About South Africa

Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site

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The Lost City:

In April 1933, a remarkable archaeological find was made in the Transvaal: a grave of unknown origin containing a considerable amount of gold was discovered on the farm ‘Greefswald’, where the international borders between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana meet.   This discovery, along with the later excavation of the famous Golden Rhino and other significant artefacts, tells the story of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe, a flourishing Iron Age metropolis ruled by an African king almost a thousand years ago.

This sophisticated, ancient society prospered between 1200 and 1270 AD. Although the area was already inhabited by a growing Iron Age community from 900 AD, Mapungubwe became wealthy through gold and ivory trade with faraway places like Egypt, India and China.

 

Biltong, boerewors and vetkoek – the tastes of South Africa!

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South African cuisine is as diverse as its people. Before settlers arrived on the shores of the southernmost part of ‘the dark continent’ in the 17th century, indigenous African people had traditional meals unique to each tribe – and the arrival of colonists from Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, the French Huguenots and of course, the British, added a spectacular array of flavours to the melting pot.

 

Sweet and spicy, the Cape Malay style of cooking

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Cape Malay cooking is known for its rich and intense spices and flavours. It has its origins in Malaysia, Java and Bengal, whose people were brought to the Cape of Good Hope as slaves in the late 1600s by the Dutch East India Company. They brought with them many spices that were not common in the newly settled South Africa at the time – many hot peppers and chillies, as well the liberal use of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and all-spice in their cooking.

Today the Cape Malay style of cuisine is still best described as regional, and very prevalent in the Western Cape. However, and South African mother-in-law will tell you that a cook who doesn’t know how to make a decent bobotie, is not worth their salt in the kitchen!

 

Augrabies Falls National Park – Place of Great Noise and Spectacular Scenery

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The Khoi people call it ‘Aukoerebis’ which means Place of Great Noise, and in fact few sounds are as deafening, or sights as breath-taking to behold as that of the Augrabies Waterfall when the Orange River is in full flood. Unleashed from its rocky surroundings to thunder 56m into the abyss of the Orange River Gorge, the Augrabies Waterfall is not easily forgotten.

The 55 383 hectares on both the northern and southern sides of the Orange River make up the Augrabies Falls National Park and provide sanctuary to a diversity of species, from the very smallest succulents, birds and reptiles, to springbok, gemsbok, giraffe and the endangered Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra.

 

Haunted: South Africa’s most notorious ghosts

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Without a doubt, South Africa’s most well-told ghost tale is that of the Flying Dutchmen, or better known as Der Fliegende Hollander. It’s a story as old as the seas: in 1641 a Dutch trade ship is said to have sank just off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope after sailing into a fierce storm, it’s cargo-hold packed full of treasures from the Far East. Legend has it that whoever spots the phantom Flying Dutchman at sea will die a horrible death quite soon. And there have been sightings throughout history: by the crew of the Royal Navy in the late 1880s, by a German submarine during WWII and many holidaymakers claim to have spotted her tattered sails (or is it just an optical illusion?).

 
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Last week was my birthday and I didn't feel very well waking up that morning. I went downstairs for breakfast hoping my wife would be pleasant and say "Happy Birthday", and possibly have a present for me.

As it turned out, she barely said good morning, let alone, "Happy Birthday". I thought....well, that's marriage for you, but maybe the kids will remember. My kids came down for breakfast and didn't say a word.
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