It’s time for a South African brag story. The biggest, the deepest, the best.

South Africa. – South African bragging rights, I know we all have them.

As I travel and explore, ever feeding my desire to learn and experience as much as I can of this world, there is nothing like coming home and seeing that first glimpse of Table Mountain from the plane on approach. It never ceases to thrill me and fill me with pride.

Here is a list of twenty things that give South Africans serious bragging right.

1. The Big Hole in Kimberley is an open-pit and underground diamond mine said to be the largest hole in the world excavated by hand. It has a surface of 17 hectares and is 463 meters wide, with a depth of 240 meters. Over the years it has accumulated about 40 meters of water. It is very impressive and a tour of the historic town teaches much about our rich diamond mining history.

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2. Talking diamonds, the world’s largest was the Cullinan Diamond, found in South Africa in 1905 and weighing 3,106.75 carats uncut. Yes, imagine! It was cut into the Great Star of Africa, weighing 530.2 carats, the Lesser Star of Africa, which weighs 317.40 carats, and 104 other diamonds of nearly flawless color and clarity, which now form part of the British crown jewels.

3. The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site about 50km northwest of Johannesburg, covering an area of 47,000 hectares and home to a collection of complex limestone caves. Including the Sterkfontein Cave where the 2.3-million year-old fossil nicknamed Mrs Ples was found. It is here that some of the oldest hominin fossils were excavated.

4. The Sunland Baobab in Modjadjiskloof in Limpopo Province is famous for being the widest of its species in the world and is carbon dated to be around 6000 years old. Over 1000 years baobabs hollow out in the middle, and this one now has a bar on the inside. Only in South Africa! That said, we are also home to some of the world’s smallest succulent plants, which we value just as highly.

5. Fun things are the very large pineapple in Bathurst that stand 16,7 meters tall and has three floors, as well as the giant postbox in Calvinia at a height of 16,7 meters and with a circumference of 9,43 meters. Also the Loeriesfontein Windmill Museum which has the second largest collection of wind pumps in the world.

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6. For the adventurous, we boast the highest bungee jump in the world at Bloukrans on the Garden Route. I’ve done this, and you actually free-fall for 4 seconds. It’s an incredible sensation.

7. The Southern African Large Telescope aka SALT in Sutherland is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere and amongst the largest in the world. Sutherland is a tiny village in the middle of the Karoo with no streetlights and fresh crisp air, which makes it an idyllic location. Stargazing here opens one up to new worlds.

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8. Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world and is one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

9. Rich in fauna and flora, Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent. We proudly boast the Big Five – Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo and the Little Five – the elephant shrew, ant lion, rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver and leopard tortoise. We truly are spoilt for choice with creatures worthy of our appreciation and protection. South Africa also has a floral kingdom entirely contained within our country, with the Cape Floral Kingdom consisting of 9,600 plant species, 70% of which are not found anywhere else in the world.

10. On the agricultural front, South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world and has the longest wine route in the world. We are also the world’s largest producer of macadamia nuts.

11. The Tugela Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world, where the water tumbles down 2,789 feet. With the Byde River Canyon in Mpumalanga being the third largest in the world.

12. We claim the only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace prizewinners, namely Vilakazi Street in Soweto, where both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have lived.

13. There are more than 2000 shipwrecks, dating back at least 500 years, off the South African coast. More than one that simply vanished without a trace, which is a challenge for any adventurous diver.

14. South Africa has the most luxurious train in the world, The Rovos Rail. A journey I’ve been lucky enough to experience.

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15. TauTona Mine or Western Deep No.3 Shaft is the deepest gold mine in the world. At 3.9 kilometers, it is still producing.

16. Vredefort crater near Johannesburg, South Africa is the oldest meteor scar in the world, with an estimated diameter of around 300km (186 miles). This huge, eroded structure was formed around two billion years ago, when an asteroid or comet collided with the Earth.

17. The Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (CHBAH) is the third largest hospital in the world, with 3 200 beds and 6 760 staff members. The hospital is one of 40 provincial hospitals in Gauteng and is based on Soweto.

18. Love this one. The earliest use of fire by humans has been traced back approximately 1.5 million years to locations in East Africa and to Swartkrans in Free State.

19. We have the most official languages in the world with these 11 – English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Sesotho, Setswana, Sepedi, Xitsonga, siSwati, isiNdebele and Tshivenda. Afrikaans is also the youngest language in the world and the only language monument in the world is the Taal Monument in Paarl.

20. Some of our best inventions are the CAT Scan, the Kreepy Krauly which we love to hate. Pratley’s Putty, which had a part in the success of the Moon Landing. The Dolosse, unusually shaped concrete blocks weighing up to 20 tons that break up wave action and protect harbour walls.

I could go on, but those set the scene for much satisfaction, even before we take to heart the beauty of our landscapes, coastline, white beaches and food.

Yep, South African bragging rights for sure, with the biggest and deepest of all, South African pride.

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Dawn JorgensenDawn Jorgensen
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The Incidental Tourist

The Incidental Tourist is a Personal Travel Blog of a conscious traveller with a deep love for Africa, its people and the environment.

Here I bring you narratives, stories, video and photographs from my travels around the globe, including accounts of gorilla trekking in Uganda, tree planting in Zambia and turtle rescue in Kenya, accommodation and restaurant reviews, as well as details of the conservation efforts that I support.

A self proclaimed earth advocate and beauty seeker, I invite you to join me and share in my love of sustainable travel – and the rich offerings of our beautiful world.

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