
Howzit. This is a greeting, short for How is it? It's used like the greeting Hi.
Braai. A Barbecue. Virtually anything edible goes on a braai, including beef, chicken, fish, potatoes, sandwiches, mushrooms, shark (really), crocodiles (not whole, and not often, but it happens!) and of course Boerewors.
Boerewors. A very long beef sausage that you cook on the braai. Often refered to as just wors. Usually rolled into a spiral shape so it can fit.
Biltong. Dried (raw) salted and spiced meat, like beef jerky. Made from various meats including beef, game, ostridge and even fish. Extremely tasty and popular
Isit. The 2 words 'is it' said as one, and meaning the same as 'really' or 'is that so.'
Kief. Really nice. Like 'That's a kief shirt dude.'
Eish. Exclaimation of surprise or dismay, or even sympathy.
Bro or Bru. As in 'Howzit Bru' a greeting to a friend, short for brother in a loose sense.
Check. Look at. 'Check that Keif chick' = Look at that lovely woman.
Scaly. Not nice at all 'Check that scaly ouk' = look at that disreputable guy.
ouk or ou. A guy or man. Normally youngish. An old man is called 'an ou ballie.'
ekse. As in "Cool ekse" = Nice hey? Pronounced 'ek sair'
Gif and Durban Gif. Marijuana or dagga as it's known here. Literally 'Poison.' Can also mean Nice or potent, as in 'I had a gif date my Bru!' and 'what a gif car you've got!' Gif is pronounced ghif, with a slightly gutteral "G"
Bliksem. Exclaimation of surprise or pain. Lit. 'Lightning.' Some Afrikaans speaking people take offence at this word, for reasons unknown.
Jislaaik. An expression of amazement, like Gosh or Wow.
My China. My friend.
My stukkie. My girlfriend. A term not particularly liked by the ladies. Means literally 'My piece.'
Brak. Scruffy stray dog of indeterminate parentage.
Flatdog. Crocodile. Sometimes also referred to as speedbumps, from their habit of crossing national roads. However, these speedbumps tend to dislodge and remove both axles of your vehicle.
Vrot. Rotten. Of bad quality. Pronounced half way between Frot and fraught.
Tune. Say. As in "Don't tune me grief" = don't say irritating things to me.
chuck. Go. 'I'm chucking to town my china.'
Pozzie. House or home. "Meet you at my possie" Pronounced "Poor zee"
Lekker. Nice or very nice.
Jawl. Party or night out. "We had a lekker jawl last night!"
So there you have a brief list to get you going. String a couple of those together and you should get by! If you say it wrong the locals will let you off because of your strange accent and funny clothes!