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Cape Town is a must-visit, but there’s more to South Africa than the Mother City | © Joshua Earle/Unsplash
Cape Town is a must-visit, but there’s more to South Africa than the Mother City | © Joshua Earle/Unsplash

12 Stereotypes Every South African Hates

Picture of Carina Claassens
Updated: 30 November 2017

Do you have any strange misconceptions about South Africans and the country they call home? Here’s our list of 12 stereotypes all South Africans hate, just to clear things up.

Wild animals roam freely throughout the country

The first thing many foreigners ask when stepping foot on African soil is: “Where are the wild animals?” South Africa is known for its abundance of wild life and there are definitely some spots where humans have learnt to live with monkeys, penguins and even leopards in close quarters, but you won’t find a lion roaming the city streets, or see a local riding an elephant to work. There are many nature and game reserves scattered throughout the country, so if you want to see wild animals, your best bet is to visit one.

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An elephant in the African bush | © Will Shirley/Unsplash

The locals speak African

For those who didn’t know, African is not a language, so don’t ask a local whether they’re fluent in it. South Africa does, however, boast 11 official languages, and most locals speak at least two of these. You’ll be happy to know that English is a dominant language in the country (although only the fourth most spoken) so getting lost in translation is unlikely.

Afrikaners all live on farms and wear khaki clothes

A common misconception is that Afrikaans-speaking people are all khaki-wearing ‘boers’ who live on farms and never venture into the big cities. The truth is that the Afrikaner culture is as diverse as any other found in the country and they absolutely hate being placed in a small box.

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South Africa is a melting pot of unique cultures | © Koushik C/Unsplash

‘You don’t sound South African’

One thing that makes South Africa such an interesting country is all the different cultures that occupy it. It’s only acceptable then that English accents come in countless varieties, mainly due to the above mentioned plethora of official languages. When speaking English as a second language, a local’s first language more often than not comes to the foreground. However, English-speaking South Africans sound Australian to the untrained ear.

Going on safari is the be-all and end-all when visiting

A safari is a must-do when in South Africa, but try to do more than spending your time on the back of a game-viewing vehicle. Plan enough time to visit the bushveld as well as larger cities and off the beaten track towns.

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Definitely don’t skip the safari | © Sergey Pesterev/Unsplash

South Africa is small

Africa is a huge continent; in fact, it’s the second largest on the planet, and South Africa is one of the largest countries on the continent – about five times the size of the UK. Needless to say, when you visit, make sure to plan accordingly, because it’s impossible to see all South Africa has to offer in a week. Know where you want to go, what you want to see and how long it’ll take you to get there. Think about it this way: a road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town – with no stops – takes approximately 14 hours.

Most South Africans are trigger-happy hunters

Hunting is a popular hobby (and career) for many South African men and women. Whether you condone it or not, you might find solace in knowing that the hunting industry benefits wildlife conservation in South Africa and injects huge sums of money into rural areas. Whichever way you look at it, hunters aren’t into it simply for the sake of killing a wild animal. In most cases, each part of the animal is used, from the skin and meat to skulls and horns.

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Whether you agree with it or not, hunting aids nature conservancy | © Rhett Noonan/Unsplash

It’s not safe to travel there

Just as when visiting any foreign country, it’s important to keep your head about you when travelling. Don’t flash expensive jewellery or electronics and keep your belongings close by or in a safe. Sure, in big cities the walls surrounding houses are high and you’ll see a lot of electrical fencing, but not visiting out of fear of crime is simply inexcusable.

All South African men play rugby

Rugby is a popular sport, but all men definitely don’t partake in it. Watching a big match on TV or even in the stadium? Sure. Getting tackled so hard it’s difficult removing the blades of grass from your bruises? Not so much.

Different races don’t mix

South Africa has a turbulent past but locals of all races are seeing beyond skin colour. The misconception that different races don’t mix is quickly trumped when foreigners visit South Africa for the first time.

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Just visit any market, mall, sporting event, bar or restaurant to see that South Africans get along, regardless of race | © Tanja Heffner/Unsplash

South Africa only consists of Cape Town, Johannesburg and The Kruger National Park

There’s much more to the country than what is seen in travel brochures and adverts for tour companies. Cape Town, Johannesburg and The Kruger National Park are all must-visit destinations, but don’t skip out on the smaller towns. From unspoilt stretches of beach to charming small towns with loads to see and do, there’s much to explore in this vast country.

It never gets cold in South Africa

When imagining a holiday in South Africa, chances are you’re thinking of balmy days spent on white beaches. Sure, the country boasts some of the best beaches and climate in the world, but each year winter creeps in. Always pack something warm and check weather reports for your destinations. Cape Town is notorious for its wet winters, Johannesburg boasts amazing lightning storms during the summer and the Karoo can drop to temperatures below zero. It’s not always sunny in South Africa.

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In a country as big as South Africa, different weather conditions are a given | © Inge Maria/Unsplash