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South Africa guide
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Last updated : Nov 2009
South Africa Social Profile
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Food & Drink

A thriving agricultural sector yields brilliant fresh produce, fruit, meat and wines and the long coastline produces very fresh and cheap goods. Bars and cocktail lounges have bartender service.

Liquor stores are open weekdays from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm and Saturdays from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm, although alcohol is now available in supermarkets outside these hours and under certain circumstances on a Sunday.

National specialties include Sosaties (which is a type of kebab), Bobotie (a curried mince dish, of which waterbolmmetjiebredie, made with a local water plant, is predominantly good). Potjiekos is a casserole cooked for hours in an iron pot, generally outside, and is a popular South African dish. Other specialties are Bredies (meat, tomato and vegetable casseroles), Biltong (seasoned dried meat) and Poetoepap (a sort of polenta made with white maize, is largely eaten with meat).

Popular seafood includes oysters, crayfish (or rock lobster) and linefish (examples of which are Kabbeljou, Kingklip, Cob and Red Roman).

South Africa's national drinks include Umqombothi, a home-brewed sorghum beer and brilliant local red and white wines (including chardonnay), sherries, brandies and some unusual liqueurs.


The cinemas in South Africa show a variety of international films. In the large cities, there are regular plays, symphony concerts and operas. The local music scene is thriving, there is a unique South African ‘township’ jazz style, examples of which can be seen in all large cities. There are several nightclubs and discos open until late and the large hotels often have live music or cabaret.


Upmarket boutiques and supermarkets usually coexist with a mass of street traders selling arts, crafts and anything else beneficial. The stores in South Africa are modern.

Special purchases include Swakara hand crafted gold, gold, diamond and semi-precious stone jewellery, coats, leather, suede and fur goods, ceramics and crafts, of which there are now a mystifying variety including several from the rest of the continent. Local wine, liqueur and brandy are cheap and usually brilliant.

General shopping hours are Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Saturdays 9.00 am to 2.00 pm, although there is an increasing trend to open later and all weekend in major tourist spots.


Normally 10 to 15 % of the bill is given if the service is not included.

It is customary to tip waiters, porters, taxi drivers, caddies and room service. By law, hotel prices do not include a service charge.