Local culture

Read our quick guide to South Africa's local culture.

Local Culture


Nelson Mandela’s most iconic book, Long Walk to Freedom. Conversations with myself is also well worth a read; a collection of essays, speeches and conversations, it gives you a fascinating insight into the man himself.

JM Coetzee is South Africa’s best known author, having won two Booker prizes and one Nobel Prize. His books deal with issues of race and love, and particularly touching is Age of Iron.


Cry the beloved country. A moving adaptation of the 1945 novel, about a black, country parish priest is summoned to Johannesburg where he learns his son is in jail for the murder of young white man. Starring James Earl Jones and Richard Harris.

Invictus. Tells the story of South Africa winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995, starring Matt Damon as a South African rugby hero and Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela.


There’s far more to South African music today than Ladysmith Black Mombazo. The country boasts a huge array of musicians, spanning several different genres sung in English, Afrikaans and other traditional African languages.


South Africans are also very serious about their barbecue which they call “braai”, the Afrikaans word for roasted meat, and if you’re invited to someone’s home for lunch then expect to sample some tender barbecued beef and pap (corn mash) or spicy boerwors (local sausage).


Spend a few nights in picturesque Franschhoek with its stunning scenery and incredible array of world-class restaurants, and visit the local vineyards and those in Stellenbosch and Paarl. In fact, the wine lands actually begin just the other side of Table Mountain, in Constantia, and this makes a great base from which to access both the wineries and Cape Town.


August: Stellenbosh wine festival. Has over 400 wines from some 90 of South Africa's foremost wine cellars available for tasting.

September: National Gold Panning Championships. Anyone can take part in this gold panning challenge, which is a really fun way to learn more about the country’s gold rush heritage.


South Africa is an adventure paradise, offering world-class climbing, surfing, diving, hiking, horseback safaris, mountain biking, river rafting and just about any other extreme activity you can name, all supported by dedicated operators. Just tell our travel experts what you’d like to try and they can arrange it for you.

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